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Oregon FIRST Robotics advances expanded minds


High-tech content creates tomorrow's careers

The American educational model of today was, in many respects, developed in the 19th century, when the United States saw the need to prepare a workforce for the industrial revolution. The foresight to tie education to workforce was instrumental in powering America to become a world leader by creating a pipeline of employees that in turn created great national prosperity.

Today’s workforce needs are driven by digital, mobile computers, robotics and technology.

Students from Beaverton’s School of Science and Technology and Westview High School understand where the future jobs opportunities lie and are embracing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) studies — by building robots! — to prepare for the future.

At Portland’s Memorial Coliseum on Friday and Saturday, the Beaverton robotics teams will meet with more than 60 teams from Oregon and Southwest Washington in a tournament face-off of 6-foot-tall robots playing competitive frisbee golf. This is a big, bright, vibrant, raucous, exciting event that’s free and open to the public.

Come join the fun. Unlike other competitive events where spectators don’t have access to the athletes, at the AutoDesk Oregon FIRST Robotic competition, guests are encouraged to interact directly with these competitors. What better way than robots to get students excited about putting their technology passions and science studies into action?

Education is directly tied to Oregon’s prosperity. Understanding that K-12 is where true workforce development begins, it’s exciting to see Gov. John Kitzhaber and our elected officials make STEM education a legislative priority this session. Jobs forecasting data indicate there will be more than 44,000 computer jobs in Oregon by 2018 that will require a proficiency in computer systems, programming and technical skills. Programs like FIRST help ensure Oregon students will be the ones prepared to fill those jobs.

Please join us March 8 and 9 at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum to be amazed and entertained by frisbee golf-playing robots and the students who built them, learn more about this program and motivate your students.

Deb Mumm-Hill serves as Oregon FIRST Robotics Pacific Northwest director.