Ned Smith Appointed Regional Director

FIRST News Release

FIRST® Announces Appointment of Ned Smith as Regional Director

MANCHESTER, N.H., August 10, 2009 - 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 today the appointment of Ned Smith as Regional Director for the Erie, Pa., area. FIRST sponsors local and regional robotics competitions in area schools, including the FIRST Robotics Challenge and the FIRST LEGO® League. Smith’s role will be to coordinate FIRST activities in the area and develop new regional partnerships and mentorships with the goal of creating and maintaining robust, volunteer-driven and self-sustaining programs in the region.

The Erie area is represented by four FIRST Robotics teams in local high schools, including Erie City, Harborcreek/Iroquois, Corry and Millcreek/Fairview.  Nearly 50 FIRST LEGO League teams participate from area middle schools with a regional competition scheduled in November.  Regional events are held in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, which culminates in the national Championship to be held in Atlanta in April 2010.

"The ultimate goal of the programs is to inspire youth to take an interest in science, math and technology through robotics," said Smith. "Today’s participants will be tomorrow’s engineers and scientists," said Smith. "The regional competitions take on the flavor of a high intensity sporting event. The enthusiasm of the students is similar to what you would witness at a championship basketball or football game."

"With an underlying principle of 'Gracious ProfessionalismT', FIRST encourages young people to be professionals first and competitors second," said Bruce Linton, Vice President of Planning and Field Operations, FIRST. "Emphasizing the value of others as well as respect for individuals and community, the concept of Gracious Professionalism is paramount to assuring success in both the competitions and later in life."

With a grant from the GE Foundation and a partnership with the national 4-H clubs, emphasis this year will be to develop a FIRST Tech Challenge league in the area. Teams will consist of up to 10 high school-aged youth per team, bridging a gap between the middle-level FIRST LEGO League and the FIRST Robotics Competition. Teams will compete in a regional event in February 2010. Interested groups (groups need not be associated with a school and community groups are welcome) are encouraged to contact Smith via email,, or phone, 814-566-7643. Funding from the GE Foundation will assist in new team startup costs.

Smith is a technology specialist previously employed by the Catholic Schools of the Erie Diocese and the Girard and Iroquois School Districts. He has coached  FIRST LEGO League teams participate from middle schools with a regional competition and was helpful in establishing programs in the Erie City School District when he served as a member of its Board of Directors.

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 the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, 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 children 9-14 years old, and Junior FIRST LEGO® League (Jr.FLL) for 6 to 9 year-olds. 


Media Contact:

Dennis Garrigan
603-666-3906 ext. 454