"The average kid on the street can tell you the names of a dozen football players or basketball players or Hollywood stars. None of them can tell you the name of any famous living scientist or engineer."

—Dean Kamen, inventor, in an interview with CBS News

Right now, we're in the thick of competition season for FIRST Robotics. Some 400,000 kids in more than 80 countries are duking it out in a series of bouts with robots they designed and built themselves. It's all in good fun—intensely competitive and widely watched. But the primary goal of the robotic sporting spectacle is about something more transformative than thrill of victory. Dean Kamen, the renowned inventor who established FIRST 25 years ago, says the long-running nonprofit promotes a cause near and dear to his heart. And the stakes are high.

"FIRST is all about changing our culture ... for the better," he told CMS Wire earlier this year. "More than 25 years ago, I saw a culture where celebrities and athletes were celebrated and revered, and scientists and engineers were not. I believed then and still believe not that our collective future depends on getting more kids from every background interested and turned onto science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), so that they might seek education and careers in these fields."

We couldn't agree more.

It's about motivating students to understand, use and enjoy technology through project-based learning.

It's about propelling the next generation of scientists and engineers.

It's about raising the profile of today's scientists and engineers.

It's also about legacy, Kamen adds, a way of perpetuating his love of inventing to young people around the world. Kamen, an autodidact who holds more than 400 U.S. and foreign patents, is credited with saving thousands of lives with his healthcare inventions, among a myriad others.

FRC Team 4019 - Bridges Academy - Studio City, CA

Because to invent, ultimately, is to give—something he elaborates on in a TED talk you can watch here.

It's a message that resonates strongly with us as a manufacturer of guided motion solutions. That's why we proudly support FIRST by donating large quantities of DualVee linear guide track for teams to use in building their robots. We also sponsor several local teams. This season, those teams are:

  • FRC Team 1458—Red Tie Robotics, Monte Vista High School in Danville, CA
  • FRC Team 3470—The Patriots, Heritage High School in Brentwood, CA
  • FRC Team 4019—Bridges Academy, Studio City, CA
  • FRC Team 692—The Fembots, St. Francis High School, Sacramento, CA

To learn more about our FIRST sponsorships, including how your team can become a sponsee, click here.