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FIRST and FIRST ROBOTICS
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FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." Its goal is "To create a world where science and technology are celebrated, and where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes."A Maverick Founder
FIRST was founded by inventor Dean Kamen (Segway) in 1989.
Having dropped out of Worcester Polytechnic Institute before graduating, Mr. Kamen is a self-made man. He is well known for inventing a number of important medical devices, including the AutoSyringe, a mobile dialysis system for medical applications, the first insulin pump, and the Segway Personal Transporter.
Here are some significant excerpts from an article on Mr. Kamen in Wired magazine (Issue 8.09, Sept 2000):
As a teen, Kamen read Newton, heckled his science teacher, and built high-profile projects in New York. By graduation, he was earning $60,000 a year.What drives Kamen's imagination? Things he decided ought to exist, like a water purifier/power generator that zaps tainted H2O with a laser.The Ibot chair has a balance mode that raises up the front wheels, like a dog begging for a treat. "Technically," says Kamen, "it's magic."The "NCAA of smarts" (FIRST Robotics) is just as Kamen would have it: High school kids treat engineers like celebrities. And build robots that make the crowd roar.
FIRST supports three programs for students in elementary school to high school: FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition.The most famous program supported by FIRST is the FIRST Robotics Competition. The participation in FIRST Robotics in 2009 competition is impressive:
1,680 robotics teams
42,000 high-school students
Teams from 48 states in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Turkey, and the U.K.
40 Regional events in the U.S., Canada, and Israel; seven District competitions and one State Championship in Michigan
FIRST Robotics Competition Championship at the FIRST Championship in Atlanta, GA, April 16-18, 2009
Robots are built in 6 weeks from a common kit of parts provided by FIRST, and weigh up to 120 lbs. (excluding battery and bumpers)
Those Who Participate in FIRST Robotics Are More Successful and More Involved
Recently, Brandeis University's Center for Youth and Communities conducted an independent, retrospective survey of past FIRST Robotics Competition participants and compared the results to a group of non-FIRST students with similar backgrounds and academic experiences, including in math and science. Highlights of the study's findings include, when compared with the comparison group, FIRST students are:
More than 3 times as likely to major specifically in engineering.
Roughly 10 times as likely to have had an apprenticeship, internship, or co-op job in their freshman year of college.
Significantly more likely to expect to achieve a post graduate degree.
More than twice as likely to expect to pursue a career in science and technology.
Nearly 4 times as likely to expect to pursue a career specifically in engineering.
More than twice as likely to volunteer in their communities.