U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, last week introduced bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that will champion the FIRST Robotics program. Upton and Dingell were joined by original cosponsors, Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Illinois, and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon.
The bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5168, will issue a commemorative coin to honor Christa McAuliffe, the science teacher who tragically perished on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, in recognition of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), which was founded to inspire young people’s interest in science and technology. Funds for the sale of the coin will help support FIRST’s efforts to mentor and foster Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
“FIRST Robotics is one of the premier groups in the country teaching our kids the benefits of science and math education,” said Upton. “Because of these opportunities, these kids will grow up to become inventors, engineers, small business owners, and community leaders of all stripes. It’s vitally important that we continue to encourage this type of innovative learning and team building and I can think of no better way to help support these efforts than by honoring Christa McAuliffe, who inspired a generation of students and teachers to seek out science in order to engineer a better world. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this bipartisan legislation passed.”
“I have witnessed the positive impact FIRST Robotics has had in Michigan for a long time and seen how smart, talented and creative the young people are who participate,” said Dingell. “Students are not only getting hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology, they are graduating at higher rates and are more likely to pursue careers in science and engineering, where they will help tackle some of our most pressing future challenges. We need to encourage this talent and creativity. This coin is a pathway to support these efforts and I am proud to work with Congressman Upton to encourage young people to be at the forefront of innovation and technology.”