SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva

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FIRST® and 3M Showcase the Excitement of Science and Engineering on the NASCAR Track with Sprint Cup Series Driver Greg Biffle

What do science education and sports car racing have in common? Hundreds of kids and parents will find out this Sunday, August 18, during the Pure Michigan 400 Sprint Cup race, as FIRST® and 3M team up with NASCAR driver, Greg Biffle, to ignite kids’ passion in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Families will rally around the track in Brooklyn, Mich. to watch Biffle race the No. 16 Ford Fusion, vying for a winning spot with just four races left before the season cut-off. During this race, Biffle will prominently display the red, white and blue FIRST logo on the hood of his car.

FIRST is a not-for-profit that inspires kids to pursue careers in STEM via intense, fun robotic competitions and Biffle is helping the organization and its Sponsor, 3M, educate families about the exciting career connection between science and sports.

“Families are in for a fast-paced thrill this weekend,” said Biffle. “Just as FIRST offers robotic competitions that combine the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology, the FIRST teams and their families will learn firsthand that speed racing is also based on the application of building and engineering fast-paced machines, offering heart-pounding lessons in innovation.”

FIRST: A Sport for the Mind

FIRST and NASCAR offer similar experiences during their competition seasons. Just as pro drivers roar into NASCAR pits for split-second engineering performance adjustments, student participants in the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) race into their pits to adjust their robots and quickly return to the competition floor during FIRST events. Both NASCAR and FIRST also offer timed challenges in which the strategic engineering of a machine by innovative minds often decides the final winning outcome.

Biffle’s awareness efforts at the NASCAR event will underscore a long-standing collaboration that 3M and FIRST have based on a common goal: to inspire young, innovative and creative minds to explore science and technology via hands-on robotics challenges.

As a valued Sponsor of FIRST for over a decade, 3M supports STEM opportunities for young people via a variety of initiatives, including cash donations and the time and talent of 3M employees who coach and mentor FIRST teams.

“3M’s efforts and sponsorship have allowed thousands of kids the opportunity for exhilarating experiences solving real-world engineering challenges, which often leads to the pursuit of promising careers,” said Don Bossi, President of FIRST.

An independent study of FIRST participants conducted by Brandeis University revealed that they are more than three times as likely to major specifically in engineering and about ten times as likely to have had an apprenticeship or co-op job in their freshman year of college.

“As a science-based, diversified technology company, 3M is committed to supporting STEM initiatives that will inspire and support the next generation of innovators,” said Kim Price, Vice President of 3M Community Affairs and the 3M Foundation. “As students head back to school, it’s the ideal time to encourage them to explore innovation by participating in FIRST programs. That’s why we are so pleased to showcase FIRST on the No. 16 Ford Fusion driven by our wonderful driver, Greg Biffle.”

About FIRST® and A Progression of Programs

FIRST was founded by inventor and social entrepreneur Dean Kamen more than 20 years ago with a high school-level engineering challenge called the FIRST Robotics Competition. Today, FIRST offers kids in grades K-12 a variety of engineering challenges via a Progression of Programs. Working alongside adult Coaches and Mentors, kids design, build and program robots, while learning how to create innovative solutions to real-world problems.

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, 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.

Additionally, FIRST is the only not-for-profit that offers more than $16 million in scholarships to high-school participants. For more information, visit www.usfirst.org/scholarships.

About 3M Community Giving

3M is not only a company that creates; it is a company that cares. 3M Community Giving is helping to improve lives in communities around the world. Celebrating 60 years of formalized giving, 3M and the 3M Foundation have invested more than $1.2 billion in cash and products to education and charitable organizations. These donations were bolstered by thousands of employee and retiree volunteers. In 2012, 3M awarded $56.6 million to non-profit organizations. For more information, visit www.3Mgiving.com and follow on Twitter @3Mgiving.

About 3M

3M captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of ingenious products. Our culture of creative collaboration inspires a never-ending stream of powerful technologies that make life better. 3M is the innovation company that never stops inventing. With $30 billion in sales, 3M employs 88,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.3M.com or follow @3MNews on Twitter.

FIRST® and the FIRST® logo are registered trademarks of the United States Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). LEGO® is registered trademark of the LEGO Group. FIRST® LEGO® League and FLL® are jointly held trademarks of FIRST and the LEGO Group. ©2013 FIRST. All rights reserved.

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