$160,000 awarded at FIRST

May 5, 2006

Kettering awarded eight more FIRST scholarships and welcomed alumni at a reception during the 2006 FIRST championship games in Atlanta.

Kettering University had a strong and friendly presence in Atlanta, Ga., when thousands of FIRST robotics enthusiasts convened at the Georgia Dome for the international championship games. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1992 to encourage youth to explore careers in engineering and the sciences. FIRST co-founders inventor Dean Kamen '01 and Woodie Flowers of MIT again provided leadership and encouragement to the large group of competitors.

The 2006 "Aim High" games attracted around 350 high school robotics teams from the United States, Canada and Israel and even more participants for the ever-growing Lego League contests for elementary students. There were more than a dozen countries represented in the Lego League contests, including Japan and China. Officials are predicting that Lego League will soon have 7,000 participants worldwide.

"FIRST is more than just international phenomena," said Kettering's Bob Nichols, vice president for Enrollment Management. "To witness the growing enthusiasm that Lego League is building in elementary students around the world and see the ongoing support that higher education and corporate America provides for high school students, attending a FIRST event is like peering into the future."

Once again, the state of Michigan provided the most teams for FIRST robotics at 48 teams. California was second with 34 teams; New Jersey had 26 teams and New York, 25 teams.

Team Kettering had a busy schedule during the FIRST competition. Among the activities:

  • Kettering awarded $160,000 in scholarships to eight talented high school students,
  • hosted an alumni reception that featured a presentation by Dr. Henry "Doc K" Kowalski, professor of Mechanical Engineering,
  • and greeted hundreds of high school students and their parents at Kettering's recruiting table.

There were several familiar faces among the alumni and friends who said hello when Kettering set up scholarship tables at FIRST:

  • Rod '58 and Judy Boyes of Birmingham, Ala., came and said hello. Rod arrived at GMI in 1975 as the department chair of Industrial Management and after several top administrative roles moved on to own his own company: Melior, Inc., which offers online technician training and assessment (visit www.melioronline.com). The couple's son, David Boyes '01, works at Accenture consulting in Chicago.
  • Wayne Schaefer '88 of Sherkston, Ontario, is now in his 22nd year at GM's St. Catherine Engine Plant in Ontario and the director of the FIRST Lego League in Ontario. Lego League in Ontario has grown to 130 teams and is predicted to hit 200 teams soon. "When I tell you about my family, you'll understand my interest," Schaefer said. "My wife, Janet, and I have three children between three and eight years old: Richard, 3; Kendra, 5; and Jenny 8. It's not surprising we want our children to experience this exciting program and then watch its far-reaching effects in 10 years." In their spare time, the Schaefers have a 12-acre hobby farm. Wayne is now a master's candidate at Carnegie Mellon University in software engineering.
  • Cortny Robison '03 was among the mentors at FIRST. A member of Kettering's prestigious Robots honor society while a student, he is now a coach and supporter of Team 503, Frog Force, from Novi. Robison works at Intier Automotive in Novi and lives in Milford.
  • Eric Addae '96 earned a master's degree from Kettering and stopped by the alumni reception to greet "Doc K." Addae is general manager of global operations for Quality Systems and Services International in Covington, Ga. He said the company is growing in international business in quality systems consulting, documentation, training,auditing and outsourcing.

Eight new FIRST Scholars were introduced and congratulated during FIRST, as Kettering handed out $160,000 in eight $20,000 (four-year) scholarships. Joining the freshman class later this year will be:

  • Bailee Alexander, Team 270, Tech Fusion, from Toledo Tech and Rogers High School in Ottawa Lake, Mich., and Toledo, Ohio.
  • Christopher Arnold, Team 47, from Pontiac Central High School. He is a senior at Pontiac Central High School and hopes to major in Mechanical Engineering at Kettering. He's been involved with Chief Delphi since the third grade when he joined the team's cadet program. Chris is a four-year member of Chief Delphi, was the driver last year and is team captain this year.
  • Christopher Domanti, Team 578, Fairport High School, Fairport, N.Y.
  • Ryan Gee, Team 503, from Novi. Ryan has spent four years on Team 503, Novi's Frog Force. A senior at Novi High School, he hopes to study Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering at Kettering and has been attending the Kettering Kickoff since its founding.
  • Joshua McDonell, Team1506, Metal Muscle from Clarkston, which is sponsored by Kettering University. He is a senior at Chippewa Valley High School of Clinton Township and lives in Clinton Township. He hopes to study Industrial Engineering or Mechanical Engineering at Kettering.
  • Kelly Schenck, Team 27, Team Rush, of Lake Orion High School and OSM Tech of Clarkston. Kelly is a senior atLake Orion High School and OSM Tech and is in her second year on Team Rush. She hopes to study Electrical or Computer Engineering.
  • Kevin Sirianni, Team 1188, Oaktown Crewz of Royal Oak. He is a senior at Dondero High School in Royal Oak and is in his third year on the Oaktown Crewz. He hopes to study Mechanical Engineering.
  • Nathan Wallace, Team 494, Goodrich Martians. He is a senior at Goodrich High School and been active on the former national champions Goodrich Martians for three years; two years as the team's driver. He hopes to study Mechanical Engineering.

"FIRST has literally transformed students' lives into being excited about engineering and science careers," Nichols noted.

Written by Pat Mroczek
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