Brick by Brick, Innovative Partnership Builds Future Engineers

LEGO, National Instruments, and Tufts University Create High-Tech System that Teaches Engineering Concepts in K-12 Classrooms

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 23, 1998--With the shared goal of motivating students to explore career possibilities in engineering and science, National Instruments, LEGO Dacta and Tufts University today announced a partnership to develop an exciting educational program called ROBOLAB(tm) System.

The new system uses a powerful combination of LEGO bricks and industry-standard software to introduce cutting-edge engineering tools to elementary through high school classrooms.

With the ROBOLAB System, students design and build LEGO Robotic inventions. Using the ROBOLAB software, students write programs on a computer and then transfer these programs to a programmable LEGO brick -- the RCX. The system contains motors, gears, and sensors that can make the robots turn, rotate, reverse directions, start and stop, and execute other robotic functions. The combinations of LEGO bricks and programs make potential student creations nearly limitless. The ROBOLAB program incorporates an ongoing K-12 curriculum that introduces new challenges to the students in each year of their educational careers.

National Instruments LabVIEW(tm), the same software used by leading companies such as Lockheed Martin, Pepsi, Boeing and NASA, is the basis for the graphical programming language for the ROBOLAB System. The ROBOLAB software, jointly developed by National Instruments, Tufts University and LEGO Dacta, is engineered for the classroom and teaches basic computer programming, robotics, and automation skills.

"We chose National Instruments LabVIEW for our ROBOLAB system because it is easy to teach students fundamental programming skills with the LabVIEW graphical programming language," said Chris Rogers, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at Tufts. "LabVIEW is a standard tool for scientists and engineers in the work force, yet its simple graphical interface allows kids as young as kindergartners to use it with ease."

"We are proud to partner with LEGO Dacta and Tufts to help develop the engineers and scientists of tomorrow," said James Truchard, president and CEO of National Instruments. "LabVIEW was designed as an easy-to-use, flexible tool to help engineers and scientists be more productive and create innovative solutions. This project gives students a genuine understanding of engineering from hands-on experience."

"This partnership builds on our long-term commitment to create exciting products based upon traditional LEGO values of quality, value, and exuberance," said Jens Maibom, LEGO Dacta Global Marketing manager. "As an educational tool, ROBOLAB introduces modern scientific and engineering concepts to students in a fun and innovative way. Working cooperatively and solving real-life problems in challenging settings will intrigue teachers and thrill students."

About LEGO Dacta

LEGO Dacta, the educational division of the LEGO(tm) Group, was founded in 1980. LEGO Dacta has a long track record in the development of high-quality educational resources within Early Years learning, Science & Technology, and Information Control. The LEGO DACTA System offers a unique range of construction sets, providing students and teachers with superb opportunities for modeling and prototyping ideas. Today, educational materials from LEGO Dacta are marketed and sold to schools in more than 45 countries. In the United States, LEGO Dacta is known as Pitsco LEGO Dacta.

About Tufts Center for Engineering Outreach

The Center for Engineering Educational Outreach at Tufts University is dedicated to bringing engineering into the K-12 classroom. Using the model of an engineering design project, the center coordinates engineering and education experts with teachers to design curricula based on engineering programs. More than 100 teachers in schools across the United States and abroad have worked with the center to generate curricula, test new teaching strategies, and investigate how kids learn. This approach has had great success in integrating math, science and reading and writing skills. Girls and boys, parents and teachers have all been enthusiastic participants.

About National Instruments

National Instruments, a leading supplier of computer-based measurement and automation products, was founded in 1976. The company manufactures hundreds of software and hardware products, which, when combined with industry-standard computers, replace and/or communicate with traditional instrumentation to acquire, analyze, and display data and to monitor and control processes. These computer-based instrumentation systems are used for test, measurement and industrial automation applications.

Availability and For More Information

Please contact LEGO Dacta for ROBOLAB availability. For more information, please see the ROBOLAB web site at or contact:

Tara Mason Michelle Moody Marjorie Howard
National Instruments Pitsco LEGO Dacta Tufts University
512/683-6873 800/362-4308 617/627-3500

Product and company names listed are trademarks or trade names of their respective companies.

CONTACT: National Instruments, Austin

Tara Mason, 512/683-6873


Pitsco LEGO Dacta

Michelle Moody, 800/362-4308


Tufts University

Marjorie Howard, 617/627-3500

COPYRIGHT 1998 Business Wire