The future is technology and the future is just around the corner with an upcoming event at Cobo Center – the 2019 FIRST®Championship featuring a celebration of space, innovation and STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—inspiration. This is the world’s largest STEM jubilee bringing together thousands of people from around the world who participate in K-12 robotics programs along with educators, industry professionals, sponsors and organizations. 1,300 robots will also be making their journey to Detroit to celebrate young visionaries. An exhilarating “sport for the mind” and a challenge for all ages, participating teams will be charged with this year’s theme; building their own robot.

When it comes to innovation, Israel, is often at the forefront. Former Air Force Commander, Avihu Ben-Nun, founded a technological study program for children to avert the shortage of engineers. Ben-Nun is arriving in Detroit equipped with 20 teams and 200 people including students, mentors, parents and volunteers. In addition, Alon Wolf, of Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, will be accompanying the Israeli team.  Special guests will include, Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and international founder of FIRST Robotics.

FIRST®Championship chose Detroit for its hub of technology, manufacturing, invention and creativity. Dr. Richard and Sally Krugel, longtime Federation and Jewish community lay leaders, chose to meet the competition by giving back with their time and efforts in support of this grand event

JD: What compelled you both to become involved in this robotic championship event?

Sally Krugel: In 1974-75 we were stationed at Maxwell Air Force base in Montgomery, Alabama. Richard (Krugel) served to treat the people on the base who were returning from war injuries. This is where the Air War College is located including the upper echelon of generals and the air force. We were there when the first time an Israeli was invited over. That Israeli was a pilot at the time, Avihu Ben-Nun. We lived on base and so did he and his wife and we became fast friends. Years later, Avihu Ben-Nun became commander of the air force. When he retired, he was in a business conglomerate and one of his portfolios was GM, so he would come to Detroit with the Israeli GM affiliate.

RK:Avihu Ben-Nun took this leadership role in Israel because it helps build Israeli technology. The future will be in robotics. GM has a research and development facility in Herzliya, Israel where they are working on autonomous vehicles and research that exceeds the research capabilities of GM here in the U.S.

JD: Why do you feel it is important that Detroit was chosen to host this event this year?

SK: We are so proud of Detroit in its renaissance. Israel’s presence here in Detroit, along with schools from our partnership region, shows how responsive, wonderful and welcoming we are to things going on in Israel and here in Detroit. Our goal is to get people out to the event and give the Israeli kids in Cobo Center our support.

“The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.” -Edward Teller

Detroit is hosting the First Championship International Robotics Competition April 24-27, 2019. For more information, please visit