National Instruments pwns FIRST Robotics automation systems with CompactRIO donation

In another of our regular features on "doing well out of doing good." National Instruments and FIRST Robotics have done the expected (at least by me, anyway). With National Instruments' flagship, Labview, as the engine for the Lego Mindstorm robots that are the precursor to FIRST Robotics (younger kids do Lego League, older kids graduate to FIRST), it makes sense to use Labview and National Instruments controllers for the upper division of the competition as well. The students already have a feel for Labview programming from Mindstorms, and will have a leg up on programming their FIRST competition robots. And of course, by the time they're 18 and out of high school, they'll have four to six years of detailed exposure to the National Instruments culture.STEM picture Not bad. First we make them Lego robot engineers, then we make them FIRST robot engineers, and all the time we make them Labview junkies... Like I said, "doing well out of doing good." And let there be no mistake: this is "doing good" on an astoundingly large level. National Instruments and its partners, as you will see when I finally get around to posting the release below, will be supplying all the robotic control system kits for all the FIRST teams for the next five years, at NI's expense...a multi-million dollar donation. Thank you, from the entire industry, National Instruments. Even your competitors owe you for this one. Here's the note that Lourdes Salazar from NI sent me:FIRST robotToday, National Instruments and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit organization inspiring young people to be science and technology leaders, has selected the National Instruments CompactRIO embedded control platform as its next-generation FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) robot controller. With this platform, high school students will create advanced robots starting in the 2009 FIRST season. Students can program their robots based on CompactRIO in either NI LabVIEW graphical programming software or the C language. The announcement will impact the entire FIRST Robotics Competition and all of the high schools and teams involved (42,000 total students). NI is granting a multimillion dollar in-kind donation over the next five years to FIRST to provide the CompactRIO system to participating teams. Several key technology suppliers have collaborated with NI to provide in-kind donations of components required to build the CompactRIO control system. These industry-leading technology companies include Analog Devices, Boston Engineering, ChipX, Dove Electronics, Freescale, MSI, Texas Instruments, TTI, Westak, Wind River, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Xilinx. Their support is helping NI to supply a leading-edge, highly sophisticated embedded platform equivalent to the most advanced industrial systems. NI is deeply committed to helping empower engineers at the industry level, but the company also has a strong focus and passion for supporting STEM-related organizations to encourage today's students to become the engineers of tomorrow. FIRST is just one of the many organizations NI works with to make sure  students are excited about science and engineering. I am attaching the news release below, which is also available at and a link to two high-resolution images. Additionally, here are quotes from some of the suppliers who donated as well. Please contact me if you have any questions or need additional materials. “National Instruments and Analog Devices have a history of collaboration, and this sponsorship of the FIRST Robotics Competition is among the most rewarding. We’re proud to provide some of ADI’s core technologies to help encourage today’s youth and develop tomorrow’s engineers.” - Sam Fuller, Vice President of R&D, Analog Devices “Boston Engineering has joined with National Instruments to combine our engineering expertise and their technology to support the FIRST Robotics Competition. We believe in the importance of engineering education, which makes this one of the most rewarding projects we have participated in with NI. Graphical system design matches the robotics space perfectly, providing high school students with a robust and powerful platform.” - Erik Goethert, Account Manager, Boston Engineering “Freescale has worked with National Instruments to provide high-performance MPC5200 microprocessors for use in the new FIRST Robotics Competition controller, based on the NI CompactRIO architecture. We value the vital contributions of science and engineering education and believe organizations such as FIRST are crucial to building a strong engineering community. The combination of our popular MPC5200 processors with FPGA and analog technologies gives high school students a powerful platform that sets the pace for embedded single-board computers used by today’s engineers in industry.” - Mike Bryars, Manager, Infotainment, Multimedia and Telematics Operation, Freescale “When National Instruments asked Texas Instruments to donate semiconductor devices for the FIRST Robotics Competition, it felt like a natural fit with TI’s initiatives to support effective science, technology and math education. Inside the NI CompactRIO controller and modules lie TI high-performance analog and power management technologies that enable monitoring and control.” - Steve Parks, High-Performance Analog Worldwide Marketing Director, Texas Instruments “Because of their flexibility, FPGAs are now widely used in designs across many industries. Xilinx is proud to be able to expose high school students to reconfigurable logic technology through the FIRST Robotics Competition.” - Anna Acevedo, Xilinx University Program, Xilinx “The VxWorks operating system powers the new NI CompactRIO controller designed for the FIRST Robotics Competition. We are pleased to enable the FIRST student participants’ access to industry-leading software and development tools.” - Warren Kurisu, Senior Director of Product Management, VxWorks, Wind River Systems “In support of the engineering community, TTI, Inc., and its wholly owned subsidiary Mouser Electronics, provide comprehensive online, same-day shipment, no-minimum-order capabilities that are key for the FIRST teams’ limited build time while they prepare for competition. TTI and Mouser are excited to partner with National Instruments and are supplying many of the NI CompactRIO controller's component technologies.” - Mike Morton, Senior Vice President, Product and Operations, TTI, Inc.