The Federal agency with perhaps the best known robots has just announced that it is going to encourage student tinkering here on Earth. On Monday NASA unveiled a plan that will provide up to $20 million over the next five years to support a national program to inspire student interest in science, engineering, and mathematics with a focus on robotic technology.
Having overseen the creation of such famous robotic adventurers as Spirit, Opportunity, and Robonaut, it seemed only natural for NASA to boost up a program to enhance automaton activities in academics. "This is the largest NASA-funded student program geared toward robotics activities," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "For the next five years, approximately 25,000 students across the country will not only learn from our nation's best and brightest, but also compete and have fun at the same time."
President Obama knows the coolness factor of robots firsthand, as he welcomed FIRST Robotics to the first-ever White House Science Fair last month and to the launch of Educate to Innovate, the President’s science and math education improvement initiative.
Aptly, the centerpiece of NASA’s program is the annual FIRST Robotics Competition, in which teams of high school students are given identical batches of parts and have six weeks to build a robot. There are 45 regional competitions which culminate in an international championship in April.