F5 is supporting FIRST Robotics again this year financially and by mentoring teams.  For those of you who are not familiar with FIRST, it is the organization that’s designed to improve kids’ involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  The US is lagging behind other countries in terms of how many STEM graduates we produce and the FIRST program has proven to get more kids interested in STEM. For companies like F5, STEM graduates are our lifeblood and we need more of them - we have about 180 job openings today.

FIRST was started by Dean Kamen, the guy behind things like portable dialysis, portable insulin pumps and the Segway.  His goal was to make science just as interesting as sports by making kids who get into FIRST feel like rock stars.  If you’ve been to a FIRST event or have mentored a team, you know that his approach is working.

 

Compared to their peers, FIRST students are:

·         More than 3 times as likely to major specifically in engineering.

·         Roughly 10 times as likely to have had an apprenticeship, internship, or co-op job in their freshman year.

·         Significantly more likely to expect to achieve a post graduate degree.

·         More than twice as likely to expect to pursue a career in science and technology.

·         Nearly 4 times as likely to expect to pursue a career specifically in engineering.

·         More than twice as likely to volunteer in their communities.

Here’s what you can do:

The kids in FIRST need of people to mentor teams.  Your knowledge of development, support, marketing, sales, finance, IT or just about anything can be very helpful for these teams.  Here are 2 links to help you get connected to teams in your area:

·         Map of teams with contact information for Washington

·         Map of teams with contact information for all the USA

The kick off for this year’s FIRST Robotics Challenge for high school is January 7th, 2012.  These are open for anybody to attend.  During the kickoff event, the specifics of this year’s game are revealed and will shape the kids’ robot design decisions. I hope that you get involved with this fantastic organization.  I guarantee that you will be amazed and rewarded by the passion and creativity displayed by the kids.  You also will be doing something that will help our country’s long term competitiveness.  Here’s a quote sent last month from a student at high school near Seattle about his experience helping a team of younger kids: "I love FIRST- it’s part of how I define myself, and if I could choose the most meaningful event in my life, the one point where I felt that I made a DIFFERENCE, this would be it!"