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Indiana FIRST

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) founder Dean Kamen wondered whether a celebration of science and technology could rival those of athletes and movie stars. Kamen, an avid inventor who created the Segway and iBOT all-terrain wheel chair, saw a need to encourage young children to find inspiration and excitement in science and technology. When founding the non-profit organization in 1989, Kamen saw a technological landscape growing at a rapid rate but few opportunities for children to understand and interact with it on a fun, inspirational level.

It’s the same problem SEP President and CEO Jeff Gilbert noticed before he discovered FIRST. After his daughter became involved with the program, he began working with Indiana FIRST “I was really struck by the number of underserved students participating in these programs. Indiana FIRST encourages them to pursue academic excellence even as their schools are struggling. FIRST shows students a potential future they might not otherwise have considered.”

Indiana FIRST motivates children from kindergarten through high school to get excited about technology and engineering through a variety of competitions held across the state. The opportunity allows students hands-on experiences in engineering, science, and technology. These skills not only aid class work but introduce students to higher education opportunities. As Gilbert puts it, “FIRST helps colleges and universities find good students and provides Indiana companies with emerging skill sets.”

SEP has been a participant with area FIRST programs as employees have been helping teams across the state with mentorship and technical advice. But Gilbert wanted to go further, explaining, “SEP's expertise in hardware, software, and engineering could be very helpful to teams. We can provide help, not just as individual mentors but also in workshops.” It’s this excitement for Indiana FIRST that has led Gilbert to work with Indiana’s FIRST chapter to promote the advancement of FIRST Robotics and Dean Kamen’s mission to inspire young people to be the future leaders of science and technology.

Indiana FIRST
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