Engineered for the Future: FedEx and FIRST Robotics
In 1989, Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway and the portable insulin pump, wanted to find a way share his enthusiasm and inspire young people to become science and technology leaders.
Kamen’s passion for science and education led to the creation of FIRST Robotics. More than just a robot building competition, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) engages students in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
This year’s FIRST team competitions are in full swing, and we were happy to ship the teams’ kits of parts all around the world so that teams could start working on their robots at the same time. After the theme was announced in January, each team immediately began frantically working on their robots for regional competitions in hopes to ultimately compete in the annual championship competition in St. Louis, MO on April 24 – 27. FedEx understands how important these robots are to the teams, and we are honored that they trust us to ship them.
FedEx has been a proud supporter of FIRST since 2002. We have provided approximately $1M annually in donated shipping by moving an estimated 12 million pounds, including the starter kit of parts and completed robots to competitions. This year, we are also investing in the 2014 FRC Rookie Grant program. This program is allowing FedEx to fund several new teams over three years and track the progress of the teams. It’s wonderful to know that we’ve been able to help teams who might not have had the opportunity without this kind of support. And some of these rookie teams have already won awards, some even advancing to FIRST Robotics Championships!
This is a relationship that just makes sense to both organizations. Our chairman, Fred Smith, had a vision for an overnight delivery system. He created an industry that revolutionized the way the world does business. Innovation continues to be an integral part of the FedEx culture and business strategy. Smith and Kamen both value STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
Take a look at the video clip below, from last year’s FIRST Robotics Championships. The energy and enthusiasm is captured very well in the video, but you really have to see it yourself to fully appreciate the experience. You never know who you will see from students all the way from Australia to celebrities like will.i.am! Last year, there were 10,000+ students from 37 countries, and all of these students defined sportsmanship.
If one team needs a tool, the other teams fight to get it to that team first. They call this behavior “Gracious Professionalism” and “Coopertition”. Coopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. How amazing is that?
These fantastic students are the next generation who will carry on not only the amazing innovation and technology that is in the FedEx DNA, but they also personify the FedEx culture by treating people with respect.
And for that, the relationship between FIRST and FedEx just makes sense.