Skip to content

It’s Not About the Robot

The 19th annual FIRST national robotics championship was held in Atlanta last week, with teams from Redondo Beach, CA; Milford, MI, and South Windsor, CT taking top honors. More than 500 teams from 30 countries competed. FIRST founder, inventor Dean Kamen, presented awards to winning teams, joined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. (Obama, Kamen says, “gets it.”) Bill Gates also sent a video addressed to the competitors.

The competition is widely recognized not only as a powerful tool for motivating kids to pursue studies and careers in technology, but also as a way to inculcate values of self-confidence, respect, and teamwork. For those involved, says Kamen, it’s exciting, it’s fun, and it helps to break down stereotypes about science being something that white guys do. In an interview, Kamen told me, “FIRST is about changing kids’ attitudes about what’s possible. The robot is nothing more than a vehicle to connect kids to the serious community in this country that creates all the wealth and literally keeps the planes in the air and the trains on the tracks. They come away from the experience wanting to figure out how to make the world a better place and how to become successful.”

My friend Rich Press, a photographer, has posted a great set of photos he shot at the New York area regional finals a few years back that really capture the spirit of the event. Here’s one.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *