In recognition of winning the first-ever Dean’s List Award, nine of the 10 winners of this prestigious award were treated to a trip to FIRST Headquarters and DEKA Research & Development (Dean Kamen’s company) in Manchester, New Hampshire at the end of July. The red carpet was rolled out for them and they got a great opportunity to see behind the scenes at both organizations and meet the wonderful staffers who contribute to their success.
When Dean evolved the concept of the Dean’s List Award along with his mother, Evelyn, and FIRST visionaries Vince Wilczynski and Ceci Neumann, the idea was to individually recognize members of the FIRST community who excelled as student leaders and led their teams and communities to increased awareness of the mission of FIRST. Dean’s expectation to find the ‘best of the best’ was exceeded right out of the gate and the 10 winners that emerged are truly superstars in their own right. A true tribute to the FIRST community overall, however, was the caliber of all the entrants, some 500+, who made choosing the Finalists (92) and the Winners (10) quite a challenge for the Committee.
The 2010 Winners, in team order are:
548 – Beth Hadley, Novi, MI
694 – Seth Berg, New York, NY
1002 – Kyle Fender, Marietta, GA
1480 – Carlos Pineda, Houston, TX
1535 – Ian Graham, Sault-Ste-Marie, Canada
1712 – Delia Votsch, Narbeth, PA
2437 – Caitlin Mori, Honolulu, HI
2614 – Luke Scime, Morgantown, WV
3132 – Sarah Heimlich, Sydney, Australia
3368 – Ingrid Fiedler, Good Rich, MI (via Bosnia)
All but Seth Berg, who was on a graduation trip with his family, made the trip to New Hampshire in late July. The students arrived on Wednesday night, July 21 and while most had chatted via email and Skype, this was the first time they had all met face to face. Meeting others from around the globe who shared their enthusiasm for the FIRST program and who truly “got” each other made for some long hours chatting into the wee hours of Thursday morning.
On Thursday, the students and their chaperones were picked up and transported to the FIRST building located in the historic Millyard section of Manchester where they were greeted by Dean, new FIRST president Jon Dudas, and FRC Director Bill Miller. FRC staffers provided a facility tour (except for the Engineering level currently in LOCKDOWN for the 2011 game!), visited the SEE Science Center and viewed the impressive Millyard model, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company circa 1900, built entirely of LEGO® elements (some 3 million LEGO bricks) in 55:1 scale. Some great history of FIRST was shared by veteran FRC staffers and a Q&A period followed. After lunch, the group changed and headed to Westwind, Dean’s home, for a private, behind-the-scenes tour by DEKA staffers and then dinner at the Supplier Summit, an annual event held each summer to honor those vendors contributing specifically to the Kit of Parts. This was the first time students were ever invited to this event and it gave both the vendors and the students access into each other’s world. After a traditional New England Clambake and a wonderful speech delivered by Beth Hadley and Sarah Heimlich on behalf of the Dean’s List Winners, the students headed back to the hotel to crash.
On Friday, the group headed to DEKA to spend the day with Dean and his staff. There they talked more about FIRST, got a tour of DEKA including the infamous Luke arm, and got a bird’s eye view of the inner workings of DEKA by key staffers. Students went back to the hotel to change and then returned to FIRST Place, the FIRST museum and training center, where Dean hosted an informal dinner with the students, their chaperones, key FRC staffers, Vince and Ceci. Also present were admissions reps from MIT and WPI who joined in the discussion as to how the winners could helpFIRST build an alumni base to continue as mentors, sponsors, etc. for a new generation.
On Saturday, members of the group who had not yet graduated from high school were treated to a tour of MIT by the MITers, many who are ex-FRC team members and now students there. Upon arriving at MIT, they were greeted by our own Woodie Flowers who was a BIG hit with students and were once again treated to a tour of areas not usually shown to non-student visitors. The students had a wonderful day exploring and seeing Cambridge before heading home on Sunday.
Seth, Ian, Caitlin, Delia, Carlos and Luke headed off to college this fall and will continue to promote FIRST at their universities and volunteer at area events. Beth, Kyle, Ingrid and Sarah are in their senior years and will be back with their teams for one more year. They will continue to promote FIRST programs, including FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge in their region, and will no doubt make even greater strides in the promotion of FIRST going forward.
It was rewarding for FIRST staffers to meet these students and spend time with them and their chaperones, many of whom were parents. “This is an extraordinary group of young people who give me great confidence in our future at their hands,” said Carla Proulx, FRC International Coordinator. “As we all know, it is often the troubled youth who make the headlines in our world. How refreshing it is to see these students being recognized for their great work and positive actions.” She added a note to the FIRST community: “This group will be a tough act to follow, but I look forward to meeting and working with the next group of Dean’s List Winners in 2011.”
Beth Hadley, Team 548, Robostangs, Michigan
Seth Berg, Team 694, Stuypulse, NY
Kyle Fender, Team 1002, CircuitRunners Robotics, Georgia
Carlos Pineda, Team 1480, Robatos Locos, Texas
Ian Graham, Team 1535, Knights of Alloy, Canada
Delia Votsch, Team 1712, DAWGMA, Pennsylvania
Caitlin Mori, Team 2437, Lancer Robotics, Hawaii
Luke Scime, Team 2614, MARS, West Virginia
Sarah Heimlich, Team 3132, Thunder Down Under, Austrailia
Ingrid Fiedler, Team 3368, Spirit of the United Nertva, Mostar