In a study done in 2009 by the Institute of Education Science, U.S. children were ranked 17 in the world in science when compared to other developed nations. These statistics are troubling to many Americans, but Garmin engineers have been proactive in trying to improve this statistic. In 2007 Garmin engineer Chris L. began volunteering with FIRST, an organization whose goal is to inspire young people’s interest in science. Chris and about 12 other Garmin engineers are devoted to mentoring kids involved with FIRST.
What sparks these engineers to add volunteer time to an already busy week? Chris L. sees “value in getting children of the future excited about science. We need more engineers in the U.S. and education and mentorship is my way of helping to make a difference.” Garmin engineers are trying to make a difference in the science industry, but so is Garmin International. Since 2007 when Chris L. and other engineers started volunteering, Garmin has continued to increase their funding to the FIRST robotics competition to help develop interest in science and engineering.Currently, there are are dozen Garmin engineers who are giving of their time and knowledge to high school students from the Kansas City area competing in the annual robotics competition. Within the last month, FIRST robotics competition had their kickoff at Garmin Headquarters where 60 teams came to learn what this year's game would be. Each team represented one school from the Kansas City area and one team even had up to 75 students on it. Each team was given a box of metals, gears, motors and other useful materials needed to build a robot weighing close to 120 pounds. The building phase takes place over a 6-week period. After the kickoff at HQ, six teams stayed at Garmin to receive help and mentoring from four of our engineers. They spent the day creating the basis for the robot in the Garmin facilities and had the opportunity to be around others who were also interested in science. All teams involved will compete at the Kansas City Regional competition, which will be held at Hale Arena, March 14-16. Best of luck to the teams and may the best 'bot win!