FIRST Celebrates Student Inventors

FIRST® Celebrates Student Inventors

New Future Innovator Award Presented by the Abbott Fund Recognizes High School Creativity in Solving Complex Engineering Challenges Facing the World Today

MANCHESTER, N.H., January 5, 2012FIRST ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen, announced today that participants on high school FIRST teams in North America can now compete for the chance to win recognition toward patenting a proposed invention in the newly created FIRST® Future Innovator Award presented by the Abbott Fund, the non-profit foundation of the global health care company, Abbott. The award provides FIRST ® Robotics Competition (FRC®) and FIRST ® Tech Challenge (FTC®) participants an opportunity to submit solutions to solve complex engineering challenges facing the world today, similar to the challenges set forth by the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges.

The FIRST Future Innovator Award will be judged by a panel of leading experts in the fields of engineering and patent law, including Dean Kamen, President of DEKA Research & Development Corporation and inventor of the Segway Personal Transporter, and representatives from Abbott and others, to determine the winning idea.

The winner will be announced during the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, Missouri on April 26-28, 2012.  The winning student will be granted an award presented by the Abbott Fund and also will have the opportunity to meet with a venture capital firm for a real-world critique and discussion of their invention and possible business application.

 “The Abbott Fund and FIRST chose to focus this inaugural award on solving complex engineering problems — such as those set forth by the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges — because they are real-world issues that require innovative solutions. I have learned to never underestimate the brilliance of the students at FIRST, and I am sure their solutions to these problems, from restoring and improving our urban infrastructure to providing access to clean water and air, will delight and inspire the panel of judges,” said Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder and President of DEKA Research & Development Corporation, adding, “FIRST thanks the Abbott Fund for bringing to the forefront the kind of issues these kids will face in their own futures, and for joining me in the urgent need to train the next generation of innovators.”

The FIRST Future Innovator Award competition is open to all North American FRC and FTC teams officially registered for the current 2011/2012 FIRST competition season. The portal for student submissions will open in February and the deadline for submissions will be noon, March 16, 2012, Eastern Standard Time. 

“The Abbott Fund is proud to provide this opportunity to the innovative young people who are learning and solving relevant challenges through the exceptional FIRST program,” said Cindy Schwab, vice president, the Abbott Fund, adding, “By highlighting the achievements of these young inventors we hope to foster a better understanding of the importance of science and engineering in our lives.”

FIRST students are encouraged to make their submission as complete and as close to an official patent process as possible, including detailed written descriptions of the invention, photographs, and videos to capture their ideas. There is no limit to the number of submissions a student may make. Students' submissions received by the deadline will then vie to become the overall winner to be announced at the FIRST Championship event in St. Louis.

“Innovation drives our economy and our way of life,” said Jon Dudas, FIRST President and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, adding “FIRST students are natural innovators and inventors. The FIRST Future Innovator Award gives them the same opportunities as other great inventors, including the chance to present their ideas to venture capitalists. The winning idea will benefit from, and have the advantage of, decades of experience from professionals who do this for a living. These folks help bring ideas to life, building careers, building companies and building industries. This is an incredible opportunity for a student today.”

About Abbott and the Abbott Fund

Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs nearly 90,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries. The Abbott Fund is a philanthropic foundation established by Abbott in 1951. The Abbott Fund's mission is to create healthier global communities by investing in creative ideas that promote science, expand access to health care and strengthen communities worldwide. For more information, visit and

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 three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST ® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for high-school students, FIRST®  LEGO® League (FLL®) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST®  LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds. 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 Contacts:
Cheryl Walsh, FIRST
Ph. 603-206-2460