Vought Employees Lend Expertise to Robotics Team

DALLAS, FEB. 22, 2006 – Engineers and technicians from Vought Aircraft Industries in Dallas are assisting South Grand Prairie High School in a robotics competition that takes ingenuity, real-world teamwork and dedicated mentoring to win.

US FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international organization that seeks to inspire young people, their schools and communities with an appreciation for science and technology. Its annual robotics competition challenges students, with the help of industry, to solve a common engineering design problem through teamwork. Each team builds a custom robot in six weeks from a box of assorted parts provided by US FIRST and additional items from an approved parts list.

In 2006, the competition will reach nearly 27,000 high-school-aged students comprising 1,100 teams in 33 competitions. Teams come from Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Israel, Mexico, the U.K., and almost every U.S. state.

This is Vought’s fifth time to participate with a local high school and the third year with South Grand Prairie High School. This year Vought’s team included Brian Courtney, mechanical engineer (M.E.); Patrick Porowski, M.E.; Eric Bush in tool design; and a former M.E. who is now working for a Vought supplier.

“The US FIRST competition holds value for Vought as a skills-building exercise in rapid prototyping, short duration integrated product team exercise, developing low-cost solutions to a requirements statement, refreshing design skills and coordinating project tasks,” said Courtney. “Answering the challenge to conceive, design and build a functioning machine for competition in six weeks is never easy, the US FIRST organizers make sure of that,” said Courtney.

The design requirements for this year’s robot include autonomous positioning on the playing field and unloading its store of 7-inch diameter balls in 10 seconds. It must also respond to wireless modem control from a remote student-controlled operator station to out maneuver competing robots and climb a 25-percent grade obstacle. The completed robot integrates material selection, weight optimization, design for reliability, safety, computer programming, manufacturing capabilities and assembly science.

Vought first joined the South Grand Prairie High School’s robotics team in 2003, providing funding and three engineers as mentors, problem solvers and fabricators. The team finished one point away from first place in the regional competition. In 2004 Vought again participated in South Grand Prairie’s US FIRST robotics competition with funding, technical support and assistance in fabrication. The team’s effort won the bronze medal at the regional competition in Houston as well as the prestigious “Chairman’s Award” for its exceptional proposal section.

Last year Vought engineers participated in a high school physics class competition to build scaled balsawood bridges. Engineers built a sample bridge and various column-buckling samples to demonstrate the material use and strength concepts. Basic tools of analysis were applied to the sample assemblies and presented to train the students how to perceive and how to solve design problems.

About Vought

Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc. (www.voughtaircraft.com) is one of the world’s largest independent suppliers of aerostructures. Headquartered in Dallas, the company designs and manufactures major airframe structures such as wings, fuselage subassemblies, empennages, nacelles and other components for prime manufacturers of aircraft. Vought has annual sales of approximately $1.2 billion and more than 6,000 employees in seven U.S. locations.

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Lynne M. Warne
(615) 974-6003