Initiating Robot Sequence: Inspire Next Generation

First Robotics Opening

Beep boop beep. Let’s face it – there’s more to robots than beeps, boops and squeaks.

Robotic innovations represent the answer to countless challenges –from disaster response to deep space exploration. But what about conquering the challenges of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce pipeline? Yes, robots can do that too!

From March into April, 400,000 students around the globe participate in the 2015 For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition. Lockheed Martin is a long-time supporter of the FIRST Robotics organization. On average, over 500 employees across the corporation volunteer their time each year with FIRST Robotics, serving as team mentors, regional competition volunteers and parent advisors for all four competition levels.

Three of our employee volunteers share their experiences with the program serving as mentors and career role models.

For program manager Ed Ewald, FIRST Robotics is a rewarding volunteer experience that allows him to participate in the excitement of students from around the world coming together for the sport of science and technology.

“It goes without saying that the hands-on skills the students gain from participating in FIRST Robotics provide a critical head start when entering technical disciplines after high school,” said Ewald. “The program not only opens doors to more advanced collegiate work, but provides a broader societal impact as the students will eventually become the technology innovators of the future.”

Student participants demonstrate their knowledge of engineering and manufacturing principles by putting their robots to the test in a number of interactive challenges aimed at developing strategic problem-solving, organizational and team-building skills.

Are you convinced yet that robotics can tackle STEM?

Audrey Lander, senior material engineer, is confident that working with robots ignites young peoples’ minds and demonstrates the unlimited possibilities in technical-related fields. Since 2009, Lander has volunteered with FIRST Robotics, supporting her team’s community outreach and fundraising efforts.


“Robotics brings the world to the students,” said Lander. “Otherwise, they would not be exposed to the technical education and career opportunities available outside their community.”

Working with robotics not only helps young people develop their engineering and technology passion and proficiency, it allows students to explore real-world challenges in the industry.

Tying projects back to applicable examples is seamless to the building process for mechanical engineer, Bill Skaff. With 20 years of retrospect, Skaff has enjoyed observing how students’ experiences with the program have molded their career paths.

“I always find it interesting that the technology around the machine inspires the students who originally did not have a technical interest when joining the program,” said Skaff.

Robotics plays a critical role in the future, starting with demonstrating to our young people the numerous opportunities available in STEM-related fields. It’s more than developing career and life skills – it’s about building a global community and making the world a better place.

The mission of FIRST Robotics is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills. It is estimated that FIRST programming reached approximately 400,000 students in the 2014-2015 school year and that sponsors donated more than $19 million in scholarship funding to FIRST teams.

If you would like to get involved and volunteer with FIRST, check out its website to learn more about the program and volunteer opportunities.