FIRST Nevada is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization promoting FIRST ® Robotics programs and STEAM education initiatives in Nevada.Contact Us
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 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.
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...
A lifelong resident of Las Vegas, NV., who graduated from Valley High School in 1971, Steve was employed at Bearing Belt Chain Co. Inc. for 37 years until retiring as Preside...
Kimberly Womack is an Information Assurance Manager with the Department of Air Force in Las Vegas, NV. An alumnus of University of Ne...
Dee Frewert is passionate about technology innovation and social entrepreneurship in education. She is a strategic customer success e...
Pam Garfield holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas and is an active member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineer...
Calum is currently the General Manager for Lune Rouge Entertainment, the new and vibrant provider of live immersive multi-media shows from visionary Guy Laliberte, founder of...
John Fountain is the VP/Director of Technology for Hospitality Network at Las Vegas, Nev.-based Cox Business / Hospitality Network (CB/HN), the busi...
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...
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...
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...
Missy Young is the Chief Information Officer at Switch. She relocated to Las Vegas from Huntington Beach to join the company in 2005. As a partner a...
As the President of Mission Support and Test Services, Mark Martinez provides leadership and management direction for the effective and efficient ex...
Clifton Dunford has proven himself to be an industry leader in the diverse field of innovative technology. A brilliant and dedicated engineer, his eclectic work history boast...
In growing deep roots here in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ben Nguyen works diligently towards the advancement of humanity through implementing technology applications, establishing ef...
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 the SWE Las Vegas Valley Section Outreach Chair. In 2005, Jean started FIRST Nevada to promote STEM programs in Las Vegas and Nevada and currently serves as the director. Her current volunteer work focuses on providing the FIRST and STEM programs for Nevada.
A lifelong resident of Las Vegas, NV., who graduated from Valley High School in 1971, Steve was employed at Bearing Belt Chain Co. Inc. for 37 years until retiring as President in 2008. Currently owns S&S Philpott LLC., which is a consulting firm in the use of innovative technologies in distribution of products. Honorary Lifetime Member of the Power Transmission Distributors Association for his service on their board of directors and education foundation. Thirty year member of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, Henderson Chamber of Commerce, Nevada Development Authority and Henderson Development Authority. Currently serves on the Bond Oversight Committee of the Clark County School District, and the board of directors of Nevada STEM Coalition, a non-profit organization focused on promoting science and math with the youth of Nevada.
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.
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.
Pam Garfield holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas and is an active member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Her professional expertise is in the design of pressure vessels and the transportation of hazardous materials. Currently, Pam is the Managing Director of PBG Associates LLC, an engineering design and services firm. She has been active with STEM outreach, special education programs, and FIRST for 11 years, serving in a variety of capacities including coach, mentor, and judge at FLL, FTC, and FRC events. She currently serves as the operational partner for FLL programs in Nevada.
Calum is currently the General Manager for Lune Rouge Entertainment, the new and vibrant provider of live immersive multi-media shows from visionary Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil. Calum helmed operations for Cirque du Soleil’s resident shows worldwide for 14 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 and Moscow. With over 17 years of operations and management experience in the entertainment industry, Calum brought a wealth of knowledge and leadership skills to Cirque du Soleil. 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.
John Fountain is the VP/Director of Technology for Hospitality Network at Las Vegas, Nev.-based Cox Business / Hospitality Network (CB/HN), the business-to-business division of Cox Communications serving business and commercial customers in Southern Nevada, as well as over 110,000 hotel rooms in the resort-gaming-hospitality business vertical across the U.S. In his current position, Fountain oversees the provisioning of advanced video, voice and data services on digital, analog, IP and Wi-Fi platforms to hotel guest rooms, back office and public areas. He has responsibility for 24 employees and manages large-scale annual project budgets. Fountain’s recent projects as lead include the Las Vegas Convention Center, Cashman Center, City Center in Las Vegas, Caesars Palace and soon to open T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for which he was a core member of the contract winning team. He is also heavily involved in the deployment of a Distributive Antenna System at the Las Vegas Convention Center. His career background outside of Cox includes 12 years of software development for embedded and application-level systems, project management for government contractors and management of IP networks. From 1984-1987, Fountain served as an adjunct computer science instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Fountain is listed in the 2006 Top 100 Most Influential People in Cable by CableWorld magazine. He is a past chair of the Visitor’s Board of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) and served on advisory boards in the departments of MIS and Computer Sciences at UNLV. Fountain received the UNLV Distinguished Speaker Award (2006) and was recognized as the UNLV College of Engineering Alumni of the Year (2011). He has been a member of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) since 2000 and president of the Las Vegas-based Red Rock Chapter of SCTE for two terms (2009 and 2010).
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.
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.
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.
Missy Young is the Chief Information Officer at Switch. She relocated to Las Vegas from Huntington Beach to join the company in 2005. As a partner at Switch, she is responsible for all sales and engineering with respect to potential clients, including solution architecture and contract negotiations. Her expertise is centered on helping clients understand the Switch data center technology ecosystem. She leads a phenomenal team of sales engineers and will gladly tell you that she has the best job in the world. Prior to becoming a partner at Switch, Missy was the director of VoIP services for Mpower Communications. Her portfolio of experience also includes senior sales engineering positions at ICG Communications, InteleNet Data Centers, and FirstWorld Communications. Missy is Cisco, Microsoft, and Novell certified, and got her start in the tech field, back in the dot-com days of the mid-90s, as a network engineer. She serves on the Foundation Board of Opportunity Village, the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Research Board, the Desert Research Institute Foundation Board, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
As the President of Mission Support and Test Services, Mark Martinez provides leadership and management direction for the effective and efficient execution of all operations at the Nevada National Security Site and leads development of a visionary and executable strategic plan. Martinez has 30 years of experience managing complex and multidisciplinary nuclear, technical, business, operational and site services. He spent the past 23 years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, most recently leading as Vice President and Principal Associate Director for Operations and Business, working to implement key strategic initiatives and operations and infrastructure improvements. While at LLNL, Martinez gained both programmatic and operational expertise through diverse assignments and developed key relationships with employees and external stakeholders. He was a senior Test Director responsible for executing LLNL experimental activities at the Nevada Test Site which encompassed comprehensive oversight of complex technical, construction, ES&H, quality assurance, security, external communications, and other management functions for large-scale projects. He also served as the Program Leader for the Nuclear Materials Technology Program, the Nevada Experiments and Operations Acting Program Leader, and the Deputy Principal Associate Director in the Weapons & Complex Integration. Martinez has a strong background leading transformations. At LLNL’s Weapons and Complex Integration, he strengthened the rigor and changed the culture to a high-performing team. In addition, NNSA requested Martinez’s leadership in leading improvements in multi-nation nuclear defense experiments in Nevada.
Clifton Dunford has proven himself to be an industry leader in the diverse field of innovative technology. A brilliant and dedicated engineer, his eclectic work history boasts a distinguished career belonging to someone who seeks to break the mold and transcend all expectations. Having 15 years of experience in software engineering, he possesses the vital skills acquired from hands-on experience through working his way up in the industry, taking on both small-scale and larger roles. Despite the breadth of his accomplishments, Clifton has remained humble, considerate, and easy to approach; this diplomatic attitude extends beyond him to the teams he leads, where every bug, question, and meeting is handled with dexterity and dignity. Clifton has always been at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, whether in the military, the gaming industry, or autonomous car system development. Driven to optimize efficiency in his work, he started as an avionics technician in the U.S. Navy before becoming an electronics technician in the civilian workforce. From there, he transitioned into software engineering after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, working for a plethora of companies, including Rockwell Collins (producing flight simulators) and Aristocrat (producing videogames and other forms of entertainment) where he worked for 7 years, becoming the Director of Game Software Development in that time. As the current Engineering Manager for Aptiv, an industry-leading company conducting groundbreaking research on autonomous car technology, he has continued this passionate dedication to making the wonders of technology accessible to everyone. This motivation of accessibility was what drew Clifton to FIRST Nevada, as he seeks to be involved in helping the scientists and engineers of the future to find their passion and pursue their dreams.
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.”
Plan to take on a more challenging math or science course
As likely to major in science or engineering
FIRST alumni are 2.6X as likely to choose an engineering route in college
Major in engineering
FIRST women are 3.4X more likely to choose engineering in college
Of women major in engineering
Increased problem solving skills
Improved problem solving skills
Over 90% of FIRST students report improving their time management, problem-solving, and leadership skills during our programs - all complementary advantages to technical skills.
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 ® LEGO ® League
FIRST ® Tech Challenge
FIRST ® Robotics Competition
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