The Boeing Co. recently announced a four-year national partnership with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), valued at $4 million, to encourage students to explore careers in math and science.
FIRST is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, to inspire young people to participate in science and technology. Beginning in January, teams of high school students collaborate with adult mentors during an annual six-week period to design, build and program robots from a common kit of parts for competition.
"We view the excitement created by FIRST as an opportunity to positively influence the perception of math and science by young people," said Rick Stephens, Boeing senior vice president of Human Resources and Administration. "For more than 10 years, our employees have inspired participants through their experience applying teamwork and technical skills to creatively solving complex problems. Expanding our involvement with FIRST will help us encourage more students to experiment with technology and make new discoveries as the future workforce of our industry."
LUNACY, the 2009 competition challenge, commemorates the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission by staging all events on a low-friction floor to simulate gravity on the moon. During the match, teams recall the discoveries from the first manned mission to land on the moon as they maneuver robots to toss nine-inch "moon rocks" into trailers. FIRST attaches these moving targets to robots designed by the opposing teams as part of the challenge.