About Us

FIRST Nevada is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization promoting FIRST ® robotics programs and STEAM education initiatives in Nevada.


Our Mission

To inspire young people to become science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. 

FIRST Values

Gracious Professionalism®

Emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.

With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.  In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life.  One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.

Coopertition®

Coopertition® produces innovation. At FIRST, Coopertition is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete.

Coopertition involves learning from teammates. It is teaching teammates. It is learning from Mentors. And it is managing and being managed. Coopertition means always competing, but assisting and enabling others when you can.

FIRST is committed to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future. A vital part of our strategic intent is to serve an inclusive and diverse audience, reflecting the population of the communities we serve—and even going beyond through targeted, new community outreach.

FIRST understands the broader societal context of economic, educational, and social factors historically leading to disproportionate access and outcomes. Leveraging cross-sector and industry collaborations, FIRST is actively engaged in developing and delivering strategies that remove barriers and ensure greater access to FIRST programs so that all youth can participate.  To learn more visit https://www.firstinspires.org/about/diversityinclusion

 

Board Of Directors

FIRST Nevada was founded in 2005 and represents Nevada statewide. Our all-volunteer Board of Directors is comprised of engineers, educators, and business leaders who live and work in Nevada.

Gloria Jean Hoppert, P.E.

Jean Hoppert was a Technical Director at Masterfoods USA, before retiring in October 2003. Her experiences include 34 years in manufacturing and engineering with three differ…

Dr. Paul R. Dixon

For the past 28 years, Dr. Dixon performed research and has been a technical manager in a variety of energy, non-proliferation and environmental pro…

Stacey Duffy

A lifelong resident of Nevada, Stacey currently holds the position of Deputy Director of Finance & Accounting/ Deputy Chief Financial Officer at Mission Support and Test …

Kate Timmers

Kate graduated from Indiana University with a BS in Business and minor in Psychology. Relocating to Denver, CO after school, she began her career in marketing for Stanley Bla…

Kimberly Womack

Kimberly Womack is an Information Assurance Manager with the Department of Air Force in Las Vegas, NV. An alumnus of University of Ne…

Dr. Dee Frewert

Dee Frewert is passionate about technology innovation and social entrepreneurship in education. She is a strategic customer success e…

Calum Pearson

Calum is the General Manager / EVP for Illuminarium Experiences, the world leading, vibrant provider of live immersive multi-media shows from visionaries Alan Greenburg and C…

Dr. Sheldon H. Freid

Shelly has his BS from Brooklyn College, an MS in Radio-Chemistry from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Chemistry from Florida State University. He spent 7 years at O…

Major General Garrett Harencak

As President of Mission Support and Test Services LLC (MSTS), Garrett Harencak provides leadership and management direction for the effective and efficient execution of opera…

Ben Nguyen

In growing deep roots here in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ben Nguyen works diligently towards the advancement of humanity through implementing technology applications, establishing ef…

Matt Knop

Matt is the Las Vegas Mapping Lead Engineer with the autonomous vehicle development company Motional.  He is an alumnus of Northern AZ University and the University of Utah a…

Joshua Langdon

In 2007, Josh Langdon began his career in Energy Supply with NV Energy. He has held several positions in the Corporate Engineering Support Department. In this capacity he pro…

Kevin Kassekert

Kevin is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Redwood Materials, which is a battery materials manufacturing company based in Northern Nevada, which recycles end of life Li-IO…

Alise Porto

Alise Porto joined Switch, a global data center and sustainability leader, in 2015 and has held several key senior management roles. Currently, Alise serves as the Vice Presi…

Gloria Jean Hoppert, P.E.

Jean Hoppert was a Technical Director at Masterfoods USA, before retiring in October 2003. Her experiences include 34 years in manufacturing and engineering with three different companies in seven different locations with extensive experience with new product startups. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Master in Business Administration from Xavier in Cincinnati. 

Jean also holds Professional Engineer registration in Nevada, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Jean is a fellow of the Society of Women Engineers, and is a member of the SWE Las Vegas Valley Section. In 2005, Jean started FIRST Nevada to promote STEAM programs in Las Vegas and Nevada and currently serves on the Board. Her current volunteer work focuses on providing the FIRST and STEAM programs for Nevada.

Dr. Paul R. Dixon

For the past 28 years, Dr. Dixon performed research and has been a technical manager in a variety of energy, non-proliferation and environmental programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. During his career at Los Alamos, some of Dr. Dixon’s key research efforts have included the development of atom-level chemical separation techniques for Pu, Tc, Np, U and I from organic and inorganic materials, natural analog studies for nuclear wastes disposal and non-proliferation research for the IAEA. Dr. Dixon was the natural science technical manager on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal project from 1997 to 2009. He is currently Deputy Director n the Civilian Nuclear Program Office at Los Alamos National Laboratory where leads the Advanced Simulation Capability for Environmental Management Program for US Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, serves as on the advisory team to the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management Technology Development Office on the robotics and test bed developmental activities, is a core member of the Environmental Management National Laboratory Network, oversees the LANL work supporting the Hanford tanks disposition and closure and is the science advisor to the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission on nuclear waste disposal. Dr. Dixon is a member of the American Chemical Society and American Nuclear Society, and he currently serves as the chairman of Clark County Nevada Wildlife Advisory Board. Dr. Dixon has been involved in FIRST FRC robotics for 11 years as a judge for the Las Vegas and Orlando Regional events, and he currently serves as the Judge Advisor Las Vegas Regional. Dr. Dixon holds a Bachelors of Arts degrees in geology and chemistry from Albion College, and both a masters and doctorate degree in geochemistry from Yale University.

Stacey Duffy

A lifelong resident of Nevada, Stacey currently holds the position of Deputy Director of Finance & Accounting/ Deputy Chief Financial Officer at Mission Support and Test Services. In her current role, Stacey provides financial leadership to the organization while enabling mission operations at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).  Beginning her career as a college intern, she has spent over 17 years working on the NNSS contract and has held various leadership roles in Finance, Accounting and Project Management.

Stacey holds a Bachelor of Science Business Administration, Accounting from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Master of Science in Accounting from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She also holds a Project Management Professional certification and is a member of the local chapter of Project Management Institute. Over the past five years, Stacey has been integral in establishing a partnership between the UNLV Lee Business School and MSTS, and has been successful in establishing numerous student internship opportunities and mentoring partnerships between the organizations. Stacey and her husband currently live in Las Vegas and have four daughters.

Kate Timmers

Kate graduated from Indiana University with a BS in Business and minor in Psychology. Relocating to Denver, CO after school, she began her career in marketing for Stanley Black & Decker. Over the next 15 years she held various roles including Territory Manager in sales, Field Training Coordinator for the woodworking product line and most recently the Service Operations Manager for the factory owned service center here in Las Vegas. Recognized for her leadership and mentoring skills, Kate served on several operational and marketing committees and is a two-time recipient of the Eagle Award, one of the corporation’s most distinguished awards. This summer Kate left SB&D and became the Operations Manager for her family’s business allowing her more time for volunteer work and travel.

Kimberly Womack

Kimberly Womack is an Information Assurance Manager with the Department of Air Force in Las Vegas, NV. An alumnus of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she holds a Master of Science in Computer Science with a focus in Information security. She is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), and Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She has been the on the board for FIRST Nevada Board of Directors as Treasurer for over 4 years. She previously held positions as Treasurer for local chapters of FEW (Federally Employed Women) and SWE (Society of Women Engineers). She focuses her time in STEM and other outreach in the community and has been active with FIRST for the over 8 years as either Judge or Judge Advisor at FLL, FTC, FRC or World Competitions.

Dr. Dee Frewert

Dee Frewert is passionate about technology innovation and social entrepreneurship in education. She is a strategic customer success executive at Oracle Corporation. Her community and education activities heavily leverages her field and implementation experience supporting Fortune 100 companies. Frewert received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, one of a few women who graduated from the Industrial Distribution Management program. Seeing a greater need to drive education excellence, she received her Master’s degree in Education in Technology from Lesley University, and her Education doctorate in leadership, management and human resources at Drexel University. She actively supports youth in an array of educational programs and also chairs the Western Nevada College Computer-IT Advisory Board. It is no surprise that Dee Frewert’s background in business and technology has translated to supporting her community through STEM educational programs. Passionate about giving back and bettering her community, her work with not-for-profit organizations has brought her noteworthy success. She has created sustainable programs such as A Cubed (A3), a youth STEM education program that earned her a national VOYA (ING) Unsung Heroes award, and partnered with UC Davis to establish the Youth Science Institute (YSI) program at TERC. She brought the international FIRST Robotics programs to northern Nevada to enable nearly a thousand local students to immerse themselves in academic and competitive challenges each year. The Girl Scouts recognized her in the 2014 Triumphant Awards for her leadership in STEM. She is ardent about creating life-changing opportunities for youth and developing lasting partnerships with companies and organizations. An active member of the Society of Women Engineers, Partners for Community, Optimist International and the Experimental Aircraft Association, she has delivered numerous STEM programs involving K-12 robotics, aviation, aerospace, environmental science, and supported student leadership projects and student mentor programs at UNR and across northern Nevada. She was on Microsoft’s International Women’s Day 2015 Panel; and most recently, she received the 2016 Las Vegas FRC Volunteer of the Year Award.

Calum Pearson

Calum is the General Manager / EVP for Illuminarium Experiences, the world leading, vibrant provider of live immersive multi-media shows from visionaries Alan Greenburg and Chris Renaud, partnered with Radical Media and the Rockwell Group. The desire to create a VR style experience that can be shared without the use of isolating headsets, led this small group of disruptors to build several permanent venues across the US, while Calum is poised to lead a new division within the company to bring these sought after experiences on tour around the world.

Calum previously helmed operations for Cirque du Soleil’s resident shows worldwide for 15 years. Most recently as Vice President of Operations, managing all theatre shows for the company across the US as well as international productions in Japan, Macau Madrid and Moscow. With over 30 years of operations and management experience in the entertainment industry, Calum brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership skills to the best in live entertainment.

Prior to joining Cirque du Soleil, Calum spent 16 years touring with well known music productions including Bon Jovi and Van Halen, and family acts such as Disney on Ice. He progressed his responsibilities over the years from Lead Rigger, to Technical Director and Company Manager.

Calum, a native of England, and his wife Cory, have two teenage sons and live in Las Vegas.

Dr. Sheldon H. Freid

Shelly has his BS from Brooklyn College, an MS in Radio-Chemistry from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Chemistry from Florida State University. He spent 7 years at Oak Ridge National Lab in the Reactor Safety Division and 33 years with Bechtel Corporation serving in several positions including Engineering Manager and Chief Nuclear and Mechanical Engineer for the Los Angeles Division. Among his activities was direct involvement in the design and startup of 3 nuclear power stations as well as fossil plant rehabilitation work in India and Bulgaria. He came to Las Vegas 23 years ago with Bechtel to work as a Technical manager on the Nevada Test Site contract. He joined National Security Technologies when they took over the contract and retired as a Senior Laboratory Fellow for their Remote Sensing Lab. He then became a Senior Strategic Advisor to the Global Security Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for two years. He has been involved with FIRST Nevada for the past 15 years.

Major General Garrett Harencak

As President of Mission Support and Test Services LLC (MSTS), Garrett Harencak provides leadership and management direction for the effective and efficient execution of operations at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and leads development of a visionary and executable strategic plan. Prior to joining MSTS in 2022, Harencak was the Vice President of Strategic Defense Programs and Deputy Program Manager of the Missile Defense Agency Integrated Research and Development for Enterprise Solutions contract at Jacobs Engineering. Under his leadership, Harencak’s team developed and communicated the vision for safe, secure, environmentally and fiscally sound contract execution with full authority and accountability to manage and integrate all contractual, financial and technical performance. Before joining Jacobs, Harencak served in the U.S. Air Force for more than 39 years and rose to the rank of Major General. Positions he held include Commander, USAF Recruiting Command; Assistant Chief of Staff, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration; Commander, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Kirtland Air Force Base; Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application, National Nuclear Security Administration; and Commander, 509th Bomber Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base. Harencak holds a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a master’s degree in management from Abilene Christian University, and a master’s degree in national security studies from the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base. He is an Adjunct Professor of Nuclear Deterrence and Assurance for the Air Force Nuclear College at the Air Force Institute of Technology and a member of the Board of Regents, Strategic Deterrent Coalition, Washington, D.C.

Ben Nguyen

In growing deep roots here in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ben Nguyen works diligently towards the advancement of humanity through implementing technology applications, establishing efficient educational systems, and elevating sustainable approaches towards the challenges of modern life. In his youth, he dreamed of a world where humankind and machine worked in harmony to alleviate the suffering of existence in a planet of depleting resources, inconsistent willpower from forces of power, and cryptic financial systems exercising dominion over genuine progress. Acting on his beliefs, Ben currently serves his community as a teacher for the Clark County School District (CCSD) in Career and Technical Education (CTE) where he currently teaches Automation Technology, Manufacturing Technology, and STEM Robotics. In addition to teaching, Ben also works as a Developer for GRADD, a local technology company based in Las Vegas focusing on technology solutions for a wide range of industries driven by data. He received a Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth
College in Anthropology with a Minor in Human Development and Education and later received a Master’s Degree in Secondary Science Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Ben loves to learn, and he continues to advance his life’s interests across many disciplines through participation in online learning courses, a voracious reading habit, and a passion for tinkering. While the recipient of a range of awards for his work in education and technology, Ben focuses his attention mainly on cultivating his technology skill set, improving his teaching practice, and volunteering his time for the causes he believes in. Recently, he was a recipient of the 2019-2020 Milken Educator Award alongside 39 other recipients from across the United States.  Joining this elite group of educators, administrators, and trail blazers in education has given him a tremendous responsibility and opportunity to continue to further his work in bringing excellence to his endeavors in Nevada and beyond.”

Matt Knop

Matt is the Las Vegas Mapping Lead Engineer with the autonomous vehicle development company Motional.  He is an alumnus of Northern AZ University and the University of Utah and was an adjunct professor with the Nevada System of Higher Education for 10 years.  His experience includes 25+ years of continuously evolving experience providing technical and managerial support to a wide range of environmental and engineering projects. He has been involved with FIRST NV for over 8 years.

Joshua Langdon

In 2007, Josh Langdon began his career in Energy Supply with NV Energy. He has held several positions in the Corporate Engineering Support Department. In this capacity he provided engineering, construction, and commissioning support primarily for electrical apparatus upgrades and retrofits. He also provided operations, maintenance, inspection and testing support for NV Energy’s generation fleet.

Beginning in 2012, Mr. Langdon held several Energy Supply leadership positions ranging from Plant Engineering to Operation and Maintenance Manager. In these capacities Mr. Langdon was responsible for safe, reliable, and compliant day to day operations and maintenance as well as leading long term strategic planning and capital investments. As a Plant Director Mr. Langdon focused on optimizing plant operations and maintenance to meet the growing demand for a flexible operating profile which included both daily cycling and seasonal operations. These endeavors focused on supporting the energy transitions and integration of a growing renewable energy supply.

In 2019, Mr. Langdon transitioned from Energy Supply to Energy Delivery as the Director of Grid Operations and Reliability ensuring continued safe, reliable, and compliant operations of NV Energy’s Transmission and Distribution systems. Currently Mr. Langdon is the Vice President of Transmission focused on optimizing grid operations to ensure a successful integration of electrification and transition to net zero energy supply.

Mr. Langdon earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Mr. Langdon is a registered professional engineer in the state of Nevada. Mr. Langdon is currently the chair of NV Energy’s political action committee and serves as a committee member on the NV Energy Risk Committee, NV Energy Foundation and the Berkshire Hathaway grant advisory committee. Lastly, I’m an active member on NV Energy DEI working group and a founding member of a Berkshire Hathaway Energy API focused employee resource group

Kevin Kassekert

Kevin is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Redwood Materials, which is a battery materials manufacturing company based in Northern Nevada, which recycles end of life Li-ION batteries and yield loss from battery manufacturing lines and creates a fully sustainable circular supply chain. Prior to his time at Redwood, Kevin spent 7.5 years at Tesla in various operational and infrastructure growth roles such as VP People & Places and VP Infrastructure Operations. While at Tesla, Kevin led the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) efforts building Gigafactories in Nevada, Shanghai, and Berlin. He also built and operationally ramped the first US Supercharger Network connecting Los Angeles to New York and up and down both the West and East Coasts of the United States. Later he led global Human Resources, Recruiting, Compensation, Benefits, Real Estate, Construction and Facility Operations. Prior to Tesla, Kevin spent 5 years at Silicon Valley Technology Center (SVTC) as VP Operations & Engineering and 8 years at Cypress Semiconductor in Operations, Engineering and Infrastructure expansion roles. He holds a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) from the University of Minnesota and a Masters in Global Business Administration (MBA) from University of Phoenix. He resides in Reno, NV and is blessed to have an amazing family that also focuses on leaving the world a better place for future generations.

Alise Porto

Alise Porto joined Switch, a global data center and sustainability leader, in 2015 and has held several key senior management roles. Currently, Alise serves as the Vice President of Sustainability where she is responsible for overseeing Switch’s environmental, social, and governance initiatives (ESG).  In partnership with the company’s Policy team, Alise is also responsible for implementing sustainable energy and resource management strategies that align with the company’s overall policies and goals of being a global leader in environmental and social sustainability.

In addition, she leads Switch’s energy procurement strategy and energy resources at all locations and various resource management initiatives. She similarly leads the development and execution of special projects associated with business development and innovative sustainable water resource management.

Alise also co-leads the Switch Newsroom team responsible for public relations, corporate communications, and corporate events and represents the company’s interests at the Nevada Legislature.  Additionally, Alise represents Switch on the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) board.

For Alise’s most recent efforts to enhance Switch’s sustainability in digital infrastructure, she was recognized as a recipient of the 2022 WISE (Women in Smart Energy) Award.

She received her degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and completed the University of California Berkeley Sustainable Capitalism & ESG program. She is a native of Nevada loves spending time with her family, coaching her children’s sport’s teams, cooking, and traveling.

Impact data

FIRST invests in evaluation to continuously measure and inform the organization in its effectiveness in reaching its desired outcomes and making data-driven decisions to improve programs. Internal and external studies are conducted to assess impact on youth participants including understanding changes in STEM interest and intent, education achievement, post-high school plans, career intent and outcomes related to 21st century work skills, as a result of participating in FIRST. The infographic below summarizes our program impact.

STEM MAJOR CITED BY FIRST PARTICIPANTS

87%

Plan to take on a more challenging math or science course

As likely to major in science or engineering

2.6X

FIRST alumni are 2.6X as likely to choose an engineering route in college

Major in engineering

3.4X

FIRST women are 3.4X more likely to choose engineering in college

Of women major in engineering

98%

Increased problem solving skills

Improved problem solving skills

90%

FIRST students

21ST CENTURY WORK-LIFE SKILLS GAINED BY FIRST PARTICIPANTS

Over 90% of FIRST students report improving their time management, problem-solving, and leadership skills during our programs – all complementary advantages to technical skills.

87%

FIRST students

SCHOOL ENGAGEMENT INCREASES FOR FIRST PARTICIPANTS

FIRST students are 87% more likely to challenge themselves in STEAM at their high school and over 75% of FIRST alumni choose engineering their first year of college.

FIRST Nevada Contacts



Partners & Program Coordinators

Volunteer Coordinators


Further contact information for FIRST Nevada can be found on our contact page

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