FIRST friends gather in Atlanta

Apr 22, 2004

Kettering had a number of alumni and friends participating at last week's 2004 FIRST Robotics International Championships, hosted at the George Dome in Atlanta.

Kettering University had a number of alumni and friends participating at last week's 2004 FIRST Robotics International Championships, hosted at the George Dome in Atlanta. The April 15-17 event culminated months of preparation by high school students and their mentors working with FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FIRST promotes careers in science and engineering and encourages participants to use "gracious professionalism" as they deal with teammates and competitors.

"This is such a great event," said Bob Nichols '74, Kettering's vice president of Corporate Relations and Enrollment Services. "Kettering has been involved in FIRST for around eight years, and it just gets better every year."

Kettering awarded $180,000 to nine Kettering FIRST Scholars, part of the $4.5 million given away during the international finals. (See scholars story at Around 20,000 people participated in FIRST in 2004, including 7,000 of the country's top math and science high school students.

Among Kettering's students attending the event was Shawn Lim, a senior from Toronto, Ontario, who is currently completing his thesis and will graduate in June with a degree in Computer Engineering. Lim received one of the first Kettering FIRST Scholarships ever presented by the University.

"I was a Canadian student, so with my FIRST and academic scholarships and my co-op earnings I was able to come out on top," Lim said. "There is probably no where else in the states or the world that provides this kind of education and opportunity," he said. "It is the only way I would ever have been able to do this."

In 2,000 Lim joined with a couple of his high schools friends (also FIRST participants) and co-founded Flatline Solutions, Inc., a utility interval metering company."Wedesign efficiency systems so companies can cut back on electrical use - a very timely issue in Canada right now," he added.

Lim, who is the chief operating officer for Flatline Solutions, was at the FIRST contest in Atlanta as a corporate sponsor. His team, Team 188, was awarded the national award for best website and was honored during the closing ceremonies of the international FIRST games.

Among the University's friends attending the FIRST finals were Paul and Linda Wahnish of Palm Harbor, Fla. Linda's father, the late Robert Tuck, was a graduate of Kettering/General Motors Institute, who was a donor and strong supporter of the University. Attending the event with them were sons Samuel, 17, and Mark, 12.

Alumni participants at FIRST included:

  • Erin Shirley of Jackson, Miss., who earned a master's degree in manufacturing management from Kettering in 2000. She is an engineer at Delphi Corp and was at FIRST supporting Team 462, the Ramblers of Jackson, Miss., which received a national Judge's Award for exuding the spirit of FIRST.
  • Wayne Schaefer '88, is an electrical engineer for General Motors of Canada and works as controls engineer for new and major projects at the St. Catharines Engine Plant in St. Catharines, Ontario. Schaefer worked with Team 1114, Simbotics.
  • Joe McQueen '00 of Fenton, who is a mentor for Team 322, Flint FIRE. McQueen works for General Motors at Flint North as a supervisor and is currently studying for an MBA at the University of Michigan. Team 322 was very successful in the competition, finishing as runner-up in its division.
  • Brad Duggan of Ortonville, attended FIRST with his wife, Susan, and their three sons who are all part of Team 27, Team Rush. Duggan's family has a Kettering/GMI tradition. Brad is a 1981 GMI graduate,Brad's sisters, Paula Degeneffe '80 and Cheryl Reichert '83, are both graduates and so is Cheryl's husband, Fred Reichert '83.

Written by Pat Mroczek
Photos by Pat Mroczek
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