FIRST Robotics

Learn about how Molex and Phillips Medisize employees are supporting FIRST Robotics.

Name: Stanley Zee

Job Function: Innovation Program Lead

How long have you been working here: 6 years

How did your FIRST Robotics experience help you in your career? As a student participating in FIRST Robotics, it gave me the first-hand experience on deciphering needs versus wants, communicating technical ideas, and managing engineering and financial resources. Later as a mentor in college, I gained the skill to facilitate large groups of people who have their own ideas. 

How did your FIRST Robotics experience provide you with personal fulfillment? From going to Atlanta for the Worlds Championship Event to starting FIRST teams in Auckland, New Zealand, I have gotten the chance to travel the world because of FIRST. FIRST gives opportunities to high school students that aren’t normally available.

Name: Tim Eke

Job Function: Mold Manufacturing Manager

How long have you been working here: 23 years

How did your FIRST Robotics experience help you in your career? FIRST is certainly focused on students learning new skills. At the same time FIRST helped me learn as a mentor. It is great to learn new technologies with students. I took a Java programming class from a sophomore. This just goes to show learning never stops!

How did your FIRST Robotics experience provide you with personal fulfillment? Participating in FIRST provided me with an optimal opportunity to give back. I highly recommend parents and FIRST alumni to become a mentor. Seeing the transformation of students is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had! 

Name: Alan Han

Job Function: R&D Engineer

How long have you been working here: 2 years

How did your FIRST Robotics experience help you in your career? It exposed me to the world of engineering prior to college, which influenced my direction in college and beyond. I was only on Media Team during my time on Team 3061, but because of FRC, I ended up joining the MATE ROV team at Purdue. This led me to pick up a lot of the skills that ended up helping me stick out as an applicant! Everyone that goes through school takes classes, and most higher education institutions typically prepare students for academia and not always for industry. Through that lens, the stuff you do outside of school is equally, if not more, important.

How did your FIRST Robotics experience provide you with personal fulfillment? Since FIRST is typically expressed as a school club, it gave me a sense of community and access to richer resources than an individual could get, let alone a high school student with no income. It was great to work in a team dynamic, and I think in the long run, I feel very fulfilled just from the initial exposure I had to technologies such as 3D printing! I didn’t care at all back then, but I now have 3 printers at home, and occasionally work with printers at work. I recall attending a 3D printing club info session Freshman year of college, and got my first 3D printer sometime in Junior year. That initial exposure was crucial to getting the ball rolling. My entire worldview has been changed by a deeper understanding of how things are made, since at the end of the day, our society is human made.

Name: Jeremy Odegard

Job Function:  Human-Centered Design Manager

How long have you been working here: 18 years

How did your FIRST Robotics experience help you in your career? I did not participate in FIRST robotics as a student, but I became involved as an adult coach when my daughter’s (pictured here) elementary school principal asked for volunteers to start a club.  I partnered with another parent, purchased some equipment, and worked with a team of interested students.  We taught design principles, physics, scientific method, and basic programming.  Our team competed in a regional FIRST Lego League (FLL) tournament and the students were very excited to continue with the program.  During the next 5 years, we expanded the program within our school district.  Today, there are 2 FLL teams at elementary schools and 4 FLL teams at the middle school.  Some of our students have advanced to the Wisconsin State tournament for the past two years.  As a coach, I was able to hone my communication and leadership skills.

How did your FIRST Robotics experience provide you with personal fulfillment? It has been rewarding to help students to collaborate with their classmates and solve problems in creative ways.  Good things happen at the intersection of Art and Science.  It is fulfilling to know that lessons learned through Lego League will strengthen my students’ personal character and technical skills.

Name: Kris Sielski

Job Function:  Firmware Engineer

How long have you been working here: 2 years

How did your FIRST Robotics experience help you in your career? Building robots under FIRST has exposed me to problems and situations not normally encountered in my career.  The knowledge and skills I have gained has directly correlated to increased options when designing solutions to practical problems at work. Furthermore, the robotics competitions are always good for honing troubleshooting skills and problem solving under pressure. 

How did your FIRST Robotics experience provide you with personal fulfillment? I’ve been lucky by having excellent mentors when I was a young engineer.  I feel it is therefore my duty to try to be a positive influence and mentor to the next generation of engineers. It is very gratifying to see students grow throughout their high school journey and especially when they finally get that concept they have been working hard to try to understand.

Name: Sarah Aust

Job Function: Design Project Engineer

How long have you been working here: 5 years

How did your FIRST Robotics experience help you in your career? I was not involved with FIRST as a student but began participating as a mentor for a Lego League team about 15 years ago when a coworker was looking for help to keep the program going at local elementary schools.  After a long break, last year I reached out to my son’s school about starting a team, offering funding from Phillips-Medisize and to volunteer as a coach.  Providing support to the kids to facilitate their learning and accomplish their goals utilizes many of the project management skills I use in my career.

How did your FIRST Robotics experience provide you with personal fulfillment? The opportunity FIRST provides for kids to use STEM and experience working together to solve real world problems is amazing.  I really enjoy being involved and believe it’s important for this type of program to be available.  I find helping kids to discover their potential and to be motivated to do great things in the future to be very fulfilling.