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FIRST® and IndyCar Driver Charlie Kimball Team Up to Encourage Kids to Pursue STEM Careers

IZOD IndyCar Series racer Charlie Kimball and FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen, are taking their passion to the race track as they team up to inspire young people’s interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

Student team member from FIRST(R) Robotics Competition (FRC(R)) Team "Robowranglers" from Greenville ...

Student team member from FIRST(R) Robotics Competition (FRC(R)) Team "Robowranglers" from Greenville, Texas shows IZOD IndyCar series racer Charlie Kimball the inner-workings of his team's robot at the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8, 2013. (Photo: Business Wire)

Kimball hosted students and Mentors of Greenville, Texas-based FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Team “Robowranglers,” at the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8, 2013.

The event marked the official launch of a collaboration between FIRST and Kimball to celebrate young people’s accomplishments in STEM at races, where technology is an important factor, and to encourage kids to pursue STEM activities and careers. Kimball will also invite FIRST teams to join him at The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston and the MAVTV 500 later this fall.

The effort convenes at a time when the Obama Administration is expanding its commitment to improve STEM education. At the April 2013 White House Science Fair, the President announced a variety of private-public partnerships and education initiatives aiming to bolster student performance in STEM subjects.

“Technology, engineering and math play a huge part in the success of an IndyCar team every race weekend,” Kimball said. “Getting students interested in STEM careers through FIRST and its K-12 robotics programs is a great step toward building a better future for not only the students, but also the country as a world leader in science and technology.

“I have long admired the impact FIRST has made by offering robotics programs that change the way young people think, learn and solve problems,” he continued. “It all starts with these kids and I can’t wait to show them a small part of how we use STEM principles to solve problems and go faster on the track.”

“Charlie’s passion and his volunteer work with kids exhibit his values of hard work and determination — some of the very same qualities we teach our FIRST students,” said FIRST Founder, Dean Kamen. “I welcome the opportunity to work with Charlie on our common goals that will foster the next generation of science and technology innovators.”

Kimball’s introduction to racing and STEM came at an early age. Kimball’s father was a race engineer in Formula 1 racing, and his mother was a mathematician. Kimball began racing at age nine on the go-kart track and has pursued his interest ever since.

In 2007, Kimball was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was forced to abandon his racing program mid-season. Determined not to let the diagnosis sidetrack his career, Kimball now uses a device on his steering wheel in the race car, which allows him to see and maintain his sugar levels during a race.

Kimball returned to the cockpit in 2008 and claimed a podium finish in his first race back in the car. Today, Kimball continues to compete in one of the most competitive racing categories in the world, proving that living with diabetes does not have to restrict him from traveling at speeds of more than 200 miles an hour and fulfilling his passion.

For more information about FIRST, please visit www.usfirst.org.

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 over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $16 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. 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.

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