FIRST announces new President


Don Bossi brings deep technical and management skills to the
international, afterschool, K-12 robotics organization

Manchester, N.H., May 15, 2013 – 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, has announced the appointment of Don Bossi as President of FIRST. The appointment was announced today by the Co-Chairs of the FIRST Board of Directors, Sheri McCoy and Bob Tuttle, and FIRST Founder, Dean Kamen, and is effective May 22.
“Don Bossi has a solid history of leadership in the business of technology combined with a clear commitment to the objectives of FIRST. He has successfully run big organizations, as well as small entrepreneurial start-ups. He has the right combination of technical smarts, management smarts, and people skills for FIRST,” said Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder.

Bossi, who has excelled in a 20-year career with several high technology companies, primarily in the fiber optics field, is now anxious to give back and help develop the next generation of innovators. Starting his career as a research scientist, first at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and then at United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), he was a part of an advanced project at UTRC which was acquired by JDS Uniphase (JDSU) and he moved to the new company. After a series of promotions at JDSU, he became Vice President and General Manager for JDSU Electro-Optics Products. The Division grew tenfold during his involvement there. Bossi next served as Group President of JDSU Active Components Group for two years, and then as Group President, JDSU Transmission Products Group for two years. In 2005, Don joined Technology Ventures Partners to work with their high-tech portfolio companies. While at the venture group, he served as the CEO of Aegis Lightware, Inc. and then as CEO of Inlet Technologies, positioning the company for a beneficial acquisition by Cisco. Most recently, Bossi served as the COO of CIDRA Holdings in Wallingford, Conn.

“I’m very excited to join FIRST, since I believe so deeply in its mission. In this role, I can help others discover the rewards of an education and career in science and technology that I have enjoyed. I look forward to working with the many volunteers and sponsors who have decided that FIRST is an excellent investment for the future.” said Bossi.

Bossi is the holder of four U.S. patents and author of numerous technical presentations. He holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and has completed executive education courses at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He served on the Boards of Directors of several privately held companies, and is also a member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.
Don and his wife, Susan, who have one college-aged daughter, will relocate from Connecticut to New Hampshire. FIRST successfully utilized the firm of Heidrick & Struggles during a thorough search process.

Does anyone know about his former involvement with FIRST?

After five or so minutes of Google-fu, I didn’t see any prior relation to FIRST.

Assuming my Google-fu skills didn’t fail me, this actually upsets me a bit.

I don’t see why that would be upsetting.

While it would be cool to say we have a FIRST president who was in our shoes all those years ago, as long as he is passionate of the goals of FIRST as anyone else, and has the skills needed to back it up (at it certainly appears that he has both of these), I look forward to seeing what he can bring to FIRST!

I don’t know how bad it is if he didn’t work with FIRST before. Bringing new presidents that weren’t involved with the organization they are hired by is actually a common practice. Bringing someone “from the outside” can help bring new ideas and introduce managment techniques that FIRST didn’t have and can improve the efficiency and success of the organization.

That said, while I trust FIRST’s Board of Directors to make the best decision for the organization, I’m not 100% confident in the decision if he had no relations with FIRST at all.

I hope that his prior experience in industry will help Dr. Bossi form a strong vision for FRC to continue the program growth. Team satisfaction and cost reduction seem to be two major issues that FRC is facing with the growth of other competitive robotics programs (ie, VEX).

Congratulations, Dr. Bossi! Help us grow FRC.

Frankly, I can’t put this into words nearly as well as I’d like. I guess, my bigger question is has he even been to an event? How familiar is he with our culture? Does he understand why teams are more than willing to help a team completely rebuild a robot at competition or why we do the outreach that we do?

I’m interested in seeing what he can bring to the table, however. That being said, Congratulations, Dr. Bossi!

He seems well qualified. Bringing in outside vision keeps us from becoming too inbred. Something that is an issue with another national organization that I am involved with.

Now he can confirm the wisdom of choosing him by removing “acting” from Frank’s title. :slight_smile:

Any way Welcome Don!!

Based on the summary, Don Bossi is a tech business rock star.

Lack of previous experience in a FIRST program doesn’t strike me as a negative for this role. Dean and Woodie had no experience with FIRST-like programs, either, when they started this whole thing. (Well, Dr. Flowers did, but only with MIT students. I wonder if Don Bossi was one of those students? )

And I agree that one of the best initial moves Dr. Bossi could make would be to remove the “acting” from Frank Merrick’s title.

Don was General Manager of the JDSU plant in Bloomfield, CT when it was one of the major sponsors of Team Paragon (#571) in the early 2000’s time frame. That sponsorship got me involved with my 12yr and running involvement with FIRST.

Granby GRUNTS #3146 - mentor

My intel says he got his BSEE from MIT in 86, and his PhD in EE in 90, so its very possible he crossed paths with Dr. Flowers just as FIRST was being started (though not sure how much the EE/ME department interacted back then).

I’m also wondering with his MIT LL and UTRC affiliations if that gave him any exposure to FIRST before. UTC is certainly a huge supporter of FIRST and has been since the early days, and MIT LL has had some involvement & certainly several judges (though he wasn’t one of them - I think he was gone to CT before the Boston regional started up) up here in the Boston Area.

Hm. Working for a boss named Bossi.

The guy definitely has the credentials to do this, and the FIRST message isn’t that hard to understand. I just hope he hangs around for several years, consistency helps us.

First off, let me welcome Dr. Bossi to FIRST. (Are you reading this?)

I am looking forward to meeting you in June during the Annual Senior Mentor/Regional Director/Partner Conferences at HQ. I hope you book a couple hours of your day to spend with us at some point during the week we will be at HQ. There is no other group of people that I know of, for you to talk to, get to understand and get educated on what FIRST does for students as well as the good and not so good things teams have to deal with.

Can I be honest? I’d almost rather someone who is not currently a part of FIRST for one selfish reason. . . new contacts. My hope is that Mr. Bossi has a wide range of contacts outside of FIRST that he can introduce into the mix.


This is an exciting moment for FIRST, I’m glad we have a new president for the new age of FIRST robotics. I wish Mr. Bossi luck and a welcome to the community.