2010 FIRST Scholarship Winner Testimonials

Here is what some of our 2010 FIRST Scholarship Winners have to say about FIRST and their FIRST Scholarship:

"My amazing experience in FIRST opened my eyes to the world of engineering at such an early age when I was just entering secondary school.  Through the program, I've gained experience in practical engineering concepts through processes of iterative design, programming, fabrication and assembly.  The FIRST Mechatronics Scholarship from the University of Waterloo has allowed me to continue to nourish this passion for engineering as its support has been vital to my aspirations of becoming a professional engineer. My participation in FIRST has truly opened many doors in my life, and I am absolutely grateful for all the people who have helped me cross through those doors."

--Tarjote Chaggar, Team 2056, University of Waterloo, Class of 2015, Mechatronics Engineering

"If I hadn't been awarded the ASME-ASME Auxiliary FIRST Clarke Scholarship, I would not have had enough money to pay for my first year of college.  Thanks to FIRST Robotics, and ASME, I don't have to worry about where the money for my freshman year will come from. I am so grateful for the experience and the financial help I received as a part of being on a FIRST Robotics Team!"

--Ty Haws, Team 2484, Brigham Young University, Class of 2016, Mechanical Engineering, winner of an ASME-ASME Auxiliary FIRST Clarke Scholarship

"Looking back on my four years in FIRST , I can see how I have blossomed as a person.  FIRST is about more than just building a robot-it’s about the experience you gain working alongside professional engineers and seeing what the real world of technology is all about.  FIRST shows its students that they have the ability to achieve things far beyond their wildest dreams, whether that means winning a scholarship to college or seeing the robot they built with their own hands rise to the top.  As a FIRST participant, you have the skills that make you an exceptional learner, thinker, and person.  I know that I am extremely well prepared to be successful both in engineering and in life because of my time here.  And in these tough economic times, scholarships mean more than ever.  My FIRST scholarship has made it possible for me to pursue a career in engineering at the school of my dreams. I really could not ask for a greater opportunity than that!"

--Gina Triolo, Team 341, Princeton University, Class of 2014, Computer Science, winner of the  FIRST Allaire Medal Scholarship

"Beginning in my sophomore year of high school I was interested in engineering and FIRST enabled this to grow into a career goal for life. The FIRST scholarship enabled me to further my interests in engineering and robotics and pursue these dreams at a phenomenal institute."

--Joshua Blum, Team 1601, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Class of 2014, Electrical Engineering, winner of a Raytheon Company FIRST Scholarship

"When I joined FIRST I knew I enjoyed science but hadn't considered it as a career. In FIRST I have learned so much about engineering and leadership. Receiving the John Morin Memorial Scholarship gave me that extra help I needed to pursue my dream of teaching physics and helping future generations to be inspired to go into science, engineering, and technology."

--Lauren Nowicki, Team 293, Gettysburg College, Class of 2014, Physics and Education, winner of a Laboratory Robotics Interest Group - John Morin Memorial FIRST Scholarship

"Winning a FIRST Scholarship was really just an added bonus on top of getting to be involved in the experience the robotics competition offered me.  I enjoyed the challenge and triumph of designing and building a functional robot so much.  I feel that the problem solving skills I gained during my tenure in the FIRST Robotics competition will stay with me throughout college and my future career in engineering, and I am very grateful that I had the chance to participate in the program.  Receiving the scholarship helped me to pay for college too, which was also quite welcome."

--Wilson McNeary, Team 3663, University of Missouri-Columbia, Class of 2014, Chemical Engineering, winner of a University of Missouri FIRST Scholarship

"FIRST Robotics is an incredible organization! I'm so glad I joined! It shows you the benefit of teamwork and innovation in a fun filled environment!  Plus I received a Clarkson University FIRST scholarship for $24,000 for being involved with FIRST!  Can't beat that!"

--Matthew Turcotte, Team 1713, Clarkson University, Class of 2014, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

"For the past four years, I have been part of the FIRST Robotics team, Team 1987, The Broncobots of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Our team formed during the 2006-2007 school year when I was a senior, and I have been a college mentor since graduation. Originally, I joined the team because my dad signed up to be a mentor. I liked science and math, but I never knew how to apply them to real situations or why they were so important in career decision-making. Without a doubt, the reason I’m an engineering major at Missouri S&T is because of my involvement with FIRST Robotics.

Being a student and mentor on the team has been life changing. Building a robot in six-weeks is difficult to top, but the community and overall goals of FIRST have influenced me more than the robots. Over the past four seasons, my team has visited over fifteen schools and twenty-five businesses. Through food drives, we’ve collected over 1000 pounds of food. Our mail campaigns have sent over 1,100 letters to government officials, looking for more support for science, technology, engineering, and math in schools. We’ve mentored another team, Team 2894 of the Afrikan Centered Education Collegium Campus, and we’ve worked cooperatively on projects with our two Lee’s Summit sister high schools through our R-7 Alliance group, I’ve volunteered for the Kansas City Regional for the past four years, and I’ve also been a volunteer at the Denver Regional. These opportunities won’t all be found in any one high school program, but through FIRST , I have been part of it all.

Through these ventures, I have met countless new people: teachers, business leaders, senators, volunteers, and most importantly, students. The students I have met are what make FIRST the most rewarding. From kindergartners to high school seniors, I have encouraged students to get involved with the STEM fields.  Before FIRST , my career goals were capricious: originally I planned on pursuing teaching English, then turned to owning an ice cream store only to be enraptured by visions of book editing. FIRST founder Dean Kamen started the program to inspire students to become "science and technology heroes," and I forward that sentiment to every student I meet. I practiced what I preached to students about the benefits of being involved with science, technology, math, and engineering, and now I’m here at Missouri S&T.

Although I am a college mentor, the professional engineer mentors, sponsors, and students on the team have been teachers and supporters for my education decision throughout my experience. There is no other program that influences a student so much and makes his or her dreams accessible. FIRST allowed me real experience in engineering, and it introduced me to people who could help me further my goals. In the past four years, I have changed from a high school senior with no resolute direction, to a college student with definite goals and the means to get there.

When I received my Missouri S&T FIRST Scholarship, I was already in college at Missouri S&T. The first two years of college I fulfilled at my local community college, and thanks to previous scholarships, everything was paid for. Upon transfer to Missouri S&T, I quickly realized the outrageous price difference between community college and university education. When I applied for the FIRST Scholarship, I realized that every little bit would help ease the financial burden. With the FIRST Scholarship, I have been less plagued by the financial stresses that come with being a college student. Having worked full-time the four years before transferring to Missouri S&T, receiving a scholarship based solely on my involvement with FIRST was a truly great opportunity, one I’m glad I did not pass up. I’m incredibly grateful to FIRST , its mentors, and its sponsors for inspiring me and allowing my dreams to become a reality."

--Emma Hand, Team 1987, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Class of 2013, Aerospace Engineering Major

"FIRST introduced me to a brand new world. Growing up in a community of only 500 people and going to a high school where my graduating class consisted of 14 members, I was accustomed to sports, band, or FFA as my options for extracurricular activities. But when my shop class teacher approached a group of students wanting to know if we would like to build a robot for competition, I immediately accepted! FIRST challenged me in a way I had never been before. I learned about programming and mechanics, things I would’ve never imagined being able to talk about.let alone explain to a judge.  After competing in FIRST, I realized that I was extremely interested in science and engineering, thus pushing my career path to lead me that direction. Looking back FIRST was one of the best things I could have done because it got me out of my comfort zone and taught me that doing something new can sometimes lead to something you love. Anyone who is considering joining a FIRST team, I say GO FOR IT! Don’t have a FIRST team available to you? Make one! It is so worthwhile and the experience and memories you gain from competing on a FIRST Robotics team are priceless."

--Katelyn Maley, Team 2923, Washington State University, Class of 2014, Civil Engineering, winner of a University of Washington/Boeing FIRST Scholarship

 "FIRST provided with me a project where I could apply what I knew.  I wasn't just learning something and memorizing it, I was actually getting practical experiences that have definitely been useful to me today.  I also gained a better understanding of robotics, inspiring me to pursue my newfound interest in engineering and computer science."

--Saagar Deshpande, FTC Team 3415, Harvard University,  Class of 2014, Computer Science and Biology, winner of a Laboratory Robotics Interest Group - John Morin Memorial FIRST Scholarship

"FIRST Robotics provided me with an opportunity to work in a professional setting with engineers.  It was through these experiences that I learned to work efficiently in group settings under pressure which led me to finding a lab position at Roche Pharmaceuticals freshman year of college.  It was the generous scholarship of Raytheon that allowed me to balance school and work so that I don’t have to overwork myself to pay my way through college."

--Kyle Beranek, FRC Team 269, University of Wisconsin Madison, Class of 2013, Biochemistry, winner of a Raytheon Company FIRST Scholarship

"Before joining robotics, I wanted to be a doctor. After three years, I completely altered my life goals. I realized that I loved to create and apply my skills in science and math in the real world. My FIRST Scholarship made it possible to attend one of the best biomedical engineering universities in the country. Thanks to FIRST , I am now able to follow my dreams."

--Ajmeeta Sangtani, Team 451, Case Western Reserve University, Class of 2014, Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Chemistry, Winner of a Case Western Reserve University FIRST Scholarship and a Raytheon Company FIRST Scholarship

"FIRST gave me the opportunity to be involved in an organization that was both academically challenging and so much fun. Because I was a senior on the inaugural team I was only able to participate for one year, but my team means so much to me and I try to stay as up-to-date as possible on their activities even though I can't be there. My FIRST scholarship has lessened the financial burden of college and has enabled me to further my studies of the science courses I enjoy most."

--Jennifer Caldwell, Team 3164, University of Florida, Class of 2014, Microbiology and Cell Science, winner of a Raytheon Company FIRST Scholarship

"Of all the things that a student can do to prepare for earning a degree in engineering, I would say participating in FIRST is easily one of the best. Nothing will prepare a future engineer better than participating in a competition that simulates a real engineering setting. Not only is it beneficial in terms of technical knowledge and interpersonal communications, it one of the few extracurricular activities that can actually pay off in terms of monetary value!  Earning an ASU SMECA FIRST scholarship is keeping me out of debt so I can focus entirely on my studies."

--Cameron Noe, Team 39, Arizona State University, Class of 2014, Bioengineering

"FIRST prepared me for the rest of my life by teaching me how to efficiently manage my time.  Compared to building a robot in six weeks, college is easy!  I encourage anyone with any interest in a STEM major to see what FIRST has to offer them."

--Stephen Spence, Team 868, Purdue University, Class of 2014, Mechanical Engineering, winner of a Raytheon Company FIRST Scholarship

"Receiving a FIRST scholarship really made my dreams come true. I decided as a junior in High School that I wanted to go to Kettering and I never would have been able to without the FIRST scholarship. I learned so much as a captain on my robotics team and now I’m continuing that learning experience in college as a mentor. Receiving a robotics scholarship really encouraged me to continue as a volunteer for FIRST once I graduated. I believe that it keeps me motivated in school and at work to be the best that I can be. It gives me something to prove every day, to prove that I deserved that scholarship. FIRST is about more than just robots, and I am proof of that. It is about helping others and being the best you can be. I am a mentor for three different robotics teams, a volunteer, a student, and an employee. Without FIRST robotics I never would have been challenged and I would not be where I am right now. The FIRST scholarship I received pushed me forward and helped me begin conquering a whole new set of challenges. I am a business major, which many people would say has nothing to do with robotics, but I’ve found that every robotics team is its own business and receiving a FIRST scholarship from Kettering gave me a boost into a great business program where I can continue to help other teams find the funding they need to create successful programs."

--Robyn Thurston, Team 2619, Kettering University, Class of 2015, Business Administration

"The first year we had a FIRST Robotics team at my school, I was too intimidated to join.  I said, "There’s no way I can build a robot!"  At the end of the year, I was able to see the robot run, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  I still wasn’t sure how I could help the team though.  A team mentor approached me and asked me to consider programming.  I had never thought about that!  Someone has to make the robot run.  I enrolled in a computer science course that day.  I became a part of the programming team, helped develop code for the robot, participated in a regional competition, and applied for the FIRST Robotics scholarship at VCU.  FIRST introduced me to computer science and as a result, I chose it as my major.  When I got the scholarship, I knew that VCU was where I wanted to go to school to study computer science."

--Taylor McCorkill, Team 2890, Virginia Commonwealth University, Class of 2014, Computer Science

"I can't tell you how thankful I am to have taken part in FIRST robotics. From programming in LabView, designing the complexity of the robot to computer networking, FIRST Robotics is the whole package model of how real world companies create electronic products. It’s not just in the creation of the robot but the entire team such as the Design Team, Public Relations and subsets that brings together a very successful robot. At FIRST Competitions I learned this and was not only impressed but it ultimately decided what college I chose. At NYU-Poly, FIRST is big here and I can take a major I like and expect to have my Biology teacher teaching as if a cell were a mechanism, like a feedback system for the body, and it all makes sense! What a once in a lifetime experience, if you haven't experienced it, you can't go wrong by going FIRST !"

--Stanley P. Soman, FRC Team 2476 and FTC Team 4017, Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Class of 2014, Biomolecular Science, winner of a Polytechnic Institute of New York University FIRST Scholarship

"The FIRST Scholarship I acquired was very beneficial in helping me attend the college that I wanted.  MSOE, being a private institution, is by no definition of the word cheap, so every bit of money helps me to graduate from my first choice of school and major.  The time management and organizational skills I learned while participating in FIRST have been invaluable in College."

--Andrew Faulkner, Team 2077, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Class of 2014, Software Engineering,  winner of a Milwaukee School of Engineering FIRST Scholarship

"For the past 4 years I have been a member of team 2272 from the Conejo Valley in Southern California. Being on this team helped me to go from knowing very little about robotics and electronics to feeling comfortable designing and building complex robots as a team. During the competitions and being on the floor while our robot was performing its functions is truly an epic experience. Not to mention when our robot broke and it took the teamwork and ingenuity skills gained during previous years to make out robot functional again, ready for the next challenge. I do not think I could have had such an amazing experience in any other program but FIRST."

--Kevin Jordan, Team 2272, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-AZ, Class of 2014, Electrical Engineering, winner of an Embry Riddle Aeronautical University-AZ FIRST Scholarship

"...I love everything about robotics; in fact, it was my experience with FIRST that led me to deciding upon Electrical Engineering as a major.  After my first visit, I knew Bradley was where I wanted to be [for college].  After my second visit, I knew I wanted to live on campus.  Living near Bradley made it more cost efficient to live at home and commute but I wanted the full college experience and my FIRST scholarship helped make that possible.  I have met many new friends, attended tons of campus events and have participated in many new activities I might not have been able to if I stayed at home.  FIRST is not only a rewarding experience for high school, it is a jumpstart to getting a college degree." 

--Aaron Pfalzgraf, Team 2040, Bradley University, Class of 2014, Electrical Engineering, winner of a Bradley University FIRST Scholarship

"Being on a FIRST Robotics team was a great experience and a lot of fun.  I have wanted to build a robot ever since I was 5 years old.  FIRST helped me fulfill this dream and taught me a lot -- from programming the robot to raising money to support our team.  It was amazing to win Regionals and go to Nationals.  Being successful under pressure-packed situations gave me confidence that typical school activities never could.  Now the FIRST Scholarship is making it possible for me to attend a top-rate school with a great robotics programs."

--Zane Hintzman, Team 1584, Carnegie Mellon University, Class of 2014, Computer Science, winner of a Raytheon FIRST Scholarship

"The FIRST program was one of the best choices that I made in High school, I honestly wish I had joined my school team years earlier than I did. The knowledge and experience I gained from the program was unbelievable and the scholarship I was awarded for my involvement made it possible for me to attend the college I am. Without the scholarship I truly don't believe I would have gotten the opportunity to attend Clarkson University, and if I hadn't made the choice to join team 3044 I would have never ended up where I am now. If anyone were to ask me if they should or shouldn't join FIRST and said they were interested in technology I wouldn't hesitate to tell them to join."

--Conor Giambona, Team 3044, Clarkson University, Class of 2014, Mechanical Engineering, winner of a Clarkson University FIRST Scholarship 

"Before participating in FIRST I didn't know what I wanted to do in college really, when it came time to choose my major during my senior year my experiences in FIRST made it easy to pick electrical engineering. The financial support that Dr. Ira A. Fulton has given me through SMECA (Science Math and Engineering Competition Award) has allowed me to focus on learning through classes and research in The Biodesign Institute at ASU and the Center for Solid State Electronics Research (CSSER) at ASU. Now after completing my first semester at Arizona State University I can easily say that the skills and experiences I learned in FIRST definitely helped me achieve a 4.0 GPA in college. I would highly recommend high school students to both participate in FIRST and apply to FIRST scholarships, they will surely feel that the time investment is well worth it."

--Abhishek Jay Dharan, Team 2134, Arizona State University, Electrical Engineering, winner of an Arizona State University FIRST Scholarship (SMECA)