Regional Winners Named In Student-Built Robot Competition

Last weekend, students from Southern California, Central California and Arizona had the opportunity to rub metal, burn rubber and duke it out against the world's finest student- built robots during a regional competition held March 15-17 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

The robots took part in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Southern California Regional Competition, where 47 robots and nearly 2,000 high school students engaged in all the thrills of competition. FIRST is a non-profit organization whose mission is to generate an interest in science and technology.

"This program pulls the blinds up and kids are exposed to other careers they may not have considered before. The students learn a valuable lesson: to work as a team toward a common goal," said Rob Steele, robotics engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and mentor to the student team at Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach, Calif.. "In some respects, it's like working on a mission, where each person works on one part or component toward one common goal: mission success. In this case, the teams formed an alliance and all five robots worked together to get the job done."

The championship team alliance is:

Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose, Calif.

Hamilton High School, Chandler, Ariz.

Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Union High

School, Redondo Beach, Calif.

Newbridge High School, Los Angeles

The regional is one of 13 competitions around the country in which more than 530 teams will compete in a national robotics competition at Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center in Orlando, Fla., April 5-7.

Nationwide, NASA has awarded 100 sponsorships to high schools and locally, JPL has awarded 24 teams with sponsorships to help competitors in the Southern California regional contest. Results are at .

The following 10 JPL-sponsored teams took awards at the regional competition (all are in California unless otherwise noted):

- Team Spirit: Cactus High School, Glendale, Ariz.

- Sportsmanship: South High School, Bakersfield

- Leadership in Control: Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys

- Highest Rookie Seed: Granada Hills High School, Granada Hills

- Rookie All-Star: Hart High School, Newhall

- Rookie All-Star:King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles

- "It Takes Heart" Judge's Award: Dorsey High School, Los Angeles

- Regional Finalists:

South High School, Bakersfield

Taft High School, Woodland Hills

Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach

JPL is sponsoring three teams to go to the nationals: Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach; Archer School for Girls and King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, both in Los Angeles.

More information on FIRST is available at:

Managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, JPL is the lead U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Live satellite interviews are available with Shonte Wright, thermal engineer at JPL and FIRST robotics team mentor on Wed., March 21. To book time for this interview, call Jack Dawson at 818-354-0040 or e-mail Jack at .

A video file with animation and B-roll will accompany this release and is scheduled to air on NASA Television on March 20, 21, 22 at 9 a.m., noon, 3, 6 and 9 p.m. EST. NASA Television is available at GE-2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, with vertical polarization. Frequency is on 3880.0 megahertz with audio on 6.8 megahertz.

News Media Contact

Carolina Martinez (818) 354-9382