2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 258-9
Presentation Time: 3:10 PM


BRINZA, David E.1, STEELE, Robert D.1, LEON, Mark J.2 and LAVERY, David B.3, (1)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, MS122-107, 4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena, CA 91109, (2)Robotics Alliance Program, NASA - Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035, (3)Science Mission Directorate, NASA - Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546, david.e.brinza@jpl.nasa.gov

The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover has special connections with programs engaging pre-college students with the field of robotics. For example, “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” (FIRST) offers a series of progressive challenges, beginning with elementary school students and extending through high school. Their keystone program, FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) connects high school students with engineering, science and business mentors to design and build robots which play a new and different game every year. FRC exposes students to a full product development cycle, in which technical, teamwork, management, and marketing skills are fostered.

NASA recognizes the importance of developing a motivated, skilled technical workforce from the ground up. The Agency has provided significant support to FRC since 1995, in both funding and volunteers. Current support from NASA for FRC was competitively awarded via a cooperative agreement notice. The NASA HQ Program Executive responsible for Curiosity supports FIRST at the Executive Advisory Board level. The NASA Robotics Alliance Program, based at NASA Ames Research Center, administers grants to hundreds of FRC teams in the USA. Across NASA, hundreds of staff members volunteer their time and expertise to inspire students to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and explore career options in technical fields.

The Curiosity mission has deep connections with the FRC program, as thousands of students were captivated by the “Seven Minutes of Terror” landing and subsequent surface operations. This connection is especially close because mentors involved with development and operations work directly with FRC students. More significantly, the benefits of NASA’s investment in FRC alumni are being realized, as early career staff and college interns are currently working with the Curiosity team. FRC and Curiosity is truly inspiring the next generation of Mars explorers.

  • GSA2014_Curiosity_Robotics_Release.pptx (12.6 MB)