March 20th, 2009


Students Learn Mechanics and Maturity, Design and Determination From Professional Mentors at Philadelphia FIRST Regional, March 20th and March 21st

PHILADELPHIA, PA– High school students from 8 states and 46 area schools have been tasked with the challenge and excitement of designing and building an original robot in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition ( This week, at the Liacouras Center at 1776 N. Broad Street, six weeks of intense design and construction will culminate in the Drexel University hosted FIRST Robotics Competition Philadelphia Regional, where 55 teams of students and engineering and technical mentors will demonstrate their skill for science, mathematics, and technology. They will compete for honors and recognition that reward design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship, and high-impact partnerships between schools, businesses, and communities.

“We are proud to sponsor this event and we encourage students to participate in FIRST Robotics with anticipation they will advance in the fields of science and technology. It creates both excitement and a challenge for the students while celebrating their role as scientists and engineers,” said Dr. Selcuk Güceri, dean of the College of Engineering.

Over a six-week timeframe, students work with professional mentors to design a robot that solves a problem using a “kit of parts” and a standard set of rules. Once these young inventors create the robot, their teams participate in regional competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.
In this year’s game, “LUNACY™,” robots are designed to pick up 9″ game balls and score them in trailers hitched to their opponents’ robots for points during a 2 minute and 15 second match. Additional points are awarded for scoring a special game ball, the Super Cell, in the opponents’ trailers during the last 20 seconds of the match. “LUNACY” is played on a 54’x27’ low-friction floor, which means teams must contend with the laws of physics.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, Drexel University’s 2007 Engineer of the Year and creator of the Segway Human Transporter (HT), FIRST was created to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools, and their communities. Currently in its seventeenth year, the FIRST Robotics Competition anticipates its largest season ever with over 1,500 teams from every state in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the U.K. competing in 41 regional competitions. More than 1200 students will compete at the Philadelphia Regional to earn a spot at the Championship to be held April 17-19 at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The FIRST Robotics Competition is not just about the design and building of sophisticated robots. These students also develop maturity, professionalism, teamwork, and mentoring skills that enrich their lives,” said Dean Kamen. “Many of our students develop an affinity for their science and math courses, go on to study engineering, technology, or science in college, and also pursue employment opportunities with sponsoring companies.”

This season, participating FIRST students are eligible to apply for over $9.5 million in scholarships from leading universities, colleges, and companies. Scholarship announcements will be made at the FIRST Championship in April.

Since its beginning, FIRST has had a positive impact on students and academic communities. Research has shown that FIRST students’ attitudes about science, math, teamwork, and the working world significantly improved after participating. The students’ self image also improved, particularly in minority groups. In addition, interest in internship and employment opportunities with sponsoring companies increased.

FIRST Robotics Competition Philadelphia Regional sponsors and volunteers come from some of the most highly regarded organizations in the area, including Drexel University, PECO, DuPont, Rohm & Haas, Motorola, and ETC. Sponsors provide resources including time and talent from professional mentors, services, equipment, financial contributions, and volunteers.

About Drexel University’s College of Engineering
Since its founding in 1891, Drexel University’s College of Engineering has emphasized its strengths in engineering, science and technology to train students to become the leaders of the future. The College has the largest undergraduate private engineering program among the nation’s private universities and is Drexel’s flagship school with more than 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students specializing in experiential and global education. For more information on Drexel University’s College of Engineering, please visit

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge for high-school students, the FIRST LEGO® League for children 9-14 years old, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to

Ron Paul: Earmarks Don’t Add Up

March 16th, 2009

Texas Straight Talk - March 16, 2009
A Weekly Column - Rep. Ron Paul (R) - TX 14

Earmarks seem to be the hot topic this week, and as a fiscal conservative I am dismayed so many people deliberately distort the earmarking process and grandstand to make political points. It is an easy thing to do with earmarks. It takes a little more time and patience to grasp the reality of what earmarks really are.

To be sure, if earmarks were the driving force behind explosive government spending as some have been led to believe, that would be a good reason for all the fuss. The misconception seems to be that members of Congress put together a bunch of requests for project funding, add them all together and come up with a budget. The truth is, it is not done that way. The total level of spending is determined by the Congressional leadership and the appropriators before any Member has a chance to offer any amendments. Members’ requests are simply recommendations to allocate parts of that spending for certain items in that members’ district or state. If funds are not designated, they revert to non-designated spending controlled by bureaucrats in the executive branch. In other words, when a designation request makes it into the budget, it subtracts funds out of what is available to the executive branch and bureaucrats in various departments, and targets it for projects that the people and their representatives request in their districts. If a congressman does not submit funding requests for his district the money is simply spent elsewhere. To eliminate all earmarks would be to further consolidate power in the already dominant executive branch and not save a penny.

Furthermore, designating how money is spent provides a level of transparency and accountability over taxpayer dollars that we don’t have with general funds. I argue that all spending should be decided by Congress so that we at least know where the money goes. This has been a major problem with TARP funding. The public and Congress are now trying to find out where all that money went.

The real issue is that the overall budget is too big, by far, which is why I always vote against it. But attacking the 1 percent that was earmarked solves nothing. The whole issue is a distraction from the real problems we face, which are that the Federal Government will absorb over 1/3 of our country’s GDP this year and taxpayers are forced to fork over more than half their income to fund government at all levels. On top of that, the national debt is $11 trillion, which is $36,000 per citizen. The recent increases in bailouts, government spending and money creation is going to hobble our economy for decades. We must curb the government’s appetite severely if this country is ever to thrive again. The noise over “earmarks” is a red herring and a distraction from the real issue of uncommitted spending.

It is time to attack the entirety of government spending. We especially need a full account of the activities of the Federal Reserve that spends and creates trillions of dollars with no meaningful oversight. This is a huge problem that needs immediate attention.

Wake Up World!

March 10th, 2009

The World According to Monsanto - JUST SAY NO!


March 9th, 2009

Texas Straight Talk
A weekly column
Congressman Ron Paul (R) - TX 14
Published 03/09/2009 - 12:42 p.m. EST

Imagine for a moment that somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base, say Chinese or Russian. Imagine that thousands of armed foreign troops were constantly patrolling American streets in military vehicles. Imagine they were here under the auspices of “keeping us safe” or “promoting democracy” or “protecting their strategic interests.”

Imagine that they operated outside of US law, and that the Constitution did not apply to them. Imagine that every now and then they made mistakes or acted on bad information and accidentally killed or terrorized innocent Americans, including women and children, most of the time with little to no repercussions or consequences. Imagine that they set up check points on our soil and routinely searched and ransacked entire neighborhoods of homes. Imagine if Americans were fearful of these foreign troops, and overwhelmingly thought America would be better off without their presence.

Imagine if some Americans were so angry about them being in Texas that they actually joined together to fight them off, in defense of our soil and sovereignty, because leadership in government refused or were unable to do so. Imagine that those Americans were labeled terrorists or insurgents for their defensive actions, and routinely killed, or captured and tortured by the foreign troops on our land. Imagine that the occupiers’ attitude was that if they just killed enough Americans, the resistance would stop, but instead, for every American killed, ten more would take up arms against them, resulting in perpetual bloodshed. Imagine if most of the citizens of the foreign land also wanted these troops to return home. Imagine if they elected a leader who promised to bring them home and put an end to this horror.

Imagine if that leader changed his mind once he took office.

The reality is that our military presence on foreign soil is as offensive to the people that live there as armed Chinese troops would be if they were stationed in Texas. We would not stand for it here, but we have had a globe straddling empire and a very intrusive foreign policy for decades that incites a lot of hatred and resentment towards us.

According to our own CIA, our meddling in the Middle East was the prime motivation for the horrific attacks on 9/11. But instead of re-evaluating our foreign policy, we have simply escalated it. We had a right to go after those responsible for 9/11, to be sure, but why do so many Americans feel as if we have a right to a military presence in some 160 countries when we wouldn’t stand for even one foreign base on our soil, for any reason? These are not embassies, mind you, these are military installations. The new administration is not materially changing anything about this. Shuffling troops around and playing with semantics does not accomplish the goals of the American people, who simply want our men and women to come home. 50,000 troops left behind in Iraq is not conducive to peace any more than 50,000 Russian soldiers would be in the United States.

Shutting down military bases and ceasing to deal with other nations with threats and violence is not isolationism. It is the opposite. Opening ourselves up to friendship, honest trade and diplomacy is the foreign policy of peace and prosperity. It is the only foreign policy that will not bankrupt us in short order, as our current actions most definitely will. I share the disappointment of the American people in the foreign policy rhetoric coming from the administration. The sad thing is, our foreign policy WILL change eventually, as Rome’s did, when all budgetary and monetary tricks to fund it are exhausted.

Daisy Fever Spreading Like a Weed

March 7th, 2009

San Diego, CA — In their first trip to the Western Regional FIRST competition, the robot from Ambler, PA is breaking ground. The Ambler / Wissahickon robot, Miss Daisy, proved to be force to reckon with.

In one of the most exciting sporting events these kids have ever seen, Miss Daisy bloomed advancing through the quarter-finals and onto the semi-finals. The semi-finals looked like they might yank Daisy out by the roots. But, Daisy proved to be a wild flower moving onto the finals.

The Miss Daisy Drivers

The Miss Daisy Drivers

The finals found Miss Daisy pitted against their new friends, the Holy Cows from High Tech High, San Diego. The Holy Cows were gracious enough to arrange for a night on the town the previous evening. The High Tech High team and parents provided transportation and accommodations in Old City San Diego. By the end of the evening, the two teams became close friends. Today at the pre-qualifying matches and into the playoffs, both teams cheered each other on… up to the finals. In the finals, they found themselves on opposing alliances. That didn’t seem to hurt their fondness for each other. After all, of the 48 teams that started, only 6 made it to the finals. The way a FIRST competition works is that three schools work together on a team to form an alliance. So, in any event, Miss Daisy and the Holy Cows were destined to come in either first or second place.

Wissahickon High School, Ambler, PA Miss Daisy Team 341 Robot

Wissahickon High School, Ambler, PA Miss Daisy Team 341 Robot

The first match of the double elimination competition saw Miss Daisy in the lead. Would the Holy Cows provide the fertilizer needed for Miss Daisy to be victorious or would they eat her for lunch?

The noise and excitement of the audience filled the San Diego Sports Arena like static electricity as round two of the finals got under way. Right before the match got under way you could her the two teams wishing each other luck. That is one of the true beauties of FIRST — they teach the students “gracious professionalism” and that was quite evident today.

The tension mounted into what could be the last match of the tournament. The sound reached a fevered pitch. If Miss Daisy won this round, the show would be over. That is exactly what happened. The Wissahickon High School alliance came in first place. In addition, they took home the Best Website Award and the Judge’s Award. (The Judges’ Award is a special award that the Judges may give to a team that stands out. The Miss Daisy team was noted for having supported the Brazilian team. See Robots Drop Their Bolts and Go Nuts.)

A wonderful ending to the event was the Chairman’s Award. The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award bestowed upon a team. At the Western Regional the Chairman’s Award went to Miss Daisy’s new friends, The Holy Cows. It was an exclamation point at the end of splendid event!

The Wissahickon High School's Victory Flag

The Wissahickon High School's Victory Flag

The Complete Series
See Humans At Sea World
Lunacy: Robots In Space
The Best Entertainment Value
Robots Take Over the San Diego Sports Arena
Robots Drop Their Bolts & Go Nuts
What Would You Pay?

What Would You Pay?

March 6th, 2009

San Diego, CA — What would you pay for an experience like this? Kids from all over the place have landed at the San Diego Sports Arena to do battle with robots. The FIRST Organization offers students a unique opportunity. Plenty of parents would pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for the chance that their children could participate in such a program. One of the beauties of FIRST is you do not have to be born with a silver spoon in mouth. Any child can participate. It’s not just for the elite. And, it gives you the chance to rise up and be the cream of the crop.

First of all, you get to build a robot. How many schools still have gymnastics teams? How many schools still offer driver education programs where the students actually get to drive? The fact is — fewer and fewer schools offer programs that are impacted by liability insurance. FIRST is a pleasant exception. Kids to get work in sophisticated machine shops, drilling aluminum, sawing steel, soldering, welding and riveting. At the same time, they are taught the importance of safety. That’s what makes it possible. That and the adult mentors that bring real-world experience into the schools. In fact, NASA has a mobile machine shop on site at the arena with their own crew of mentors. Wow!

Kids in the Pits Working on Robots

Kids in the Pits Working on Robots

That’s just the beginning. Here at the Western Regional competition in San Diego a student traveling from Pennsylvania is a fine example of some of the other possibilities FIRST has to offer. This particular student is part of the build team that works in the pits and with the machine shop. She also was an ambassador. Ambassadors are students that help promote the sport of robotics to people of all ages. They take elementary school visitors down into the pits for a close-up experience with the robots, as well as, taking adult VIPs on tours. An Admiral from the Navy, the Mayor of the city and CEO s from some of the largest corporations get an interact one-on-one with the ambassadors. How many kids get this kind of career exposure?

Who knows what other possibilities will present themselves at a FIRST event. Today, the student from Pennsylvania finished touring the VIPs and then was interviewed for fifteen minutes on the radio. TV stations were filming and writers were writing about her. How many kids get opportunities like this? How much would a parent pay for such a chance?

Should you get a chance to thank Dean Kamen, the sponsors, the mentors or the students, it would be worth your while. Just consider the wealth of their investment in our future?

Dean Kamen In San Diego, CA

Dean Kamen In San Diego, CA

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FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

Lunacy: Robots In Space
Robots Take Over the San Diego Sports Arena
Robots Drop Their Bolts & Go Nuts

Local employee of Henkels and McCoy receives international award

March 6th, 2009

Henkels & McCoy, Inc., headquartered in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce the selection of William H. Boell as a 2009 inductee into The International Lineman’s Museum and Hall of Fame. Boell, of Maple Glen, joined Henkels & McCoy in 1958 as an apprentice lineman, rising through the ranks to his present position of Senior Vice President of Power Operations.

The International Lineman’s Museum in Shelby, North Carolina was created to preserve the history of linemen and the electrical utility industry. A formal Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held March 21, 2009 in Austin, Texas.

Robots Drop Their Bolts & Go Nuts

March 6th, 2009

San Diego, CA — The first day of the FIRST Western Regional competition got under way this morning at the San Diego Sports Arena. But, it wasn’t without some tense moments late into last evening. The two teams traveling the furthest distance, the Brazilian team and the Wissahickon, PA team, had to overcome any feelings or rivalry after some unusual circumstances took control over the Brazilian robot.

Team Brazil was expecting a well oiled machine to great them at the stadium. However, upon arrival, it was discovered that their robot was shipped to the wrong state. When it arrived in Memphis, TN, it dumbfounded customs and was quarantined. Having traveled such a great distance, it looked like Team Brazil was going to be shut out.

Team Brazil

Team Brazil

However, FIRST robotic’s motto, Gracious Professionalism, came to the rescue. Despite troubles preparing their own robot, the team from Pennsylvania dropped their own bolts and went nuts. Scavenging parts from throughout the pits, the two teams worked to the last minute assembling a robot. Right before the final buzzer, the teams got the robot approved for competition.

When queried about performing such a feat, Wissahickon team member Chris Brouse said, “I’m getting use to it. This is not the first time this sort-of thing has happened with a team from Brazil. A couple years ago we were at a competition when the team from Brazil arrived under the assumption they were suppose to build their robot on-the-spot. We worked into the night then, too.”

The karma of gracious professionalism seems to be coming back to kiss them in the bot. Late into the preliminary rounds, the Wissahickon team is in first place.

If you ever want to see intense innovation and intellect, experience how intense a FIRST robotics event can be. Come and check it out. It’s free of charge and sure to charge you up.

Robots Take Over the San Diego Sports Arena

March 6th, 2009

San Diego, CA — Q: How can a bunch of kids take over the San Diego Sports Arena? A: With robots.

How can these kids gain the knowledge and money necessary to build robots… real robots? The FIRST Robotics foundation is the vision of world renowned inventor, Dean Kamen. Though Mr. Kamen has donated a huge amount of time and money, it is with the help of other corporate sponsors and mentors that the organization has been able to flower. In fact, at this years Western Regional competition, the robot named “Miss Daisy” was able to travel from Pennsylvania to Southern California due to the gracious professionalism of the sponsors and mentors. (Gracious professionalism is one of the principles the organization is built upon — teaching the students how to be more than just good sports.)

The Western Regional competition has several corporate sponsors that include BAE Systems and Motorola. Unfortunately for many of the schools, the current economic environment has brought about a huge decline in corporate sponsors. When asked about sponsorship, Steve Stark of the Motorola Corporation said, “The sponsors are important but it’s the mentors that really make FIRST special.” Mentors are volunteer adults that help the teams build and grow. “The mentors get to work with the kids and show them about the real world. One of the key points of FIRST are these mentors. They help educate the students about the big picture, how to make a plan, reach out to the community, get funding and build a working robot. The mentors are often adults experienced in the corporate world. People that work in fields, such as, engineering, mathematics and the sciences are hands-on with the children.”

Motorola has a Philanthropy Division that helps to fund school teams and regional competitions. Without this type of corporate stewardship, these types of programs would not be possible.

One of the teams at the Western Regional is Team 2599 the Alternative Education School of Chula Vista, CA. The school is made up of students that often have not been accepted by the traditional education system. In addition, the students usually do not have the financial support necessary to excel. FIRST robotics has helped change the life of the kids in the community. Stefania Mendizabal is a senior from Chula Vista. She said, “FIRST inspires. Our sponsors, Qualcomm, Boeing, AT&T, Best Buy, Olive Garden, The Home Depot You Auto Know, Albertsons, Goodrich, Dixieline, BAE Systems, WalMart, Vons and Dynegy have help make our team possible. Dynegy has been unbelievable. They sent out mentors to work with us.” Though it’s Stefania’s first year in FIRST, the experience has been life changing. Now, she is considering continued education and a career as an engineer, scientist or in public relations. Public relations might just be her calling. Today she pursued the job of ambassador. An ambassador at a FIRST event meets with potential sponsors, government officials and other VIPs to promote support for the FIRST organization. She also hopes to meet with teachers and students from elementary schools that will be attending the event to help spread her enthusiasm.

Dennis Jenks, the FIRST Engineering Technical Coordinator for Land and Armaments from BAE Systems, has been involved with FIRST for eleven years. Speaking with him for just a moment reveals his vigor for robotics. Because of Mr. Jenks security clearance, he was not able to discuss the details of how FIRST has impacted his own career. Fortunately, he was able to provide a living example of a completed FIRST cycle.

Mr. Jenks met Travis at the beginning of his robotics experience. Their paths crossed many time over the years. Travis joined a robotics team in high school. After graduating, he moved away to college. Life just was not the same with a robotics team. He became closer friends with a student that had been on another robotics team in high school. They both were interested in being mentors for a robotics team. The problem — there was no local high school with a team. The solution — find a school and start a team. That is exactly what they did. This caused Travis’s and Mr. Jenks paths to criss and cross some more.

Upon graduating from college, Mr. Jenks was influential in Travis being hired by BEA Systems. “Travis’s involvement in FIRST robotics was definitely a major factor in my interest in bringing him on board with BAE.”

What are a child’s chances of a prosperous career from joining the high school football team or basketball team? On the other hand, FIRST robotics has a generous supply of college scholarships and job placement.

Motorola and FIRST Inspire Next Generation of Engineers

March 5th, 2009

Motorola has a Philanthropy Division that is helping children from around the world make a positive change in the world. Through their financial contributions and personal mentors, they are giving hope to children from around the world.

Schaumburg, Ill., 17 April 2008 – For nearly 20 years, Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) have worked together to introduce students to the limitless opportunities available in engineering and technology careers. This year, the Motorola Foundation has provided nearly $860,000 and more than 100 volunteers to support 15 FIRST Robotics Competition teams and 110 FIRST LEGO League teams that introduce students to the exciting real-world applications of engineering and innovation.

“Robotics mania sweeps the country each school year as next-generation inventors construct six-foot, 120-pound machines to compete in this global competition that has the energy and excitement of a rock concert,” said Eileen Sweeney, director of the Motorola Foundation. “FIRST Robotics is a shining example of educational programs supported by the Motorola Foundation that are transforming the image of science and engineering and inspiring kids to innovate.”

Students across the globe competed in regional FIRST Robotics Competitions for a chance to advance to the FIRST championship in Atlanta this week. Motorola salutes the eight company-sponsored teams - from Illinois, Florida, New York and Georgia – who are competing with their robots before an audience of thousands at the Georgia Dome. More than 220 high school students participated in Motorola-sponsored teams this year.

The Motorola-funded teams have been very successful this competition season. The Chicago-based After School Matters-Roberto Clemente High school team was the overall winner of the Midwest Regional competition. Additionally, the New York Patchogue Medford Raiders were honored with the New Jersey Regional Chairman’s Award.

In addition to the FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students, FIRST LEGO League robotics competitions engage students 9-14 years old. With a focus on igniting a passion for science and engineering among girls, Motorola sponsored 90 new all-girl FIRST LEGO League teams this year. The Cobalt Blue team from Illinois won the Illinois State competition and advanced to the LEGO League World Festival taking place concurrently with the FIRST Robotics Competition.

“Our support always includes mentors and creating connections between kids and engineering role models who open their eyes to possibilities for their futures,” Sweeney added. “The Motorola volunteers who participate in this program each year offer their time and their expertise to inspire tomorrow’s great inventors.”

A founding sponsor of FIRST, Motorola has provided continuous financial and personal support, investing $13.8 million and countless volunteers hours in the organization since its inception in 1989. Motorola also has contributed to FIRST’s global expansion, funding teams and regional competitions in Chile, Germany, Brazil and Israel this year.

According to a Brandeis University study, when compared to a group of non-FIRST students with similar backgrounds and academic experiences, including math and science, FIRST students not only are more than twice as likely to pursue a career in science and technology, but also are nearly four times as likely to pursue a career in engineering. Through FIRST, students build self-confidence, teamwork and leadership skills. FIRST reports that 87 percent of the high school competitors and company mentors have stayed involved year after year. Several former FIRST student participants now are Motorola employees and FIRST mentors.

“It’s great seeing students get excited about the science and engineering fields, especially the ones who have not had much exposure in this area,” said Julie Atkins, a Motorola engineer and current mentor for the WildStang team Rolling Meadows and Wheeling high schools in Illinois. “We see a lot of growth in their development and in the way they feel about themselves and the concept of a team.”

Motorola employee mentors volunteer their time and energy to coach FIRST teams, helping students understand engineering fundamentals, designing and building team robots, developing a strategy and fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration. This year, more than 100 Motorola employees volunteered in state competitions and coached eight teams across the United States.

About Motorola Foundation
The Motorola Foundation is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Motorola. With employees located around the globe, Motorola seeks to benefit the communities where it operates. The company achieves this by making strategic grants, forging strong community partnerships, fostering innovation and engaging stakeholders. Motorola Foundation focuses its funding on education, especially science, technology, engineering and math programming. For more information, on Motorola Corporate and Foundation giving, visit

About Motorola
Motorola is known around the world for innovation in communications. The company develops technologies, products and services that make mobile experiences possible. Our portfolio includes communications infrastructure, enterprise mobility solutions, digital set-tops, cable modems, mobile devices and Bluetooth accessories. Motorola is committed to delivering next generation communication solutions to people, businesses and governments. A Fortune 100 company with global presence and impact, Motorola had sales of US $36.6 billion in 2007. For more information about our company, our people and our innovations, please visit