April 24, 2014
Motorola Solutions Foundation Supports Future Engineers at 2014 FIRST® Robotics Competition
ST. LOUIS — April 24, 2014 Cheered on by thousands of students and adults in the stands, a robot the size of an easy chair dodges competitors and launches a beach-ball sized ball at a target. What’s inspiring is not only that the robot is competing with hundreds of others, but that all the robots in this competition are designed, built, programmed, and operated by high school students (with some help from generous volunteer engineers).
The Motorola Solutions Foundation, the charitable arm of Motorola Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MSI) and Motorola Solutions (MSI) employee volunteers, provide students from around the world with an opportunity to experience hands-on engineering through FIRST® Robotics. FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is an international organization with a mission to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that foster science, engineering, technology and math skills.
One of the key priorities of the Motorola Solutions Foundation is to help students develop their abilities in engineering, software programming, teamwork and budgeting as they prepare to enter the marketplace and work for technology companies like Motorola Solutions.
Through the various challenges created by FIRST® each year, volunteers and students collaborate to build, program, and compete robots tasked to perform various capabilities.
The Motorola Solutions Foundation has supported FIRST® Robotics since its inception in 1989. This year, the Motorola Solutions Foundation sponsored more than 900 teams at the elementary, middle and high school levels in 12 countries through grants of more than $550,000 and thousands of volunteer hours.
- Eleven of the Motorola Solutions Foundation-sponsored FIRST® Robotics teams will advance to the 2014 Championship to be held April 23-26 in St. Louis.
- This year’s challenge for high school students is to design and build robots that can throw and catch large balls.
- These Motorola Solutions Foundation-sponsored teams have made it to the national championship competition:
- FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 4010 (Nautilus): The Foundation has supported this Mexico City-based team for the past three years. This year Team 4010 Nautilus qualified for the FIRST® Championship. MSI communication specialist Mariana Dominguez and several other MSI employees mentor this team.
- FRC Team 111 (WildStang): This veteran, Schaumburg, Ill.-team competes and excels at the Championship each year. Beyond its advanced engineering capabilities, WildStang helps other teams enhance and improve the design and technical functions of their robots. MSI engineers Dan Rooney, Joe Morales, Chris Smith and Tiffany Gach mentor the WildStang team.
- FRC Team 1266 (Devil Duckies): This San Diego-based team was part of the winning alliance at the San Diego Regional and won the Engineering Inspiration award at the Las Vegas Regional. Recently retired MSI project manager Steve Stark mentors this team.
- FRC Team 108 (SigmaC@t): This Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based team received the prestigious Judges Award at their regional competition. MSI mechanical engineer Patrick Claeys along with other MSI employees mentor SigmaC@t.
- FRC Team 329 (Raiders): This Medford, N.Y.-based team was the regional winner and received the Excellence in Engineering award at the School to Business Partnership of Long Island Regional at Hofstra University. At the Chesapeake regional, the Raiders received the Engineering Inspiration award and one of their team participants, Michelle Arnold, also qualified as one of the two Dean's List winners. Several MSI employees mentor the Raiders including electrical engineer Cel Alem, mechanical engineer Roger Arnoldi, and software engineers Tom Boehm, Matt Boehm and Chris Kowalewski.
- FRC Team 422 (The Mech Tech Dragons): This Richmond, Va.-based team received the Chairman’s Award at their regional competition. MSI regional service manager Jerry Masak mentors the Mech Tech Dragons.
- FRC Team 1261 (RoboLions): This Georgia-based team won the Palmetto Regional Competition and earned the Industrial Design Award at the Peachtree Regional in Atlanta. MSI project coordinator Valerie Strain mentors the RoboLions and was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year at the Peachtree Regional Competition.
- FRC Team 5196 (Breaking Bot): This Parkland, Fla.-based team qualified for Championship at the South Florida Regional as a Rookie All-Star Team. MSI systems engineer Bob Sileo mentors the Breaking Bot team.
- FTC Team Valley X: This Chandler, Ariz. team advanced out of the West Super Regional competition in Sacramento, Calif. to earn a bid to the championship in St. Louis. MSI director of government affairs, Mark Bare, mentors this team.
- FLL Team Hippie Pandas (#12040): This team of Girl Scouts from New York won the Finger Lakes Champions Regional Award, the Finger Lakes CC Qualifier and the Champions Award.
- JFLL Team Tiny Tornadoes (#484): This team of Girls Scouts is from Chicago.
- As a way to support young women who are interested in careers in engineering, the Motorola Solutions Foundation supports more than 80 FIRST® teams made up of Girl Scouts. Of these, two teams will advance to the FIRST® Championship.
- A dozen Motorola Solutions employees will be on-site in St. Louis, lending their enthusiasm and expertise to their teams at the championship.
- In addition to funding, more than 100 Motorola Solutions employees volunteered with the FIRST® organization this year. Many of these volunteers, such as Patrick Claeys, from Plantation, Fla., and Dan Rooney from Schaumburg, Ill., have served as FIRST® team mentors for the past several years. Claeys and Rooney are honored to support these amazing teams with the aim of inspiring the next generation of science and technology leaders.
Matt Blakely, director, Motorola Solutions Foundation
“We are proud of our employees and the students they mentor. While someone watching this competition will see robots competing on a field, these students and our employee volunteers know how much incredible work, creativity, technical skill, and research goes into building a robot and a successful team. This program teaches tomorrow’s workforce that careers in engineering and technology are not only fun, but also relevant and possible.”
Valerie Strain, project coordinator, Motorola Solutions, and mentor of the RoboLions
“FIRST teams are like fully functioning businesses working under real-world deadlines to build a robot, develop business plans, and raise money for competition. One of my favorite parts is watching students in FIRST Robotics programs gain confidence and leadership skills. It’s amazing to watch a new student join the team, not sure how they will contribute or how they will fit in, and then see that student three or four years later leading the team, making decisions, and sharing their knowledge and skills with the new students that come after them. That is my reward.”
Joe Morales, engineer, Motorola Solutions, and mentor to WildStang
“FIRST robotics is a great opportunity for MSI to partner with future engineers and leaders before they complete high school. As a mentor, it is incredibly rewarding to interact with the students, teach them engineering fundamentals and watch them create a competitive robot.”
Tom Boehm, software engineer, Motorola Solutions, and mentor of the Raiders
“This program successfully prepares high school students for the engineering world and sets them up to be valuable contributors to technology companies like Motorola Solutions. Everyone wins with this program.”
Follow the Motorola Solutions Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.