The Power of Apprenticeships - Alumni Spotlight
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
By FIRST North Carolina
Pin It

Alumni Spotlight
Chad Robinson

What team were you a member of?

I am an FRC 4935 T-Rex alumni.

Where do you currently work?

I am a fourth year apprentice at Siemens Energy. I have represented the Siemens apprenticeship at the White House in a roundtable meeting with President Trump and Chancellor Merkel of Germany, I was awarded a full scholarship to travel to Germany in order to study the language and work for Siemens, and I will complete my education with a degree in Computer Integrated Machining, Business Management, and German completely debt free.

What are some skills you learned from your FIRSTexperience that have made an impact on your current job?

I have had many opportunities in the early stages of my career thanks to FIRSTand T-Rex. The skill set that FIRSTinstilled in me is why I have accomplished what I have thus far in my career. Being on the team gave me the most real-world experience I could get in high school. I was able to operate on different machinery (drill presses, band saws, bridgeports), worked with CAD models, made business calls, brainstormed marketing promotions, and worked first-hand with employees at Bosch Rexroth. I was able to experience what is was like to work within an actual business. That is something I could not get in any other program at school. FIRSToffered me the chance to gain valuable work experience that better prepared me for my future.

How has FIRSTimpacted your life?

I would not be where I am today without FIRSTand T-Rex; it provided me with so many networking opportunities. We worked hand and hand with various companies that were mentors, volunteers, and even sponsors. That is how I was able to get my foot in the door with Siemens. My social and soft skills were cultivated throughout my tenure with T-Rex. We had to come up with a business plan for our robot and present that to our mentors, judges and even to other teams. Having T-Rex and FIRSTin my life impacted me in ways I could never imagine and I cannot express enough gratitude to the mentors that provided us with wisdom and knowledge, my fellow members for bringing out the best in me, and the sponsors who provided us with this unique opportunity.

Call for Volunteers
Tuesday, February 05, 2019
By FIRST North Carolina
Pin It

You can touch the future 
and change the world!


March Madness for robots is coming up quickly and we are getting ready to launch the FIRST Robotics Competition event season.

Do you like hanging out with really cool high school students?

Do you enjoy networking with inspiring people from all across the state?

Do you like making a positive difference in the lives of young people?

If you answered yes, please join us as a volunteer.  Volunteers are still needed at all five events.

Our motto:

We promise to feed you, to clothe you (free t-shirt!).  And we guarantee to entertain you!

Details on what positions you can fill can be found here.
Event dates and locations are here.

See you for Destination: Deep Space in March!

Team Spotlight: FRC 1225 - The Gorillas
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
By FIRST North Carolina
Pin It

Team Spotlight

FRC 1225 The Gorillas

This month we shine the spotlight on FRC 1225, The Gorillas. Based in Hendersonville in Henderson County, this is one of our western teams in the mountains!

Tell us in 2-3 sentences about your team.

FRC 1225, The Gorillas, is the oldest team in Western North Carolina.  We have team members from all of the high schools in our county. Our home is the rehabbed basement of the local Boys and Girls Club, which we turned into a full blown robot building workshop after forming a collaborative partnership between The Gorillas, Henderson County Public Schools and The Boys and Girls Club.   

What has been a highlight for your team over the years?

One of the biggest highlights was winning the 2015 North Carolina Regional Championship.

Tell us about one struggle your team has overcome and how you did so.

The biggest struggle, other than funding and recruitment, has been transportation. Being a team based in the mountains has meant the travel to competitions is usually a several hour drive toward the Triangle or other areas of North Carolina.  The Gorillas overcame this struggle with the purchase of our very own charter bus. Now when we need to travel, we get in the bus and go! No need for us to find a fleet of minivans and truck to pull the equipment trailer. Because of our bus, we have played in FRC competitions outside of in Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia in addition to North Carolina!

What words of wisdom would you give to a rookie team?

Befriend a veteran team with lots of supplies and awesomely friendly mentors.

What does FIRSTmean to you and your team?

FIRSTis a conduit for youth (and adults) to explore career paths they may not have otherwise considered. Students get to live the life of an Engineer, Programmer, Business Manager, Tool Designer, Machinist, Program Manager, Marketing/Promotions, Welder, Assembly Tech, Fabricator and many more careers under the guidance of local professionals before committing to years of study in that field. This is the best “test drive” of a career any student could get while in high school. FIRST is also a team building program that brings students from all walks of life together to work toward a common goal and provides endless leadership opportunities for each of them. We believe FIRSTis the conduit to a successful life for our students!


Sponsor Spotlight: Collins Aerospace
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
By FIRST North Carolina
Pin It

Sponsor Spotlight


We are excited to welcome back Collins Aerospace as a Leader in Technology Sponsor! They have been a tremendous supporter since 2013. Collins Aerospace not only sponsors FIRSTNC and our many events, they also provide mentors and financial support to numerous FIRSTteams across the state.

Not familiar with the name? You may recognize this instead - UTC Aerospace Systems.  UTC Aerospace Systems and Rockwell Collins recently combined to become Collins Aerospace. As they state on their website, "Together, we are redefining aerospace."

Did you know that Collins Aerospace is a FIRSTStrategic Partner?  Their engagement extends all the way to the top with Kelly Ortberg, CEO of Collins Aerospace, serving as the Co-Chair of the national FIRSTBoard of Directors.  Here in North Carolina, Kevin Gordon, Sr. Director for Advanced Technology, serves as the Chair-Elect for the FIRSTNC Board of Directors. Amazing leadership to guide a strong partnership!

Collins Aerospace states, " The anchor of our K-12 education outreach programming is our partnership with FIRST.  Our partnership includes team and tournament sponsorships, teacher training and rewards, and employee and retiree involvement.  Our educational initiatives offer students of all ages the opportunity to take part in experiences designed to go beyond textbooks and place learning in their hands."

A career at Collins Aerospace is possible for all FIRSTalumini. Check out some of the opportunities here.


Alumni Spotlight: John Tinker
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
By FIRST North Carolina
Pin It

Alumni Spotlight
John Tinker

What team were you a member of and for how many years were you on the team?

I joined FRC 2642 Pitt Pirates during the 2009/2010 season and was with them for 4 years. I first learned about the FIRSTprogram through my sister who attended NCSSM and was part of FRC 900 Zebracorns.

Where do you currently work and what is your job description?

I majored in Mechanical Engineering at ECU in Greenville.  I did an internship at Hyster-Yale in Greenville.  I now work at Crown Equipment in Kinston, NC as a mechanical engineer. This company designs and makes makes palette trucks and forklifts. The teamwork and especially communication skills I learned in FIRSTgave me the confidence and experience to go straight into the workplace!

How long have you been working there?

5 years

What is one highlight from your time on the team?

I loved driving all the robots! It was intense but the best experience of the program. It was fun working with other teams to strategize how to be successful on and off the field. I thoroughly enjoyed helping with all the outreach we did each season. In 2012 we were chosen be in the 1st seed alliance and went on to win the NC Regional Tournament. This opportunity allowed our team to travel to the World Championships for the first time. That was the best experience of my life! 

What are the top three skills you learned from your FIRSTexperience that have made an impact on your current job?

The FIRSTprogram encouraged me to attend ECU and pursue a degree in engineering. Through the program, I developed leadership skills and learned how to work cooperatively with team members. It also gave me the hands-on skills that prepared me for college. By learning how to use SolidWorks in high school I received the practice necessary to be successful in several courses in the engineering program.

How has FIRSTimpacted your life?

I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to pursue originally but my experience with the FIRST program gave me the confidence to major in engineering. During college I wasn’t as involved as much with the FRC program. However, this year I am officially a mentor with the Pitt Pirates in the engineering area. I wanted to pay it forward with what I gained from the program.

What words of wisdom do you have for current FIRSTers?

FIRSTis the hardest fun you will ever have. To rookie drivers just relax and have fun. Don’t let the stress get to you. Stay focused and work with your alliance! During the competitions I made awesome friends and it was an incredible feeling having the crowd cheer you on.