Here at DNSimple, we love automation. While we haven't found a reason to build and operate robots as part of our domain automation infrastructure, we're involved in local robotics competitions through Team Voltage, the robotics team from Melbourne High School, here in Melbourne, Florida.
Each year, tens-of-thousands of students, teachers, mentors, and volunteers invest a major amount of time and effort in helping build and program robots for local, regional, and national FIRST Robotics competitions. This year Team Voltage won the Orlando regionals and earned the honor of traveling to Houston, Texas in April for the Houston FIRST Championships. DNSimple is one of several companies stepping up to help support Team Voltage, and we've committed funds as a sponsorship to help get the team to Houston.
To illustrate the importance of sponsoring engineering competitions like FIRST, here's an essay written by a Voltage student about the value of sponsorships:
Our robotics club is a living, breathing machine. It is in constant need of support and attention to keep growing and evolving. Through the generous donations of our sponsors, we are available to buy the necessary equipment needed to keep our club functioning, to build this year's robot, and to financially support the trips we make. We put over 150 hours each into the robot every year, and all our blood, sweat, and tears (I'm not even kidding about the blood) helps create something unique and powerful. We experience the stress and joy of watching our robot compete against other teams from around the globe, just like a parent watches their child. And sometimes, just sometimes, we create a robot exceptional enough to make it to the World Championships in Houston, which is the case for this year's robot. This is where the challenges of financing a trip for 60 students becomes a reality but also the dreams and hopes of students reach unprecedented heights as we are able to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete against the best robots the world has to offer.
While funding our team does take an enormous amount of resources, it also gives back an enormous amount to those who need it most. In an education system where we the students are measured by our ability to comply with rules and regurgitate information, robotics clubs give us an outlet for our creativity and provide us hands on experience that we would otherwise not be able to experience. Activities such as wiring a circuit, using power tools, managing a team, all of these things would be out of our reach without the opportunities provided by the club. Many of the students who join the club consider it to be their family for their time in high school and often have nowhere else to go. They develop fond memories that stick with them for the rest of their lives and are often inspired to pursue a career in mechanical, electrical, or software engineering. Many students even come back years later to mentor the next generation of thinkers and builders. So at the end of the day, the money is not a marketing tool, it's not a bargaining chip, it's an investment in the future of students to live a better life.
Wherever you are in the world, I urge you to seek out the engineering clubs at your local schools – from elementary through high school – and support them with your time and, when possible, your money. Hands-on engineering activities are invaluable for encouraging the next generation of mechanical, electrical, and software engineers, and they need your help. Visit FIRST Inspires and learn how you can get involved. And if you're going to Houston, we'll see you there!
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