Tim Cook Joins FIRST® Founder Dean Kamen and Student Robotics Teams to Advance STEM Education for Youth

Youth-Serving STEM Education Nonprofit FIRST, a Robotics Community that Prepares Young People for the Future, along with Event Chairs Dean Kamen,, Zem Joaquin, and Marc Hodosh, Hosts Sixth Annual FIRST Inspire Gala to Make STEM Education Programs More Widely Available to Students Throughout the World


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF., November 16, 2022 – FIRST®, a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, and its host committee gathered the nation’s most passionate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education supporters at the 2022 FIRST Inspire Gala on November 15. The event was hosted on San Francisco Pier 15 and included uplifting words from Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple, who was the night’s guest of honor. 

The evening, which was filled with inspiration, celebration, and hands-on STEM experiences, was chaired by leaders in STEM education and industry:

  • Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST
  •, musician, tech entrepreneur, and philanthropist
  • Zem Joaquin, Founder & CEO, Near Future
  • Marc Hodosh, Founder & Co-Host, LIFE ITSELF

Guest of honor, Cook, has been a longtime champion of early STEM education and coding. Apple has supported FIRST since 2015, helping to create hands-on learning opportunities for students around the world.

In addressing the crowd of FIRST supporters and students, Cook said: “FIRST creates a space where technology and creativity intersect — and demonstrates just how powerful it is to bring those components together. You do that for the students in this room, and for hundreds of thousands around the world. And we’re all here tonight because we recognize how important this work is.”

Other notable guests included students from FIRST teams:

  • FIRST® Robotics Competition Team 6884, “Deep Space,” from Hollister, Calif.
  • FIRST Robotics Competition Team 7413, “Plus Ultra,” from Marina, Calif.
  • FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge Team 40238, “Plus Ultra,” from Marina, Calif.
  • FIRST Robotics Competition Team 7777, “Septobots” from Greenfield, Calif.

As reported in a recent survey, 77% of kids say they would turn to a parent, schoolteacher, or school counselor for advice about joining an extracurricular activity – reinforcing the belief that the mentors in young people’s lives can have an impact in encouraging an early interest in STEM. Doing so has proven to encourage self-confidence and pursuit of education and careers in STEM-related fields. 

“We’ve come together at this gala because we know the future of our world is in the hands of young people, like the bright FIRST students who are here tonight,” said Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST. “We want every kid to know that they have the power to shape the future. Being involved in STEM programs like FIRST improves kids’ self-esteem. It helps them build the confidence to realize they can make real change in their own lives and in the lives of others. Unfortunately, 30% of kids don’t feel ‘smart enough’ to join a STEM program like ours. We’re all here because we believe all students deserve the chance to realize they ARE smart enough to join. They’re smart enough to build robots and be a part of a team. They’re smart enough to innovate. We want them to know that when they believe in themselves, it is life changing.”


The gala raised funding to support the FIRST mission and the inspiration of young minds. Proceeds go toward making FIRST programs more widely available to students all over the world, especially underserved and underrepresented populations. If you are interested in learning more, or donating to FIRSTplease visit 


About FIRST®

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 after-school 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