Many participants of FIRST understand they have developed many skills when in the
program. From coding to mechanisms, team members understand the process of
development. These are qualities that make many FIRST alumni perfect candidates for jobs
within STEM industries. Having already experienced design, product development, and
team collaboration with a deadline of about two and a half to three months, many
companies find these students have found the necessary experience before entering the
workforce. Director of Advanced Technology, Dave Vasko, says that, “ I’m not looking for
particular experience as much as whether people can work collaboratively as part of a
team.” - a key skill to be successful in a FIRST competition.
With space missions underway, the popularity and funding for space travel has
dramatically increased within the past ten years, e.g. with the launch of Space X’s Falcon Heavy rocket. In addition, with NASA returning to manned missions to the moon, the idea to explore deep space has never drawn a greater audience since the space shuttle missions began in 1981. The difference? Today we are getting ready to explore and meet our next challenge: the Red Planet - Mars. This is the goal NASA initially hoped to achieve by the 2030s, meaning this is a task that is destined for our generation: Gen Z: The Mars Generation. We are a generation with the experience of FIRST robotics.
Gen Z: The future?
Gen Z is the future of space travel and we WILL be the ones who will achieve this wondrous
mission to Mars. Having been gathering and acquiring the necessary skills to accomplish
this mission, we are on our way to achieving this historic milestone. Even if there are strict
requirements to becoming an astronaut, such as: “a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics, followed by three years of professional experience (or 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet
aircraft)”(CalTech), this is all in addition to NASA’s “astronaut physical examination”. What
does this mean for FIRST participants? This means were are more than ready to take on the
next step in space travel. According to the Cal Tech Jet Propulsion Laboratory, starting a
robotics club at your school is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for, not only college,
but towards your goal of becoming an astronaut. Over 12,000 people applied between March 3 and 31, 2020 to join the next class of NASA astronauts. NASA is aiming to reveal the next class of astronauts in October or November 2021. The only thing left to wonder is whether we will be ready when the next call comes? Destination: Mars, nevertheless, WE WILL BE READY!