FIRST Names New Executive Advisory Board Members

FIRST News Release 

FIRST ® Names New Executive Advisory Board Members

Autodesk Chief Education Officer, President of Worcester Polytech, CTO of Rockwell Automation & GM’s Chief of Global Electrical Systems Join the FIRST Executive Advisory Board

MANCHESTER, N.H., December 14, 2010 - FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, announced the appointment of new members to the Executive Advisory Board (EAB) of FIRST.

The new board members include Dr. Joe Astroth, Chief Education Officer, Autodesk; Dr. Dennis Berkey, President and CEO, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Sujeet Chand, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Rockwell Automation; and Michael J. "Micky" Bly, Executive Director, Global Electrical Systems, General Motors.

"All of our new board members offer an extraordinary blend of industry, academic, management and leadership experience that will help guide FIRST related programs," said Dr. Woodie Flowers, Chairman of the FIRST Executive Advisory Board, and FIRST National Advisor. "All of these professional individuals share a dedication to promoting innovation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs by virtue of the roles they play in workforce development. Joe, Dennis, Sujeet and Micky rank among the top in their fields for engineering and technology, and ultimately, FIRST students stand to benefit from their contributions and insight."

The Executive Advisory Board of FIRST is made up of a cross-section of individuals from business, industry, academia and the sciences whose role it is to provide advice, work on special projects, and interact directly with FIRST senior staff and Board members. EAB members meet regularly to assist FIRST in furthering its goals and presents recommendations as well as issues to discuss with the FIRST Board of Directors. New appointments to the FIRST EAB include:

Dr. Joe Astroth, Chief Education Officer, Autodesk

Joe Astroth is responsible for leading Autodesk’s worldwide education efforts and its team of nearly 70 professionals dedicated to education programs in curriculum, development, product development, online communities, programs/sponsorships, training and marketing. He has been part of the Executive Management Team at Autodesk for more than 14 years and has spearheaded his company’s involvement in FIRST programs through the recruitment of teams, Coaches, Mentors, Sponsors, and awards. As a corporate Sponsor, Astroth actively promotes FIRST for its ability to transform the lives of young people and to change the world. Astroth, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, was awarded the Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship and the Mellon Foundation Dissertation Award.

Dennis Berkey, President and CEO, Worcester Polytechical Institute

Dr. Berkey was appointed President and CEO of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in 2004 following years of service in higher education as a tenured faculty member and senior administrator at Boston University. At WPI, Berkey has emphasized new faculty and academic programs, especially bioengineering and life sciences, robotics engineering, and in developing research facilities in bioengineering and life sciences. In addition, he has expanded programming in corporate and global education, and labor force development. Berkey is active in service to the City of Worcester and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, serving on the Governor’s Task Force on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education. He is also a member of the Massachusetts High Technology Council.

An award winning teacher, Berkey is the author of several mathematics textbooks. His published research is in applied mathematics, and has held administrative posts as department chair, dean of arts and sciences, and university provost. His academic degrees - all in mathematics - include a B.A. from Muskingum College, an M.A. from Miami University and a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati.

Sujeet Chand, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Rockwell Automation

Sujeet Chand leads the Rockwell Automation Technical Council and drives technology leadership and vision for the company through technical innovation, engineering best practices and company-wide technology roadmaps. Chand is also responsible for the evolution of the next generation architecture and platforms for the company. He is responsible for the development of technology strategy to support business growth, and the leadership of Research and Development, standards and trade organization with operations in Asia, Europe and the United States. Chand has published over 50 technical papers in research journals and conferences and holds nine patents.

Prior to assuming his current role, Chand held the positions of Director, Manager and Principal Scientist at Rockwell Scientific Company. He serves on the boards of the Wisconsin Technology Council, the University of Wisconsin Foundation and the Advisory Board for Robert W. Baird Venture Partners. Chand holds a Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Florida, Gainesville.

Michael J. "Micky" Bly, Executive Director, Global Electrical Systems, General Motors Co.

Bly oversees General Motors’ development of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, which includes the Chevrolet Volt’s vehicle integration and battery development. He has overseen the teams responsible for the production and development of GM’s multiple hybrid vehicles, and contributed to the integration work on the Volt. Bly’s team of engineers made sure all of the components - from the engine, transmission, brakes and batteries, to the computers and the software that run electronic controls - came together seamlessly. His work with the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid was recognized by Green Car Journal as "Green Car of the Year." 

Bly joined GM as a student intern in 1986 and was hired on to GM’s engineering staff after graduating from Georgia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1990. In 2003, he received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and $14 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLLT) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious ProfessionalismT is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to


Media Contacts:

Dennis Garrigan, FIRST