Posted by Courtney E. Howard
My hat is off to Dean Kamen, famous inventor of such innovations as the Segway PT, and mil-aero industry players, such as Rockwell Collins
and General Dynamics
. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a Manchester, N.H.-based organization founded by Kamen to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology, has launched various technology challenges, designed to foster imagination, innovation, and collaboration among children and adults, community and industry, government and academia, and more.
FIRST has announced the 2009 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Challenge: Smart Move. Smart Move challenges 146,000 children, ages 9 to 14, in more than 50 countries to explore robotics
solutions to issues in modern transportation through hands-on, minds-on teamwork.
A long-standing sponsor of FIRST, Rockwell Collins has provided more than $1 million in support of FIRST programs, sponsoring hundreds of teams and events at the elementary, middle, and high-school levels in the U.S. FIRST executives have named Rockwell Collins the Official Program Sponsor for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC).
"The announcement recognizes the distinct role Rockwell Collins will play as the primary official sponsor of FTC, the newest and fastest-growing FIRST program available to students in grades nine through 12," says a company representative.
As a FIRST Strategic Partner, Rockwell Collins employees serve as volunteers, leading teams and providing technical mentorship, coordinating regional events, and judging robotics competitions.
"When you excite students with hands-on experiences and reinforce classroom learning with creative applications of content from textbooks, kids get motivated and want to learn," says Clay Jones, chairman, president, and CEO of Rockwell Collins.
An estimated 1,300 FTC teams are expected to compete in 60 official FTC tournaments across North America for the upcoming season. More than 10,000 participants will be involved in FTC events, which culminates in the FTC World Championship, April in Atlanta, Ga. Participants will be joined by teachers, parents, and university and corporate mentors as well as prominent regional and national leaders in business, government, education, and the media.
Other FIRST Tech Challenge sponsors include FTC CAD and Collaboration Sponsor, PTC, and FTC Program Sponsor, General Dynamics.
Smart Move comprises two phases. In the project phase, teams identify a problem with the way people, animals, information, or things travel in their community, create an innovative solution, and share it outside the team. In the robot phase, teams apply robotics, sensor technology, and fresh thinking to solve the problems.
Personally, I have spoken with several children between the ages of six and 14 who have not yet given any thought as to what they would like to do after high school, for a vocation, for the community or world at large, and so on. I appreciate that industry innovators are investing in the future, and getting today's youth to start thinking about technology, invention, and ingenuity, and how to apply them to solve current and future challenges.
If you know of other industry firms or individuals who are making a difference in the mil-aero community or world at large, please post the info here or in the Command Post community, or e-mail me at Courtney@pennwell.com. They deserve recognition and kudos.