Press Release - May 24, 2012

FIRST Tech Challenge Announces Three-Year Sponsorship From Alcoa

Alcoa Foundation to support the domestic and global growth of FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams with a $250,000 grant

MANCHESTER, N.H., May 24, 2012FIRST ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit organization that inspires young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, announced today that Alcoa Foundation awarded FIRST ® Tech Challenge (FTC®) a $250,000 grant to promote national and international team growth over a three-year period.  FTC is one of four robotics competitions in the FIRST K-12 family of programs.

The three-year commitment will promote progressive FTC team growth by providing new and existing teams with registration grants in the U.S. and abroad, as well as producing FTC program banners and a promotional video for use in recruiting students to FTC. Through May 2013, Alcoa Foundation will fund 35 teams, as well as providing tournament and event support.  Alcoa employees from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, and the United States will be involved in the program.

“Technology shifts and increasing investments in advanced manufacturing are creating a great demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-capable students worldwide,” said Paula Davis, President, Alcoa Foundation.  “A new workforce of problem-solvers, innovators and inventors, who are self-reliant and able to think logically, is one of the critical drivers of any economy’s innovation capacity and competitiveness.  Together with FIRST, we aim to inspire the next generation of leaders in manufacturing and engineering.”

“Alcoa places high value on organizations that produce measurable, long-term results with a demonstrated track record of success,” said Dean Kamen, FIRST founder and president of DEKA Research & Development Corp.  “We’re pleased that Alcoa is recognizing FIRST Tech Challenge, not only for its rapid growth here and abroad, but also for its positive impact on technology workforce development and its power to build self-confidence and instill a passion for STEM.”

As part of the competition, FTC teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete in an Alliance format against other teams. Teams, including Coaches, Mentors, and Volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles.

Subsequent years of the grant include continued registration fees to build national and international teams, multiple language versions of promotional materials showcasing the current need for STEM education, and the extension of grants to Foundation-funded FIRST international teams.

“We’re proud that Alcoa Foundation is supporting the growth of FTC,” said Ken Johnson, Director of FIRST Tech Challenge. “The Foundation’s financial support will allow our student teams to focus on honing their skills in Science and Technology. We welcome the opportunity for FIRST students to work with the professionals at Alcoa who will help to promote FTC excellence and core values to our young people worldwide.”

About Alcoa Foundation

Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately US$446 million. Founded more than 50 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than US$550 million since 1952.  In 2011, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than US$20 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships, engaging its people to improve the environment and educating tomorrow’s leaders.  The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their energy, passion and purpose to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2011, a record 56 percent of Alcoa employees took part in more than 1,200 events across 24 countries, reaching 81,000 children, serving 9,000 meals, planting 34,000 trees and supporting 1,800 nonprofit organizations. More information can be found at www.alcoafoundation.com.

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 nearly $15 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., Canada, and Mexico) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism® 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 www.usfirst.org.

Media Contacts:

Dennis Garrigan, FIRST 
Ph. 603-206-2454
dgarrigan@usfirst.org