Organizations and programs that allow companies to give back to the communities that helped build them are some of the most important and rewarding opportunities in the world. This is especially true when these programs foster the education and creativity of the next generation of young minds.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) (firstinspires.org) is a non-profit STEM initiative whose mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. FIRST coordinates different levels of robotics programs and competitions for K-12 students nationwide.
At the middle school level, the competition is the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), where students are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. And in the Fall of 2019, API had the privilege to sponsor FTC Team 15358 (The BalaBots) of Muir Middle School for their season. With API’s help the team was able to purchase new equipment, including a second robot kit, 3D printing materials, and programming computer, in addition to providing scholarship opportunities.
In the following 4-part video series, we document the BalaBots season from their design and testing phases with the robot to competition to their end-of-year awards and 2020 season planning. We look forward to following their progress in 2020 and beyond. GO BALABOTS!