From the author of THE NEW COOL

FIRST Community,

Neal Bascomb here, the author of THE NEW COOL, a soon-to-be published book by Random House that follows a season in FIRST, particularly through the eyes of one remarkable team and their mentor. The folks here at Chief Delphi were kind enough to highlight the book on the site.

Since the promotion began, there’s been a bunch of questions. I want to answer a few simple ones, then make a couple comments.

  1. The book will be in bookstores on March 1, 2011, but it is available now for pre-order before the holidays and after on Amazon and a bunch of other online book retailers (as well as Quick comment: the more pre-orders we have, the better chance the book will hit the bestseller lists, the more FIRST will be promoted (I know there’s some self-interest in there, but it’s also true).

2.Who am I? I am not affiliated with any team. I am a journalist and full-time author of five books (this is my fifth). To be honest, I didn’t know much about FIRST when I started this project at the kickoff in 2009. Thanks to a lot of in-depth reporting over two years, and more importantly, the generous time and efforts of many FIRST mentors and students, I feel like I offered in this book an accurate, hopefully inspiring, look at what it is to be on a team. This is not a “technical” book, but rather one that reads like a sports narrative, following mentors and students from kickoff, to the intense early strategy sessions, through the up-and-downs of build season, the all-nighter before ship, and onto regionals and the national championship.

  1. Who’s the team? When I first began this project, my intention was to chronicle the story of three teams in the 2009 season. 1717 out of Goleta, California. 395 out of Bronx, New York, and 217 out of Sterling Heights, MI. In the end I concentrated most of the narrative on 1717, the D’Penguineers, led by Amir Abo-Shaeer, because of how well their story fit into showing what it is to be both a “rookie team” as well as one that is always in the running at competitions [not that these two are mutually exclusive]. That said, the story touches in some depth on the other teams I mentioned as well as Team 67, HOT. Further, every student, mentor, and FIRST volunteer I met and interviewed informs the book.

  2. Yes, there is a movie in the works. Scott Rudin, the Oscar-winning producer of most recently The Social Network, is developing a film from the book, in association with Disney. I wish I could tell you if it’s actually going to happen, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Finally, I just want to say how lucky I feel to have been given the chance to investigate the world of FIRST to write this book. I never cease to be amazed by the generosity of spirit and the intense passion every single member of FIRST displays. I have to give a special shout-out to every mentor and student who suffered my endless questions and my shadowing of their efforts, whether during build season or at competition. Thank you. Thank you.

I hope everyone enjoys the book and feels that it honors your experiences in FIRST. That was my wholehearted intention. Please spread the news to friends, family, and colleagues. Not only is word-of-mouth great for the book, but as Dean Kamen told me personally, this book could do wonders in spreading the message of FIRST. It’d be incredible if it did.

Also, I’d love to hear from you personally. You can contact me through my website:

Look forward to seeing some old friends, and meeting news ones, at Kickoff and throughout the 2011 season.

My best,

Neal Bascomb

I can not wait to read the book, and the idea of a movie blows my mind. Even more because it’s the same guy that directed the social network (Haven’t seen it, but the trailer looks great)

This sounds like a really great book. Thank you for investing so much of your time to join the FIRST community and help us spread the message!

Out of curiosity, what motivated you to contact some FIRST teams and write a book about their experience and your experience following them for 2 years?

Thanks for the enthusiasm. I originally came to the story of FIRST through my nephew, who was absolutely blown away by his experience on a FRC team in New Jersey. The program sounded interesting, so I came up to Manchester for the 2009 kickoff, more thinking this would make an interesting newspaper/magazine article than a book. One morning at kickoff, and I knew this was story, to tell it right, needed a book. And I was off.

Very exciting! Add me to the ranks of the pre-ordered.
Neil-I assume you have seen it, but just in case -make sure you take a look at the book FIRST-Chronicles of Inspiration, Competition and Changing the World. 2007 Palo Alto Press. Book Concept and Project Direction by Laura London.

Some great FIRST stories!


On Behalf of Team 341, thank you for focusing your attention on FIRST. Hopefully the book and subsequent movie will inspire many children to pursue their dreams and inspire more adults to help them get there.

Best Wishes!

Al Ostrow

Thank you very much Neal!

I am glad that you decided to dedicate such a large amount of your time to this program. You are truly what keeps it growing and gaining world recognition.


saw the trailer on the website…the penguin waddling scene was the best lol :slight_smile: