With its support of FIRST and FIRST North Carolina, Qualcomm is doing its part to bring innovation, collaboration, and STEM education to students all over the world. Qualcomm and FIRSTare working together to expose students early and give them the confidence they need to be successful members of the STEM workforce.
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is essential for invention. And as a company of inventors, Qualcomm is laying the groundwork for the next generation of innovators by supporting K-12 STEM education and inspiring greater diversity in the STEM workforce. This is becoming increasingly important as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that although STEM jobs are expected to grow at a rate of nearly double that of other fields, around 1.2 million such positions will be unfilled in 2018 because of a lack of applicable skills in the U.S. workforce.
Qualcomm is helping to build a diverse STEM workforce — for its own future, and that of the world — and thinks FIRSTplays a critical role in offering students exposure to real-world careers. With its support of FIRST North Carolina, Qualcomm is doing its part to bring innovation, collaboration, and STEM education to students in North Carolina.
Learn more about Qualcomm and their career opportunities here. Thank you Qualcomm for your amazing commitment and support in North Carolina!
Meet veteran volunteer Bob Hagh! He is one of our talented referees and incredibly enthusiastic supporters. We love his high energy and sense of humor. Thanks for all you do, Bob!
How long have you been volunteering for FIRST?
I got back into volunteering for FIRST in 2015. I was a member of FRC 230 in Shelton, CT when I was in high school from 2001-2005. As a team member I remember volunteering for field reset during the Championship for the 2004 game Raising The Bar. After graduating, I volunteered for a few FIRST Lego League competitions in my hometown.
What positions have you held?
Since 2015, I’ve primarily volunteered as a referee. In 2017, I went back to field reset for a district event in Dallas, Texas when I lived there for a year. My goal is to become a head referee, but since I love putting on a good show, I want to flex my muscles as Master of Ceremonies one day.
What inspired you to become a volunteer?
I always found volunteering to be a fun and easy way to give back to a community. It’s an opportunity to help others out while having fun and learning. Since I am a people person, volunteering allows me to interact with others. This, in turn, feeds my energy. I’m a big supporter of FIRST and STEM, and it’s great to see the program going strong after all these years.
What is your favorite part about volunteering?
I really enjoy meeting the students in the FIRST program. It is such a diverse crowd, and seeing students get really excited about programming, engineering, designing, and anything else within the scope of science really makes me happy. It reminds me of when I was back in high school and I got into computer science and design.
How has volunteering helped you in your career and in life?
It’s made me more happy in life. Volunteering for FIRST allowed me to rediscover my interest in computer science and the thrill of the competition makes it just as exciting to watch all the hard work students, teachers, parents, and mentors have put into their team’s success. Volunteering has ignited that spark of innovation and curiosity that has gone missing in the last few years of my life. I’m looking as going into a whole new career in my early-30s, and being involved with FIRST has made that path of discovery just a little bit easier.
What words of advice would you give to new volunteers or to those considering volunteering?
Volunteering is fun and a great way to meet new people and to learn about new areas of science and technology. With a wide variety of positions to volunteer for, with any experience level, it’s easy to jump in and learn the ins and outs of the FIRST organization. Just being at an event is going to inspire you. Also, bring a friend to volunteer with! I got my girlfriend to sign up to be a volunteer at 2018's THOR event, and she had a blast.
What team were you a member of?
FRC 4935 T-Rex
How many years were you on the team?
1 FRC year and 1 FLL mentoring year.
Where do you currently work and what is your job description?
I currently work at a technology company called Red Ventures. I am a back end software engineer.
How long have you been there?
I have been working at Red Ventures for 2 years now.
What is one highlight from your time on the team?
When I was in FIRST Robotics, I was fortunate enough to be a Deans List Finalist. However, THE BEST highlight of my experience was when I mentored a brand new FLL team at the elementary school that I went to as a child. Seeing the students and how passionate they were about learning about technology and science to solve problems that they care about was one of the most fulfilling things I have done yet. I say that because I coached them on more than just how to design and program a LEGO robot; I had to coach them on what it means to be part of a team and to be a good team player. Seeing how that impacts a young mind has inspired me to keep teaching even in my current career. I make an effort to still go out to local schools to teach students about skills that will help them in any STEM career.
What are the top three skills you learned from your FIRST experience that have made an impact on your current job?
When people think about engineers, specifically software developers, they think about heads down coding in a dark room. FIRST has taught me that technology is one of the most collaborative industries out there. Everything that is innovative has been done with a team of open communicators. Robotics has taught me the fundamentals of working on a tech team and what open communication looks like. Practicing this open communication has helped me grow in my career faster than any other skill. But not only that, it has helped me become a better leader.
The second skill I learned from my FIRST experience is how to problem solve and what that process looks like. My mentor, Matthew Brown, always told us to keep asking "why?" until you can't any more. Then you will find the real cause of your problem. Those are words that I STILL think about in my daily tasks.
The last but not least skill I learned in my FIRST experience is project management. Building a robot in 6 weeks takes a village, but more specifically, a very organized village. This is where all the skills come together, and if you're not intentional with your decisions, it can make or break your team. Robotics is not just a 6 week club. It's a year round club that takes lots of planning and strategic decisions that can help the team year over year. Being part of FIRST has taught me what it means to project manage and this is a skill that has helped me in my current career in a very noticeable way. I have been proven to be responsible and reliable and that is something that I was first exposed to in FIRST robotics.
How has FIRST impacted your life?
When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to go into art. I wanted to become some sort of art director and help put together exhibitions. I honestly never even considered technology because I always thought it was too complicated for me to even try. When I was a junior in high school I was convinced by my friends to just give the club a try. That was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my high school career. I discovered that I like technology and that it's nothing like what I thought it was. And as a bonus, I was actually pretty good at it. Had I not tried FIRST Robotics, I would have never even considered being in the career that I am in today.
What words of wisdom do you have for current FIRSTers?
Being part of FIRST Robotics is more than learning how to put together a robot. It's an opportunity to invest in yourself and invest in your team. It's one of the most diverse and impactful opportunities there are; and if you're in it for the right reasons, you're going to benefit from those opportunities and you're going to grow immensely. This is why I encourage every current FIRSTer to embrace their discomfort and lean into the investment that will not only benefit themselves, but those around them as well.
This month we are shining the spotlight on FRC Team 4816, the Gadget Girls. The Gadget Girls are an all girls robotics team based out of Raleigh, NC. Go Go Gadget Girls!
Tell us in 2-3 sentences about your team: Team make-up, where the team is from, that kind of thing.
The Gadget Girls are North Carolina’s oldest all-girl team and we are going on seven years of being involved with FIRST. We are Girl Scouts from the Triangle region of North Carolina.
What has been a highlight for your team over the years?
There were many highlights for our team over the past few years. We will always remember making new friends on the team and at competitions, trying new things like helping little kids learn about robots, and learning how to build and program robots ourselves. Many of us had never touched a robot before joining the team so that’s a fun one! Another highlight is that we have learned not be worried about failure because failure is just an opportunity to learn something new. We will always keep that mindset because there is always time to learn more things!
Tell us about one struggle your team has overcome and how you did so.
One of the biggest struggles we have faced was that we have been a small team for most of our existence. This has caused us to not have enough hands for what needed to be done and people ended up doing more than they originally thought they were going to be responsible for. We overcame this by having a prioritized to do list at each meeting to make sure we were getting everything done in the most efficient order possible. When we didn’t have enough people to get everything done we had to make sacrifices and plan how to get those tasks done later.
What words of wisdom would you give to a rookie team?
Some words of wisdom that we would give to a rookie team would be that it will always be okay and everyone is willing to help you! You will make mistakes but you can learn so much from them and that’s how you get better
What does FIRST mean to you and your team?
FIRST to us is people who are passionate about robotics and STEAM coming together and learning together. It is not just separate teams competing, it’s a community of teams helping each other every step of the way. FIRST is also an opportunity that prepares us for our future by giving us a peek at the real world of STEAM and what our potential careers could be like.
We are excited to welcome back TE Connectivity as a Mastermind Sponsor! They have been a tremendous supporter since 2014. TE not only sponsors FIRST NC and our many events, they also provide mentors and financial support to numerous FIRST Robotics competition teams across the state. In addition, they provide a home for our field and materials during the off season. Our TE Connectivity volunteers are some of the best. They serve in many key roles and truly inspire the next generation of engineers and innovators.
Did you know TE produces many products that are used in space launches and travel? They have many applications from launch vehicles to a spacecraft chassis.
TE Connectivity is also working on creating a safer, more sustainable, productive, and connected renewable energy industry through harvesting wind. They are at the forefront of trying to reduce our CO2 emissions by using wind turbines and solar panels to help build a sustainable future.
A career at TE Connectivity can be a great and exciting path. Check out some of the opportunities here.