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FIRST Robotics— Rose-Hulman Alumni recall how FIRST impelled them toward Exciting Engineering Careers

April 3, 2013

By Dale Long, Director of Media Relations

FIRST Milluzzi

FIRST Robotics—an Inspiration for Rose-Hulman Alumni
toward Exciting Engineering Careers

A sensory overload...that's how FIRST Robotics enthusiast Andy Milluzzi described the experience of witnessing hundreds of high school students, engineers, and technicians working together in a unique educational experience.

Yes, FIRST Robotics is much more than a robotics competition. It can be life- and career-changing experiences for those involved.

"Walking into a FIRST Robotics event is unlike anything else. From the music to the crazy costumes to the six-foot-tall robots, it is sensory overload," says Milluzzi, a veteran FIRST Robotics volunteer. "There is always something to do. It's go, go, go."

Milluzzi, a 2012 Rose-Hulman alumnus, has been fascinated by robots since childhood—like many FIRST Robotics enthusiasts. He was the youngest LEGO MINDSTORMS Community Partner in the world, has created several LEGO-based robots, and served as a FIRST Robotics volunteer. Now, he is enrolled in a robotics doctorate degree program at the University of Florida.

Milluzzi passes along some advice for persons planning to attend this year's Crossroads Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at Rose-Hulman on April 4-6:

"If you have never been to a FIRST Robotics event before, bring a camera and make sure you have spare batteries and memory cards. Last year, I saw robots stack and then balance on the bridge in the middle of the playing field (for the Rebound Rumble game)," he says. "When the first alliance completed that goal, the entire crowd went wild."

FIRST Colin

Inspired By FIRST Robotics: Colin Shipley, a 2010 mechanical engineering alumnus, is a former FIRST Robotics participant. He turned his interest in robotics into a career as an engineer for St. Louis-based Bastian Robotics.

Milluzzi adds, "As an engineer, it was inspiring to see thousands of people cheering on robots and students, much like what you would expect at the Super Bowl…FIRST provides a suite of parts and software to get the teams started, but that spark quickly grows in a competition ready robot. It is simply amazing to see what these teams do."

Colin Shipley, a 2010 Rose-Hulman mechanical engineering alumnus, was inspired by FIRST Robotics to become an engineer. He now works at Bastian Robotics, in St. Louis, and helps inspire members of two Midwest FIRST Robotics teams.  

"Where I am today is directly linked to my involvement with FIRST Robotics in high school," he says. "FIRST showed me how much fun engineering and robotics could be, and inspired me to follow a career in engineering."

Shipley had a childhood love of LEGOs and K-Nex. He joined the high school robotics team and quickly found himself helping design the team's robot.

"FIRST sparked my passion for robotics, and helped me find my interests and make great friends," Shipley states. "The people you meet in FIRST are a different breed. They are the future engineers and scientists that will shape the technological landscape.  They are also our future web designers, artists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders."