FIRST Welcomes Grace Wang to Board of Directors

“Grace” Jinliu Wang, President of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, joins leadership of global K-12 STEM organization


grace wang

MANCHESTER, NH, August 30, 2023 -- FIRST®, an international not-for-profit organization with the mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, today announced the election of “Grace” Jinliu Wang, President of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at WPI, to the organization’s Board of Directors.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Grace Wang, a driven STEM leader whose storied career spans engineering research, education, and innovation, to the FIRST Board of Directors,” said Kelly Ortberg, FIRST Board Chairman. “As a leader in project-based learning and purpose-driven research, Dr. Wang’s dedication to education and her desire to do meaningful work in STEM makes her well-poised to help guide the FIRST organization towards even more growth and impact.”

Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder and DEKA Research & Development Corporation President, said, “Dr. Wang’s devotion to STEM education as well as her commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion make her exactly the leader we need to propel FIRST forward. Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a longtime supporter of FIRST and is on the cutting edge of advancing STEM industries in Massachusetts and beyond. Dr. Wang and I both believe in the importance of getting young people excited about STEM learning and increasing their understanding of how STEM impacts the world.”

Wang, who joined WPI in April as its 17th president, brings a wealth of experience in research and development, innovation, materials science, and engineering from leading institutions of higher education, including WPI, The Ohio State University and the State University of New York (SUNY). In addition to academia, Wang has successfully parlayed her engineering background and experience into serving in leadership roles with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and federal government committees, including the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee and Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. She began her career with IBM/Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and holds seven U.S. patents. 

“Dr. Wang’s illustrious career coupled with her deep passion for getting youth engaged in STEM learning make her a wonderful, and undoubtedly impactful, addition to our Board of Directors,” said Chris Moore, CEO, FIRST. “She has a long history of advancing inclusivity and helping students thrive. We’re proud to welcome Dr. Wang aboard and look forward to leveraging her expertise in support of many crucial FIRST initiatives.”

"I am truly honored and excited to join the FIRST Board of Directors. WPI has always been deeply committed to fostering a passion for STEM education and innovation among young minds. FIRST shares this vision,” said Wang. “I am thrilled to contribute to an organization that empowers students to explore their creativity, solve complex challenges, and develop the skills that will shape their future and the future of technology. Together, we will continue to inspire the next generation of leaders who will drive progress and positive change in our world.”

The FIRST Board of Directors is comprised of a cross section of leaders from business, government, education, and the sciences that have the fiduciary responsibility to provide strategic direction and organizational oversight for all activities of FIRST. The Board’s Governance Committee periodically reviews candidates to nominate individuals who will bring the most to the organization and Board in terms of experience and expertise to support the longer-term strategic objectives of FIRST. Learn more about FIRST Leadership.

More information about Wang can be found in her bio.


FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. Boosted by a global support system of volunteers, educators, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, build, and showcase their achievements during annual challenges. An international not-for-profit organization founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Participants and alumni of FIRST programs gain access to education and career discovery opportunities, connections to exclusive scholarships and employers, and a place in the FIRST community for life. Learn more at