FIRST Adds Java Technology to the First Robotics Competition Tool Kit

MANCHESTER, N.H. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — April 20, 2009 FIRSTTM (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, today announced that a new Java™ Technology port will be a part of the robotics platform for the 2010 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) season. The addition of Java to LabViewTM and C++ as programming language options in the FRC tool kit, also known as the Kit of Parts, was announced during the 2009 FIRST Championship at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome this past weekend.

In the 2010 FIRST Robotics Competition, contestants will be able to use Java Technology to program the CompactRIO™ controller manufactured by National Instruments. The port of Java to the CompactRIO controller is the culmination of several years of work by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and researchers from the Sun SPOT project at Sun Microsystems Laboratories.

“For future competitions, FIRST has added Java programming language to our standard FRC tool kit,” said Bill Miller, senior director, FIRST Robotics Competition, “By working with two of our partners, WPI and Sun, FIRST is now able to provide FRC students with an additional high-level programming language, adding to the options for students and delivering a robotics experience that uses a widely accepted industry-standard language.”

FIRST Championship attendees saw the Java Technology in action in Atlanta with the CompactRIO controller, and teams attended technical presentations for hands-on Java demonstrations.

“Java on embedded devices has been an exciting world for quite a number of years,” said James Gosling, Sun Microsystems fellow and vice president. “It's wonderful to see Java showing up in an educational area as interesting, as challenging, and as fun as the FRC. Sun is very happy to be participating with Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the FIRST mission, and we appreciate the support FIRST has given WPI and Sun to make Java available to FIRST robotics teams.”

The FIRST Robotics Competition is a unique varsity ‘sport for the mind’ designed to help young people discover the interesting and rewarding aspects of engineering and research, while challenging teams and their mentors to solve problems in a six-week timeframe using a standard Kit of Parts and a common set of rules.

“This is an exciting time for FIRST teams,” said Brad Miller, associate director of the WPI Robotics Resource Center. “By capitalizing on the work done by a project team of WPI students with Sun Microsystems engineers in the fall of 2008, and the power of the CompactRIO platform, FIRST is now able to provide another programming language option for teams. With so many students already learning the Java language in high school, I’m sure it will be a popular choice.”

During the 2009 season, 1,680 FRC teams totaling 42,000 students competed at 41 events in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. All participants are eligible to apply for close to $10 million in scholarships at over 130 colleges and universities.

About Sun Labs

Established in 1990 Sun Microsystems Laboratories is the applied research and advanced development arm of Sun Microsystems, Inc., with locations in California and Massachusetts. Sun Labs is one of the way Sun invests in the future, and is responsible for many of the technology advancements that have made Sun a technology powerhouse – asynchronous and high-speed circuits, optical interconnects, sensors, network scaling and Java technologies, including Project Wonderland and Project Darkstar.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Sun Microsystems develops the technologies that power the global marketplace. Guided by a singular vision -- "The Network Is The Computer"(TM) -- Sun drives network participation through shared innovation, community development and open source leadership. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the Web at

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. WPI's 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, information security, materials processing, and nanotechnology. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 20 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe. For more information visit


Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge for high school students, FIRST LEGO League for children 9-14 years old, and Junior FIRST LEGO <

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