FIRST Announces New Executive Advisory Board Members

Three long-time FIRST supporters add depth and resources to Executive Advisory Board

MANCHESTER, N.H., October 27, 2014FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international not-for-profit K-12 organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, today announced the appointment of three dedicated FIRST supporters to the FIRST Executive Advisory Board (EAB).

New board members include Gail Alpert, president FIRST in Michigan; Kevin Ross, founder of Washington FIRST Robotics; and Robert Sobolewski, president and chief executive officer of ebm-papst Inc.

“Individually, their experience is quite impressive. Combined, these three new members offer knowledge and resources to FIRST that is unmatched,” said Woodie Flowers, co-chairman of the FIRST Executive Advisory Board and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Since they know the FIRST community well, Gail, Kevin, and Robert are poised to hit the ground running.”

The FIRST Executive Advisory Board is made up of a cross-section of individuals from business, industry, academia, and sciences whose role it is to provide advice, work on special projects, and interact directly with FIRST staff and the Board of Directors.

FIRST is very fortunate to add Gail, Kevin, and Robert to the Executive Advisory Board,” said FIRST President Donald E. Bossi. “Gail’s leadership at FIRST in Michigan will allow her to provide priceless insight into our community. The real world knowledge Kevin gained as an engineer for Microsoft and his passion for FIRST makes him a valuable asset. And as an industry insider who is well versed in FIRST and recognized for educational program support, Robert is sure to make a big impact on the Board.”

New appointments to the FIRST EAB include:

Gail Alpert is president of FIRST in Michigan, which is tasked with running the FIRST family of programs in Michigan. She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in business administration, holds a law degree from the University of Detroit, and has sold residential real estate for over 35 years. Alpert got involved with FIRST in 1999 when her son asked her to run a FIRST Robotics Competition team in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Kevin Ross is a former senior design engineer at Microsoft. In retirement, Ross spent time as a consulting engineer, investor, and president of the Seattle Robotics Society. A FIRST Robotics Competition Mentor since 2000, Ross founded Washington FIRST Robotics in 2002. In his role of Pacific Northwest District chair, he leads a group of over 2,100 FIRST Volunteers. In 2013, he received the "Distinguished Service" Alumni Award from the University of Washington College of Engineering. Ross is also member of the Founders’ Circle for the Microsoft Alumni Foundation.

Robert Sobolewski is president and chief executive officer of ebm-pabst Inc. – a FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Crown Supplier – based in Farmington, Conn. He is a member of various community and industry trade organizations and associations, and has been recognized for his support of educational programs, especially those that bring schools and the workplace closer together. A graduate of Fairfield University, Sobolewski serves as president and chairman of ingenuityNE and the FRC partner in New England (NE FIRST). He’s also a member of the Fairfield University School of Engineering EAB, a director of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, and director of Okay Industries, Inc.

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 $20 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

Media Contact:

Brooke Blew, FIRST
Ph. 603-666-2248