MRO Magazine

FIRST® Welcomes Three New Members to Board of Directors

By Business Wire News   


FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international K-12 not-for-profit organization that inspires young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, announced the appointment of three new members to the FIRST Board of Directors. FIRST programs currently serve approximately 400,000 youth, ages 6 to 18, in 80 different countries throughout the world.

The new board members, each of whom leads an organization that has been a valuable supporter and partner of FIRST, include: Dr. Robin N. Coger, dean of the College of Engineering and a professor of Mechanical Engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, N.C.; David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy in Princeton, N.J. and Houston, Texas; and Dr. Laurie Leshin, president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass.

“We are very pleased to add the talent and knowledge of these three respected leaders and executives to our Board,” said Sheri McCoy, co-chair of the FIRST Board of Directors.

“Their diverse expertise in higher education and the energy sector will be invaluable as FIRST expands its efforts to engage more young people with an appreciation of science and technology,” said Bob Tuttle, co-chair of the FIRST Board of Directors.

The FIRST Board is comprised of a cross-section of leaders from business, government, education, industry, and the sciences that have the fiduciary responsibility to provide strategic direction and oversight for all the activities of FIRST internationally. TheGovernance Committee of the FIRST Board of Directors periodically reviews candidates to determine individuals who will bring the most to the organization and the Board in terms of experience and expertise to support the longer-term strategic objectives of FIRST.

New FIRST Board members appointed in 2015 are:

Dr. Robin N. Coger, Dean of the College of Engineering and a professor of Mechanical Engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) in Greensboro, N.C.

Dr. Coger’s focus at North Carolina A&T ranges from advancing the global preparedness of students, highlighting the research of graduate students, to enhancing the innovation climate across the university. Prior to joining A&T’s faculty in 2011, Dr. Coger served as the founder and director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Science and was a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science (MEES) at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Charlotte. Her career at UNC Charlotte spanned over 15 years, where she served as a dedicated educator, researcher, and administrator.

Dr. Coger’s research expertise is in solving design and performance problems related to tissue engineered organs, with special emphasis on liver replacement devices and their safe storage for off-the-shelf availability. Dr. Coger is a fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University serves as the North Carolina Operational Partner for FIRST® LEGO® League and FIRST® Tech Challenge, and manages all state competitions for both programs.

David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy

As CEO of NRG Energy since 2003, David Crane has led the company’s transformation from a regional wholesale generation business to a national, Fortune 250 diversified energy company. NRG is the nation’s largest competitive power generator, with enough generating capacity to power nearly one third of the U.S. population. Crane leads NRG’s efforts in the transition to a clean energy economy through repowering and retrofitting older coal plants, developing carbon capture technology, selling renewable and smart energy retail solutions and building the nation’s largest privately funded network of electric vehicle fast-charging stations. Prior to joining NRG, Crane served as CEO of International Power PLC, a UK-based wholesale power generation company, and previously held positions at Lehman Brothers and ABB Energy Ventures in Sydney, Hong Kong and New York. Under his leadership, NRG was recently named one of the world’s top 100 companies in the NASDAQ OMX CRF Global Sustainability Index for its leadership role in the energy revolution. Mr. Crane was also just named to the Forbes Global 2000 Hall of Fame, honoring five high performing CEO’s of the world’s 2,000 largest companies.

For three years, NRG has supported teams across the FIRST Progression of Programs and the FIRST Championship.

Dr.Laurie Leshin, President, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Dr. Laurie Leshin became the 16th president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in June of 2014. As president, she is committed to elevating WPI’s impact in communities worldwide. Leshin has over 20 years of experience as a leader in academia and government service, and an accomplished record as a space scientist. Prior to joining WPI, Dr. Leshin served as the dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. While at Rensselaer, she continued her work as a scientist for the Mars Curiosity Rover mission and was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Advisory Board for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Previously, Dr. Leshin served as the deputy director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, where she was responsible for oversight of NASA’s future human spaceflight programs and activities.

Leshin was also a professor of Geological Sciences at Arizona State University, where she led the development of the first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary School of Earth and Space Exploration and served as director of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University.

WPI is a 20-year FIRST Scholarship Provider; hosts successful FIRST Robotics Competition tournaments; and has functioned as an Operational Partner for FIRST LEGO League in Massachusetts since 2000. In addition, through the WPI FIRST® Robotics Resource Center, the university works to develop interactive communications tools to help FIRST teams improve performance by accessing and sharing new information and ideas.

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

Cheryl Walsh, 603-666-3907
Brooke Blew, 603-206-2048


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