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NI, FIRST programme foster future engineers

Posted: 03 May 2013     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded robotics  embedded control  LabVIEW  robotics controller 

National Instruments Corp. and For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) have announced the extension of their partnership in nurturing more scientists and engineers.

The partnership that will continue on until 2019 will enable FIRST to engage young people in exciting mentor-based robotics programs ('programmes' for plans) that celebrate science and technology, inspire innovation, and foster self-confidence and communication skills while utilising NI's real-world engineering tools.

This phase of the technology partnership centres around the creation of a next-generation embedded robotics control platform code-named "Athena." Athena is a super-rugged, reconfigurable controller that, when paired with NI LabVIEW system design software, makes it possible for FIRST teams to design real systems faster than ever. Students will use Athena starting in the 2015 season of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC).

Starting with Junior FIRSTLEGO League (Jr.FLL), which is the entry-level programme in a Progression of Programmes at FIRST for youths ages 6 to 18, students use tools powered by LabVIEW to intuitively learn embedded control and robotics programming concepts. As students advance through these four robotics programmes, access to tools that scale with each skill level is essential to their success. Athena, which is programmable with LabVIEW, gives high school students experience with the same tools they will use throughout college and in their science and engineering careers.

"We're excited to extend our technology partnership with FIRST to continue pursuing the shared goal of creating more scientists and engineers," said Ray Almgren, vice president of corporate marketing at National Instruments. "We believe the combination of LabVIEW and this next-generation controller will continue making programming more accessible to all students."

Through a donation from NI, FIRST will provide next-generation robotics systems to participating teams starting 2015. This donation provides hardware for all existing and "rookie" FRC teams over a five-year period. NI also currently provides LabVIEW software to all FRC teams. Students in FIRST will use the same hardware and software platform professional engineers currently use to create applications in virtually every industry, from testing smartphones to launching spaceships.

"Support from partners like National Instruments is helping FIRST provide hands-on learning experiences that mirror what students will do in their future careers," said Steve Chism, vice president of programmes at FIRST. "We're creating a generation of scientists and engineers ready to confidently take on the challenges facing our world."





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