We help give students their FIRSTⓇ engineering experiences

Michelle Hawley

Michelle Hawley, now an industrial engineer at Rockwell Collins, was recently honored at the FIRSTⓇ Orlando Regional event, which celebrated its 20th year by featuring program alumni. Click to enlarge

Michelle Hawley, an industrial engineer for Commercial Systems at Rockwell Collins’ facility in Melbourne, Florida, could have chosen anything as a career. As a high school student, her days were spent exploring options, trying new things and being a teenager.

Then, a spark. Hawley joined a local FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) team.

“They handed me a power drill and told me to go build. It was my first time handling tools, but I was completely hooked,” Hawley remembers.

What is FIRST?
FIRST is an opportunity for young people to learn important life skills and find their passion in science and technology. It has reached more than 533,000 students globally who have built nearly 45,000 robots for competitions and events.

Hawley said the opportunities FIRST gives to kids are second-to-none. “I personally learned about 3D printing and other advanced tools as a member of FIRST teams,” explains Hawley. “That really helped me out in college. I was an immediate asset because I didn’t need to be trained.”

Now, as a volunteer with FIRST, Hawley is helping today’s kids find their passion and their purpose. “There is nothing like the feeling of passing a new skill on to someone and seeing that initial spark take hold,” she says.

Rockwell Collins steps up
Rockwell Collins has a strong history with FIRST. More than 300 employees (about 1 percent of our total population) and retirees spend over 10,000 hours each year mentoring and volunteering for FIRST at locations around the United States. And Rockwell Collins has been the official program sponsor of FIRST Tech Challenge for over nine years.

In fact, the company recently extended its partnership and increased its three-year financial commitment to FIRST to $3.6 million, which includes the expansion of program support in North Carolina and Washington state.

“Our company’s success depends on a robust pipeline of engineering talent,” says Nan Mattai, senior vice president of Engineering & Information Technology at Rockwell Collins. “So, we’re excited to continue supporting programs like FIRST.”

More information about FIRST volunteer opportunities and how to find local teams is available from their website.

Story posted: May 9, 2018

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