2:15 pm EST – FIRST Robotics: From Competition to Career

The FIRST robotics program at thousands of American high schools has formed an important pathway to careers for young STEM workers and an increasingly significant recruitment platform for companies in the auto industry, said panelists in the AutoMobili-D program at the 2019 North American International Auto Show today.

In a discussion about the program founded by entrepreneur and inventor Dean Kamen – FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” — Charlie Ackerman, senior vice president of human resources fore supplier Bosch, said that the program is important to the company.

“The advancement of the market is moving so quickly and creating demand so fast that supply can’t keep up,” he said. “FIRST is a strategic talent pipeline.”

FIRST alumni working at Bosch shared Ackerman’s enthusiasm. April Schoenemann, for example, knew nothing about FIRST when a friend recruited her to participate, and “that evolved to me building things and working with my hands and discovering that I had some aptitude.” That led to her college decision and then to a job with Bosch, where she is a senior account manager.

Another FIRST alumnus is Tim Bello, a packaging engineer at Bosch. FIRST “gave me a start and taught me to love engineering and make connections at companies, and now it offers me an opportunity to pay it forward.” FIRST gave Bello, he said, “something to love … and I became passionate about it.”

Julian Gabriel, another Bosch employee, said his FIRST exposure helped teach him 3D modeling and CAD software while he was still in high school, “so going into college I was very much ahead of the curve. It also provided … an opportunity to work with mentors.”