KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NNS) -- Sailors attached to Navy Recruiting District (NRD) St. Louis attended the two day annual FIRST Robotics Regional Competitions in Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., March 14-15, recruiting highly motivated individuals in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
FIRST (For Inspiration of Science and Technology) Robotics was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. The Navy operates at a high level of technology across the full spectrum of its missions. To maintain this technological base, its recruits need to reflect a STEM workforce able to contribute to a culture of innovation.
"STEM related conferences such as First Robotics are excellent opportunities to meet with not only students who represent the best and brightest but also with educators, business professionals, and parents and instill in them the idea that the Navy is STEM," said Jon Dickson, NRD St. Louis' Education Specialist. "It is through these events that we have the opportunity to reach out and highlight the Navy as a viable technology-based career option."
Sailors manned the Navy booth, answering questions the competitors and their families had about STEM related technology used by the Navy such as unmanned aerial vehicles and explosive ordinance disposal robots. In Kansas City the recruiters engaged with participants highlighting the Navy's new STEM tour during the competition.
"These are the same skills that the Navy utilizes for building teamwork: planning, repair, troubleshooting, and the students are used to the stress in this environment. By allowing us to get in front of the best and brightest, this will spark interest to help improve recruitment of enlisted and officers," said Electronics Technician 1st Class Marmaduke Simms, NRD St. Louis' nuclear field coordinator.
"This will improve the competence of our future sailors by finding someone already used to that environment and high expectations. In the Navy, these Sailors are more likely to succeed in the initial schooling and when they go to the fleet."
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).
"Seeing everything that goes on here today I think that the students here are very high quality, seeing the effort and technology that it takes to building these robots, these are the kids that the Navy would be looking for as far as the Nuclear program and special programs like advanced electronics, these are very high quality kids," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handling 1st Class Jason Nelson.
Each year the teams have to raise funds, devise a "brand" and work on teamwork skills to build robots that can accomplish specific tasks better than their opponents, all with limited resources, time and under strict rules. The winners of the regional competitions will move onto the FIRST World Championships held in St. Louis in April.
"It's amazing how far these kids have come in four years. And I'm not just talking about how much they've learned in a technical sense per se, but more on how they improved their leadership, organizational, and teamwork skills," said Ivan Engeman, a mentor from the Lee Summit North School.
Navy Recruiting District St. Louis' area of responsibility covers more than 200,000 square miles, encompassing Missouri, Kansas, Central and Southern Illinois, and a portion of Kentucky. More than 250 officers, enlisted, and civilian staff operate 54 recruiting stations, two Navy Officer Recruiting Stations and the headquarters. Additionally, two Military Entrance Processing Stations - one at the headquarters in St. Louis and one in Kansas City, Mo., - handle applicants' processing, classification, and physical examinations.
For more news from Navy Recruiting District St. Louis, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrdsl/.