I agree FIRST is an awesome program. I have been involved in FIRST for many years as a mentor, judge, field supervisor etc. The program teaches team work (and other soft skills), engineering, and shop skills. I would encourage the SAMPE community to get involved. The kids need to learn more about advanced materials such as composites. We can be those local engineering role models.
Dean Kamen the founder of FIRST states Robotics is the only sport where everyone can go pro! Here is a great article he posted.