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FIRST Youth robotics teams and global brands celebrate innovation and STEM in Detroit

  Last month, more than 17,000 students (ages 6-18) from around the world traveled to Detroit, putting their innovation skills to the test at the annual FIRST Championship Presented by Qualcomm Incorporated, held at the Cobo Center and Ford Field.  
  The four-day Detroit event, attended by more than 43,000 people, came down to a heart-pounding conclusion in front of thousands of cheering fans at Ford Field when teams competed in match finals for the FIRST® Robotics Competition and FIRST® Tech Challenge world championships. 
  Four teams from Brighton, Mich.; Sterling Heights, Mich.; Eindhoven, Netherlands; and Philadelphia, Pa., were the FIRST Robotics Competition Winning Alliance for this year’s game, DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE Presented by The Boeing Company. Teams from Vincentown, N.J.; Hollis, N.H.; and Mundelein, Ill., were the FIRST Tech Challenge Winning Alliance for ROVER RUCKUS Presented by Qualcomm.
  FIRST Championship, the world’s largest celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for students, kicked off last week in Houston with 33,000 people. Altogether, a record 76,000 people participated in the two-week event.
  Among the participants, many earned honors for design excellence, competitive play, research, business plans, website design, and teamwork. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) inspires innovation and leadership in young people through engaging, team-based robotics challenges.
  “This is the age when a passion for innovation starts with STEM. We are committed to giving today’s students the foundations they need to invent the future and are proud to support FIRST,” said Angela Baker, director of Corporate Responsibility at Qualcomm. 
  In Detroit, more than 700 robotics teams from 37 countries competed and exhibited in the four FIRST programs, including FIRST® LEGO® League (ages 9 to 16, varies by country); FIRST Tech Challenge (ages 12 to 18); and FIRST Robotics Competition (ages 14 to 18). In addition to the high-energy robotics matches, 60 teams participated in the FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. (grades K-4, ages 6 to 9) World Festival Expo.
  FIRST Championship Detroit honored significant supporters of the FIRST mission:
• FedEx was the recipient of the Founder’s Award, presented each year by FIRST Founder Dean Kamen to one organization or individual for exceptional service in advancing the ideals and mission of FIRST. The award was accepted by Rajesh Subramaniam, president and chief operating officer of FedEx.
• The Volunteer of the Year Award was awarded to event volunteers for each of the four FIRST programs: James Lockman from Gorham, Maine (FIRST Robotics Competition); George Marchant from Goffstown, N.H. (FIRST Tech Challenge); Stacey Jones, of Palm City, Fla. (FIRST LEGO League); and Pablo Hernandez of Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico (FIRST LEGO League Jr.)
• The Woodie Flowers Award, founded by Dr. William P. Murphy Jr. to recognize an outstanding engineer or teacher who best demonstrates teaching excellence in science, math, and creative design, was awarded to Allen Gregory IV, mentor for FIRST Robotics Competition Team 3847, Spectrum - from Houston, Texas.
• The Compass Award for excellence in coaching/mentoring FIRST Tech Challenge was awarded to Scott Chase from Team 12835, Pixelated, from Granger, Ind.
• Coach/Mentor Awards for FIRST LEGO League went to Dave Tomko, of Sharon, Pa.; Neil Corrigan, of Thornhill, Scotland; Scott Chase, of Granger, Ind.; and Bill Lam, of Livingston, N.J.
• FIRST unveiled FIRST®RISESM, a unified season theme for all four FIRST programs that is powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, a philanthropic initiative from Lucasfilm and parent company Disney.  
  “Mentoring is incredibly rewarding. At the beginning of the season, we have people who come in and say, ‘I don't know if I can do this.’ And by two weeks in, they are grabbing tools and figuring out what they can do and trying things out — it's incredible,” said Spring Beasley, director of customer engineering at Boeing and mentor to Reign Robotics. “This experience is echoed by the more than 500 Boeing mentors supporting FIRST teams this season.”

Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide celebrate 18th Annual Comcast Cares Day
PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 50 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country will benefit from hours of landscaping, painting, mentoring, cleaning and other efforts provided by thousands of Comcast NBCUniversal volunteers during the 18th annual Comcast Cares Day, recognized this year on May 4. The tradition was one of the largest corporate commitments to volunteerism and service in America, bringing together more than 100,000 employees, their friends and family members, and local leaders to "make change happen" in their communities.
  "Comcast NBCUniversal's partnership has made an incredible impact on Boys & Girls Club kids and teens, and communities around the country," said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "Thanks to Comcast Cares Day, thousands of volunteers have supported improvement projects that ensure youth have safe, positive and engaging spaces to go afterschool where they can develop critical life skills and make lasting connections with caring mentors." 
  Since the first Comcast Cares Day in 2001, more than 1 million Comcast Cares Day volunteers have contributed over 6 million service hours to improve local communities at more than 10,000 projects around the world, celebrating the company's year-round commitment to volunteerism and service. To date, the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation has awarded nearly $25 million in grants to local nonprofits who have served as partners on Comcast Cares Day, including Boys & Girls Clubs of America.