FIRST Robotics is a program designed to inspire and encourage students to develop skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by engaging them in hands-on, project-based learning. The skills students develop through FIRST Robotics align with the skills Indiana’s employers are searching for.
Problem-solving: FIRST Robotics challenges students to identify and solve complex problems, a critical skill in the workforce. By working on robotics projects, students learn to break down problems into smaller components and develop innovative solutions. FIRST students are also encouraged to solve problems in their communities based on an annual theme. This additional challenge expands students’ ideas of what STEM is.
Collaboration: FIRST Robotics encourages teamwork and collaboration, which is essential in many work environments. Students learn to work with others to achieve a common goal, develop effective communication skills, and learn to appreciate the unique strengths that each team member brings.
Decision-Making: FIRST Robotics requires students to think critically and make decisions based on data and evidence. This is a crucial skill in the workforce, particularly in fields such as engineering, where decisions can have significant implications.
Creativity: FIRST Robotics challenges students to think creatively and develop unique solutions to complex problems. This is an essential skill in many industries, particularly in fields such as product design and marketing. With no directions, students are challenged to solve complex engineering problems with limited resources. Using materials they can source locally, students have the opportunity to invent unique solutions to the game each year.
Attention to Detail: FIRST Robotics provides students with hands-on experience in designing, building, and programming robots, an increasingly important skill in the workforce. Students who participate in FIRST Robotics gain experience in coding, 3D printing, machining, fabrication, and electronics, which are in high demand in many industries.
Perseverance: FIRST Robotics students are challenged to design, prototype, fabricate, and code robots from scratch in a timely manner which challenges project management skills with the additional stress of having to invent solutions to engineering problems. Through multiple competitions, these students learn to persevere through failure and ultimately get to success.
Professionalism: The core guiding ethos of FIRST is Gracious Professionalism. Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition, and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest-thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes, either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.
In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.
What FIRST is really good with is not just developing these students’ technical skills, but developing their professional skills as well. A lot of good communication skills these students are learning; we are seeing professional development in terms of teamwork and collaboration because they have to work with so many teams from schools they don’t even know. We really like that at Toyota, because we have to do the same thing.
-Chris Melvin, Toyota
Self-Discipline: By focusing on creating student-led teams, FIRST creates opportunities for young people to have to work with limited resources and tight schedules to have a robot ready for competition and to be prepared to address with judges how the team has positioned itself for the variety of awards given in FIRST. From entrepreneurship, creativity, and team spirit to industrial design and excellence in engineering, our students must come to the competition ready to address all facets of a STEM business. The required project management skills necessary to be ready for this require students to balance their school work, family commitments, other activities, and robotics at the same time.
Story from a Participant
Before being a part of FIRST, I had never worked so hard at something in my life before. As a part of my team, I feel like I’m contributing to something greater than myself. The long weeks and months of work and dedication all feel worth it in the end when I’m able to see my team compete. FIRST has changed my life, and I’m ever grateful for the opportunity that my team has given me.
“When I first joined my team, Cyber Blue, I was a shy freshman who didn’t have many friends. After joining the team, I quickly began to grow as a person, learning to become more confident in myself and my abilities as a programmer. After my first year on the team, I was promoted to lead programmer due to how quickly I was picking up programming and how I was growing as a leader. After this, I remained the lead programmer of my team for the following years, allowing me to become a very confident leader, all while learning problem-solving skills from working on the robot and going to competitions. When I think of my abilities to problem solve, I think back to a regional event at Rocket City. Our robot had a sensor break during a finals match, and I had to come up with a code solution to allow our robot to still work, as the sensor could not be fixed in time before the final match. The time-sensitive nature of finals matches put a ton of pressure on me to come up with and implement a solution which to me felt like a breeze as I had learned from robotics how to work well under immense pressure. I personally believe that my time on the robotics team greatly improved my abilities as both an individual and a leader based on my experiences. I wholeheartedly recommend robotics to anyone in high school, as it was the greatest decision I ever made.”
For this program to truly fulfill its goal of preparing youth for the workforce, we need mentors. We highly encourage companies to incentivize employees to engage with local teams to mentor and guide students through this experience.
“FIRST is a community that helps drive students to success, leadership, and understanding of the world around them.” – FIRST Mentor.
If your company is interested in providing mentors to teams, please reach out to FIRST Indiana Robotics Vice President of Programs, Chris Osborne – firstname.lastname@example.org
We can help your company gain access to its local workforce pipeline.
Also, please attend one of our competitions this spring as a VIP. Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/energize-your-workforce-1328219?utm-campaign=social&utm-content=creatorshare&utm-medium=discovery&utm-term=odclsxcollection&utm-source=cp&aff=escb