Mentors Spread a Passion for FIRST
Though they have never competed before, students on the Angleton High School FIRST Robotics team in Texas prepared for their inaugural competition in April with a surprising secret weapon: Dow employee LoongYi Tan and a group of expert mentors.
Tan, an engineer for Dow in Freeport, Texas, is the professional team leader for Team Juggerbot, the Angleton High group. He and 12 others – 10 of which are Dow employees, are helping the students during their first season, which begins with a regional competition in Houston.
“When I was growing up, there were mentors who made a big difference for me,” Tan said. “I wanted to do the same thing – share the joy of science with students so that maybe they would someday pursue a career in science.”
FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – engages more than 400,000 students around the world who compete in four, age-based divisions of competition. The Juggerbots participate in FIRST Robotics, which challenges high school students to design, build and pilot a robot through a specific challenge.
After years of informal commitment, in 2015, Dow became an official FIRST strategic partner, offering an expanded financial commitment, along with a pledge to support 150 new teams and to pair each new team with a Dow employee mentor.
“The students do all of the work. As mentors, our job is to challenge their assumptions, encourage them to think creatively, cheer on their successes and persuade them to overcome their failures,” Tan said. “The kids love it. They would stay there and work on robotics all night if we let them.”
This spring, FIRST teams have a chance to win up to $5,000 through the “Shaping the Future Video Contest.” For more information or to enter, go to the contest Facebook page.