Posted: December 14, 2009

FIRST and MIT announce strategic alliance to inspire K-12 students about science and technology education and careers

(Nanowerk News) FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) today announced a global strategic alliance and a U.S. pilot program to promote the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in K-12 education. Specifically, FIRST and the MIT Alumni Association will marshal resources to collaborate and promote K-12 STEM education through after-school FIRST robotics programs.
Many education experts say the next generation of youth in the United States is not prepared to take on the challenges of the 21st century since as many as 80 percent of jobs created in the next decade are expected to require math and science skills. A National Science Foundation study found that many students say that they would rather clean their room, eat their vegetables, go to the dentist, or take out the garbage rather than learn math or science.* FIRST and MIT have consistently demonstrated the power of robotics programs to unleash the creative spirit in our young people.
The Alumni Association will leverage MIT alumni and their broader communities around the world beginning in the pilot year with those in Eastern Massachusetts.; New York City, Northern California, Central Ohio and North Georgia who are committed to act as FIRST coaches, mentors, volunteers and sponsors. The pilot will also serve as a model for future MIT/FIRST programs in the U.S. and abroad that aim to expand the size and effectiveness their volunteer initiatives across other regions and organizations.
"This is a classical win-win!” said Dr. Woodie Flowers, alumnus and faculty emeritus of MIT and FIRST Executive National Advisory Board Chairman. “It simply makes sense that we would have an alliance between the world's most famous science and technology university and the world's most effective and fastest growing organization devoted to inspiring young people to seek the knowledge and professional attitudes they need to solve the world's problems.”
“The MIT Alumni Association is in a unique position to further the shared mission, vision and values of FIRST,” said Judith M. Cole, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the MIT Alumni Association. “This synergistic relationship with FIRST and its dedication to attracting and inspiring students with an interest in science and technology clearly puts the intellectual energy of the MIT community to work where it is needed the most — igniting the minds of young people.”
FIRST will assist the MIT Clubs and the MIT Enterprise Forum chapters across the country with resources such as instructional materials, guidelines for starting robotics teams, and marketing support. MIT staff and volunteers across the nation will be matched to FIRST partners and will support events in their geographic areas to begin local collaborations.
“Having a strategic channel that allows MIT graduates across the country to act as coaches and mentors for our students gives FIRST tremendous volunteer resources,” said Paul R. Gudonis, president of FIRST. “As a leader in science and technology, MIT and its graduates are in an enviable position to give FIRST students the kind of expert guidance and instruction that can ultimately solve many of society’s major challenges.”
About FIRST®
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) for children 9-14 years old, and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL) for 6 to 9 year-olds.
Source: MIT