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Students come FIRST for NI’s CompactRIO

More than 1,500 teams from eight countries participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition, with National Instruments’ CompactRIO embedded control platform as their robot controller and a NI multimillion dollar in-kind donation over the next five years to provide the CompactRIO system to participating teams.

Three teams from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, Greenville, Texas, and Sterling Heights, Michigan emerged victorious at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta this weekend, as one winning alliance.

It was the climax to months of competition involving more than 1,500 teams from the United States and seven other nations: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

With CompactRIO, high school students created advanced robots, which could be programmed in either NI LabVIEW graphical programming software or the ANSI C language.

The CompactRIO platform gave high school students access to advanced control capabilities and superior performance, including a 400 MHz PowerPC and FPGA-based I/O. The CompactRIO modular I/O system offers connectivity to a wide array of sensor and actuator options and powerful real-time vision processing to build a highly advanced robot. Students were able to create robots that may be driver-controlled or run in fully autonomous mode using the latest technologies including wireless monitoring and simulation for more in-competition control and more accurate designs.

“Our goal is to have a FIRST team in every high school and to change the culture in our communities to celebrate excellence in science and engineering the same way we celebrate sports,” said Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST and president of DEKA Research & Development Corporation. “It’s the support of partners like NI that is helping FIRST make that goal a reality.”

“We’ve chosen to partner with FIRST because we believe the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program will have a substantial impact in creating more scientists and engineers” said Ray Almgren, vice president of Academic Relations at National Instruments.

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