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APRIL 2022 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 57 As I watched the event it was clear that this was so much more than building and battling robots. FIRST is a program that is helping kids build self-confidence and so much more. In 2016, I had a chance to interview Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST. In that interview, Dean said: "We have a million and a quarter kids involved in FIRST (For Inspiration and Rec- ognition of Science and Technology) with the same passion as any other sport. ey go to the competitions; they bring the cheerleaders and the mascots and the school bands. ey live and breathe the technology and the excite- ment of the competitions, except at the end of the season, these kids have learned how to build electronics, how to write code, how to fix the code they wrote, how to debug those elec- tronics, and how to figure out why the smoke is coming out of that magic box." I found this and more to be true at the March event. To have such an astounding number of students involved is fantastic. e students are learning how to work together as a team and contribute in many ways, aside from the actual build of the robot. I was told that there could be as many as 50 kids connected to one robot team. Students are fundraising, building workbenches, designing logos, producing video and photogra- phy, and so much more. Talking to some of the mentors and volun- teers at the event, many indicated that they went through the FIRST program and because it had such an impact on their lives, they want to stay a part of it, give back, and have fun doing so. By the way, 7034 is the robot for the 2B Determined team. As it turns out, 2B Deter- mined has done very well and heads to the world competition in Texas, April 19-23, 2022. FURTHER READING: "The Future of the World is Truly in the Hands of Our Youth," by Barry Matties, December 2019. "Interview with Dean Kamen, Segway Inventor and Founder of FIRST," by Barry Matties, April 2016. Details on the FIRST 2022 Championship: firstchampionship.org. Curious about the FIRST robotic challenge? Here's a snapshot video of a FIRST event from the recent 2022 Pacific Northwest FIRST District Championship in Salem, Oregon. ROBOTICS TEAM SPECIAL REPORT

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