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Central Texas Students Explore Ocean Depths for FIRST LEGO League Tournament

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National Instruments Corp.
11500-T North Mopac Expwy.
Austin, TX, 78759-3504

Press release date: December 12, 2005

NEWS RELEASE - Dec. 12, 2005 - Nearly 30 student teams created robots to explore the ocean depths for the second annual Central Texas FIRST LEGO League Tournament on Dec. 10. National Instruments, the NI Foundation, Kealing Middle School and AISD teamed up to bring this competition to Austin, where students, ages 9 to 14, were asked to create robots using LEGO Mindstorms and RoboLab programming software based on NI LabVIEW.

FIRST LEGO League, created through the partnership of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) and The LEGO Company in 1998, is a program that helps more than 60,000 young people worldwide discover the fun of science and technology by encouraging participants to construct fully autonomous robots. This year's challenge, "Ocean Odyssey," featured a series of missions geared toward completing marine-related tasks, such as releasing a dolphin or deploying a submarine. Teams competed in the tournament by designing, building and programming robots with LEGO Mindstorms technology.

"FIRST LEGO League translates science and engineering into something exciting and hands-on that young people enjoy," said Ray Almgren, NI vice president of product marketing and academic relations. "Through FIRST LEGO League, these young innovators see how they can make an impact in their communities by using creative thinking, teamwork and problem solving to explore tangible, important problems. We're excited to help bring this competition to Central Texas and give students the opportunity to experience the reward of engineering and innovation."

In addition to the robot game portion of the competition, teams also researched and presented information concerning a particular sea activity or resource and traced its impact on ocean health, biodiversity and productivity. Students interviewed local experts to create solutions to improve the use of this resource while minimizing the negative impact that use has on the oceans for present and future generations. Then, each team presented its conclusions and suggestions to a panel of judges during the competition.

Undersea United, a group of San Antonio home school students, received the prestigious Director's Award for the second year in a row. The team not only presented the best technical robot design, but it researched innovative approaches to solving water resource issues in its local community and best represented FIRST LEGO League values in its work. National Instruments will sponsor the team to compete nationally at the FLL World Festival in Atlanta this April.

NI continues its commitment to academia globally as an official international sponsor. In addition, NI branches around the world, including Germany and Scandinavia, sponsor tournaments.

About FIRST LEGO League FIRST LEGO League (FLL) inspires future scientists and engineers. Guided by imagination and adult mentors, FLL students worldwide ages 9 to 14 face real-world engineering challenges and discover career possibilities by learning to make positive contributions to society. FLL is a result of a partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Company and offers the opportunity to design, build and program robots; use LEGO Mindstorms technology; learn teamwork and research challenges today's scientists face. For more information, visit

About National Instruments National Instruments ( is a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation - a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists in industry, government and academia approach measurement and automation. Leveraging PCs and commercial technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs for test, control and design applications through easy-to-integrate software, such as NI LabVIEW, and modular measurement and control hardware for PXI, PCI, USB and Ethernet. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 3,700 employees and direct operations in nearly 40 countries. In 2004, the company sold products to more than 25,000 companies in 90 countries. For the past six years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

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