Dr. Gregory Firn serves as the Chief Operating Officer for RoboKind. With over 33 years of experience in education, Greg has done everything from teaching to running entire school districts. Dr. Firn has published several hundred research abstracts and articles on how to improve school systems, how to be a thought leader for emerging trends, and how to implement and manage project-based learning. Greg’s deep experience and passion for helping under-served children has been instrumental in helping RoboKind develop the products and strategies that will successfully serve the K-12 education market.
“It was probably while I was working with Effective Schools and their research that I discovered my passion for underrepresented or historically marginalized kids. While serving as the district superintendent in North Carolina and working with a minority/majority school system with high poverty, I thought, ‘You know what? We can do better! We can create huge differences in the lives of these kids.’”
The “Wow” Moment
From the very beginning, the focus at RoboKind has been to help children with autism learn critical social and behavioral skills and achieve academic success. But even though Milo is the world’s most advanced social robot, introducing him into schools and school systems is not easy. Greg brought to RoboKind an insider’s understanding of the educational system and its unique budgetary and purchasing processes. He also had the skills to create a business plan that would make it possible for RoboKind to successfully launch its products into the K-12 market. As luck would have it, Greg was at a point in his career where he was looking for something different to do—something that could revolutionize traditional learning. Greg was introduced to Fred and Richard, the cofounders of RoboKind, and was instantly impressed by their vision to help special needs children. Since joining the company, Greg has helped RoboKind grow its foothold in the education market by providing critical insight and direction.
“I spent 13 years really looking at many companies, products and services, trying to evaluate if and how those products would improve the educational lives of kids. For me, all of that experience culminated when I met Fred and Richard and listened to their vision. That’s when I said, ‘Wow! We have a tremendous opportunity to not only make an impact but to sincerely and authentically change lives.’”
It was obvious from the very start that Robots4Autism had the potential to drastically change the way children with autism could be treated. One of the clinics that participated in early product testing was the Dallas Autism Treatment Center. Videos of Milo and the therapists working with children at the center provided the needed proof that Milo and the curriculum were changing lives. As Milo’s influence has expanded, success stories have mounted and more and more children have been helped. This is what continues to motivate Greg.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact of the Robots4Autism program on children. But I’ve also seen its impact on therapists, on teachers, on special educators, and paraprofessionals. And, I’ve seen how the lives of parents and family members have been changed. That’s what this is all about, that’s why I’m here—to change lives.”
RoboKind recently launched Robots4STEM, a new platform that helps students explore their passion for technology by teaching them how to program a humanoid robot using next-generation visual programming tools. With Robots4Autism and now the addition of Robots4STEM, Greg’s focus is on positioning RoboKind to be a world leader in the educational market.