Rhode Island congressman Jim Langevin opened the second day of the Business Innovation Factory’s Collaborative Innovation conference yesterday with the announcement that the Business Innovation Factory, a non profit sponsored by the Governor’s office, in partnership with Dean Kamen’s FIRST Challenge, will now bring a robotics program to every high school in Rhode Island.
Through a series of robotics competitions, Dean Kamen’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) project brings together industry partners and schools to stimulate kids and instill in them a love for everything that is science and engineering related. Born out of the realization that we are losing our future competitive edge by not educating enough scientists and engineers, the program has been found to have a dramatic impact on science and engineering education. In fact, a study conducted by Brandeis University found that 59% of FIRST participants want to pursue careers in science and engineering. Not only that, the same study found that there is a 50% higher likelihood that students who participated in the FIRST program will go to college! FIRST participants are also 10X as likely to take on internships during their college Freshman year, and they are more than twice as likely to pursue a science and technology career.
This demonstrates how industry and government can team up together to truly deliver transformational projects in the area of education. Hopefully many other states will follow suit!