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November 2, 2011
Inventor and education innovator Dean Kamen is well known for two things: inventing the Segway and founding FIRST Robotics, one of the nation's largest STEM competitions. The program, which requires students to build, program, and complete tasks with a robot, has served more than a million students since he founded it in 1989.
A study by Brandeis University found that students who compete in the competition are much more likely to attend college, major in science or engineering, and have an internship during their freshman year in college than students who didn't compete. The competition has more momentum than ever before, with corporate sponsors ranging from General Motors and Johnson & Johnson to AT&T and Coca-Cola. I spoke with Kamen about FIRST and the challenges the United States must overcome to regain its spot as the world's top innovator.