Why FIRST is important...

Just found this article (it was on Digg today). Big in Japan

It reinforces what we already know: while our priorities are on Brad Pitt, etc, other parts of the world have their eye on other matters.

How many of you know that Dr. Murphy (the one who established the Woodie Flowers Award) is the son of a Nobel Laureate? Not as many as should know.

FIRST is all about changing the culture. The stakes are high.

Joe J.

Great article, Joe!

Speaking of Joe and Dr. Murhpy … I’d like to tell the rest of you of my #1 experience from the 2006 Championships:

After congratulating friends at Saturday’s awards ceremony, I raced over to Centennial Park. I was fortuneate enough to have a VIP pass, and the main person I wanted to talk to* in the VIP tent was Dr. Murphy. He has not been to the Championships since 2003, and his presence has been sorely missed. I got my chance to speak with him, and we had a 15-20 minute conversation. Toward the end of our talk, I noticed Dr. Joe standing close by. At a break in our talk, I introduced Joe to Dr. Murphy, saying “Joe is one of my heroes in FIRST”. It was pretty neat to be able to introduce one man that I admire very much to another who we both admire.

  • It’s been about 2 months since my 4 year-old daughter had laproscopic surgery to have her gall bladder removed. Dr. Murphy gave me some great insight about how that surgery was developed and described some history of various surgical and medical advancements through engineering. I only wish I had a tape recorder to recall all that he said. I thanked him for his part in helping make these advancements in order to help the doctors who made my daughter healthy.

Andy B.

That reminds me of a profound story of my own from Championships.

Me and one other girl from my team were to show around a possible ambassador of FIRST. We got Dr. Murphy’s wife. I remember the people in charge of the Hall of Fame gave us a list of teams to visit and why we should show them to our ambassador. More than half of the teams on the list were on the list for “strong corporate sponsors”. We went to the team who won woodie flowers, and some other teams that won some other awards, and she seemed really distant and non-talkative and it seemed odd to me, because she didn’t seem like that kind of person. So I said to Kristen, “We really shouldn’t take her to the corporate sponsor teams” “Why not?” “Because thats not what FIRST is really about, is it? She doesn’t seem to care about what teams have won or whether the have money. I know I don’t.” and then she turned around and said “Take me to a team that HASN’T won anything” and she stood there and talked to a rookie team who hadn’t done much of anything for about a half hour. Then we let HER lead US around. After that, she told us all sorts of amazing stories and I found myself really enjoying talking to her.

It made me realize that it really doesn’t matter what you win, or how much money is in your team budget, all that matters is that your THERE, your having FUN, and your GP all the way no matter what.

This is a perfect story. Bev Murphy understands FIRST more than most of us, and has for a very long time. Her lesson is one from which we can all learn.


p.s. every year, people ask how the GDC figures out if they have created a successful game or not. Every year, we listen to comments and feedback from the teams, the students, the mentors, the sponsors, the audience, FIRST staff, event volunteers, and lots of other sources. But for my personal “successful game design” litmus test, I always talk to Bev Murphy. Bev is our harshest critic when it comes to the design of the game. Because of that, she is also the one that I listen to the most. She sees the good and bad points better than almost anyone. Every year I ask her what we did wrong, and she lets me know with no holds barred. I won’t really be happy with the design of any FRC game until the day that I ask Bev Murphy “how did we do?” and she just smiles.

It reinforces what we already know: while our priorities are on Brad Pitt, etc, other parts of the world have their eye on other matters.

Actually, that interpretation may not be entirely correct. I have a book that I have been meaning to read and one of the arguments that it makes is that there is a noticable backlash occuring towards science and technology in the entertainment industry. People have become jaded with technology and science. It is a completely different scenario than the one in the article but the argument can be made especially from some of the anime I have seen.

I’ve thought about your post and a couple of thoughts have risen to the top.
Sometimes a key to successful leadership is overlooked or not implemented.
The ability to adjust to the circumstances and to follow the guidance presented. Both of you paid attention to your ambassador and picked up on the signals she was sending. You adjusted your plan, followed her lead, and helped to create a great experience for each of you and for the team Mrs. Murphy spent time with. Good job.

I just read the article Dr. Joe linked to. It was very interesting, but the most interesting part was the advertisements posted on the same page. In three separate locations there was an add for Vonage that declared, “No Nerds. No Problems.” I find it sad and ironic that an article that underscores the lack of appreciation for science and technology displayed by the American public is literally surrounded by advertisements re-enforcing the same negative stereotype.

If I missed something please let me know.


ps. Check out the latest edition of Machine Design magazine to read reader responses to the editorial criticizing Dean Kamen and FIRST. (Yes, this is a shameless plug for my own published letter. :slight_smile: )

FIRST works. As an example, Christina Rodi, co-founder of Team 975 and winner of one of the FIRST scholarships at VCU, just graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She will start working for Dominion Virginia Power at a power plant.