U.S. First Competition

The purpose of U.S. FIRST is to get High School students involved in technology and science by exposing them to the real world environment of industry. This is accomplished by an annual, national, event where a variety of industry sponsors join with high school students to build remotely controlled robots. The competition changes each year and all the teams are kept in the dark as to what the event will be so no team can get a head start.

The National Competition for 1995 was held at the Disney World Epcot Park in Orlando, FL. Forty-eight teams competed. Some teams did better than others, but all had a great time. In January each team was given the same kit of parts to work from and had about six weeks from the time the contest was announced until the machines had to be completed and shipped to the competition. Yes, it was a lot of work!

For information about next year's competition, or U.S. FIRST in general, contact:
340 Commercial Street
Manchester, N.H. 03101

A note about me:
My name is Tom Hoose. I work for Lockheed Sanders in Nashua, NH. My company was teamed with Nashua High School, and our machine was called the "Purple Twister" [Nashua High's colors are purple and white, and our machine scores by twisting at the top]. I took all the photos included here.

A note about the photos:
These photos are all copyright to Tom Hoose (1995) but may be freely distributed for any non-commercial purposes. I hope that these will get some of you to be interested in the competition. If you have questions, you may send email to THNH@aol.com. I do not work for U.S. FIRST, so questions about joining etc. should be directed to them at the address above.

This is a small sampling of all the action from the event. Not all machines are featured, but I tried to show some of the variety of machines that showed up. It is important to remember that ALL the machines were built from identical sets of parts. The variety of the results is pretty impressive. These are pretty powerful machines. Each machine can weigh up to 70 pounds and can travel pretty fast. Even though the playing field is constructed out of 4x4 wood, the machines were able to knock the field joints apart. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I did taking them. I tried my best to correctly identify the teams, I apologize if there are any errors.

Photo 1 - View of EPCOT from the stage where the competition was held. It was a bit cloudy but that didn't slow down the events.

Photo 2 - The E-Systems/Greenville HS (Greenville,TX) ["Lion Claw"] team launches a ball through the goal post. Often their shots bounced off the backboard and went through the goal the other way, doubling their points.

Photo 3 - The Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH)/West HS (Manchester, NH) ["Blue Lightning"] scores points by moving their ball back and forth through the goal. Note the small 'foot' they drop down to stabilize their machine on the ramp.

Photo 4 - Florida Atlantic University/Dillard HS (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) ["Mixed Nuts"] has the blue ball. I'm not sure which machine is jammed in the back with the red ball. Notice the 'platform' that Dillard HS uses to stabilize and level their machine on the ramp.

Photo 5 - The yellow ball is held by Procter & Gamble/Walnut Hills HS (Cincinnati, OH) ["Pulp Friction"]. The blue ball is wielded by Lockheed Sanders/Nashua HS (Nashua, NH) ["Purple Twister"]. Pulp Friction has taken the top position and lowered its stabilizer feet. Once they got into this position, all the other teams had a tough time getting Pulp Friction out of there. They were a tough competitor. Purple Twister is a tracked vehicle, and is raising its boom up to lift the red ball into scoring position.

Photo 6 - This is typical of some of the jam ups that occurred as teams competed for space in the goal. The yellow ball, which has scored, is held by E-Systems/Lakewood HS (St. Petersburg, FL) ["ESY-CAT"]. The blue ball is held by Navi Dowty/D.C. Everest HS (Schofield, WI) ["T. Rex"], they are trying to avoid being tipped over. In the back, the red ball is held by NUWC/Rogers HS (Newport, RI) ["ET2"], their machine is not visible.

Photo 7 - This was taken shortly after photo 6. After scoring 12 points, ESY-CAT has fallen down the ramp and lost their ball. They were unable to get their machine up again. T. Rex, blue ball, cannot move without flipping over, so they were stuck. The ET2 team, red ball, was having some difficulty that kept them from extending their boom and scoring, even though they were in position to do so. The winner of this round turned out to be ESY-CAT with 12 points.

Photo 8 - The Procter & Gamble 'TIDE' team watches the events. The large TV screen allowed everyone to have a good view of the action. Dr. Woodie Flowers of M.I.T., who lead the idea of robot competitions, is seen in the gray shirt near the center of the TV screen.

Photo 9 - This shot shows Pulp Friction, scoring with the red ball, and Boeing/Lindbergh HS (Renton, WA) ["The Talon"] coming up the front ramp with the yellow ball. I'm not sure which team has the blue ball, but they are putting it through the goal with enough force to bend the goal posts.

Photo 10 - Teams were allowed to deploy devices to hinder (but not damage) their opponents. The NASA Lewis/East Technical HS team (Cleveland, OH) ["Tech Force"], with the blue ball did this. At the start of the match, the basket on top is loaded with the little pyramid shaped 'robot traps' shown on the front ramp. They pop the pyramids out to keep other machines from using the ramp. They then grab their ball and use the arms to put the ball in their basket. They then launch their ball through the goal. The Worcester Polytechnic Institute/Mass Academy (Worcester, MA) ["Scorpion II"] machine is scoring points with the yellow ball at the top. The WPI machine has a stabilizing foot like other machines, and they score by oscillating the ball back and forth in the goal area.

Return to The Robot Menu