ST. LOUIS (NNS) -- High school students gathered for the 11th annual Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition St. Louis Regional, March 23-24 at St. Louis University Chaifetz Arena.
FIRST is an active mentoring-based program in which subject matter experts inspire students to learn through the application of sciences and technologies.
"This is a terrific program. The kids you meet at any FIRST event are all 'high end' students - exactly the kind of talent we are looking for," said Cmdr. Clay Mason, executive officer of Navy Recruiting District (NRD) St. Louis.
This year, NRD St. Louis sponsored the Hazelwood Central High School "Robohawks" and is planning sponsorships of more St. Louis and Kansas City area teams.
"Sponsoring and working with local area teams shows the Navy is proactive in helping develop the future researchers and leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)," said Lt. Timothy Raines, assistant operations officer Navy Recruiting District St. Louis. "We want people to think of the Navy when they think of STEM."
More than 40 teams from Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois competed in the weekend event. Each team is comprised of 15 to 25 students, professional engineer mentors, and teachers.
Students learn mechanical fabrication, business, and team-building skills according to Michael Benjamin, a Hazelwood Central High School FIRST mentor.
"The FIRST organization is helping to inspire students to do more than play sports but to learn Math, Science, and technology." said Engineman 2nd Class Nathan Royalty, Navy recruiter.
While attending the competition, students also obtained information on the area's top colleges including scholarships offered through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC).
"This is an opportunity for high school students to learn about NROTC scholarships and how they can go to school and gain valuable experience," said Royalty.
The FIRST Championship will be held at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, April 25-28.
For more news from Navy Recruiting District St. Louis, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrdsl/.