Grainger announced that it is joining forces with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology, as a Gold Supplier of the FIRST Robotics Competition.

"Grainger is committed to supporting technical education and we are pleased to support the FIRST organization and the important skills and experience they bring to the students of today," said Chris Sperry, Vice President, Distribution Operations, Grainger.  

The FIRST Robotics Competition Gold Supplier level designates a contribution between $50,000 and $200,000. Grainger provided safety eyewear, gloves and hinges for the 2009 FRC Kit of Parts which was distributed to more than 1,680 teams of high-school students on January 3, 2009.

"For 18 years, the FIRST organization has been working to create a culture where students not only emulate leaders in science, technology, and engineering, but also realize the potential within them to someday be one of those pioneers," said FIRST president, Paul R. Gudonis. "Grainger is helping to instill those values and beliefs in today's youth. Like FIRST, Grainger aims to excite students about pursuing careers in engineering."

By providing components for the competition, FIRST suppliers are putting the latest technology in the hands of students, giving them the opportunity to apply the same tools used by professional scientists and engineers and ultimately helping them learn real-world skills they will carry into the workplace. The 2009 Kit of Parts contains 604 items, 39% of which are donated.

Since 1992, FIRST has brought the excitement of a sporting event to science and technology via robotics competitions. On January 3, the organization unveiled the annual engineering challenge to teams, who also received a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, and a mix of automation components ˆ but no instructions. Working with mentors, students now have just six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots in preparation for regional events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

More than 42,000 students from 10 countries will design and build robots to compete in regional events with winners advancing to the FIRST Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, April 16-18, 2009. Participating students are eligible to apply for more than $9 million in scholarships offered by leading universities, colleges, and companies.