I recently participated in the FIRST robotics championships, in St. Louis -- but the sheer energy of it still has a hold on me.
FIRST is an acronym that spells "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology," an organization created in 1989 by Dean Kamen, to get young people interested in science and technology. He’s the guy who invented Segways, insulin pumps, and tons of other big and small things. His passion for the cultural changes needed to strengthen our nation’s intellectual resources is infectious – so much so that I’m on a mission to get our industry even more involved.
I am really lucky to work for a company like Comcast that places such an emphasis on technology and education. In partnership with The Comcast Foundation, our National Engineering and Technical Operations team has worked with FIRST for several years, and this year, we quadrupled our commitment sponsoring a total of 50 teams around the country. The support we provide is both financial and human, meaning that we place our own Comcast tech people as mentors for the high school teams.
On top of that, working closely with FIRST, we created an award this year, The Comcast Media & Technology Award, and presented it to a team that excels in communicating and marketing the FIRST mission using online and social media. Of the more than 130 entries, we narrowed the field down to six and then assembled a panel of Comcast and NBCUniversal judges to make the final selection.
The winner: Team Panteras, who built an app that translates all FIRST documentation into Spanish -- which our judges viewed as an extraordinary showing of technical, professional and cooperative outreach, and just a brilliant move to expand the FIRST mission.
Throughout the weekend, while wandering amid the roar of 25,000 very loud, very excited kids, parents, and robots in the Edward Jones Dome, I got to visit with all eight of the teams Comcast sponsored that made it to the championships. I was both floored and inspired by them.
These kids are inventing and creating and bringing products to market -- insulated lunch boxes and 3D printers, as two of many for-real examples. There’s a huge amount of goodness coming our way in this generation of kids. They want to contribute to a better life, a better experience, and to be better people. I think FIRST dovetails perfectly with technology and entertainment. What do we need? Good technical people. What do we have to offer? Good technical jobs in some of the most dynamic, fun industries in the world. This is a call to action, folks – if you’re not involved with FIRST, I’d highly suggest you consider getting involved. It’s a natural win-win.
Watch video from the competition here.