Mustang High School’s Robotics program honored sponsors Thursday with a gathering in the school’s dedicated robotics room.
Coach Matt Moore said the program has taken off since FIRST robotics was introduced in 2011. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen. More than 460,000 students competed worldwide in 2016-2017.
Tinker Air Force Base has supported Mustang High School’s program for six years.
“We have two grants this year as a direct result of our partnership with Tinker, the DoDSTEM grant for $3050 and a National Defense Education Program grant for $2000,” Moore said.
The partnership also led to a new mentor, Loren Lutz, a 1983 graduate of Mustang High School, who is the propulsion chief engineer at Tinker.
“We have Mr. Lutz as a mentor, working directly with our students and giving them invaluable experiences learning from a STEM professional,” Moore said.
Leidos, a government contractor that works with the Federal Aviation Administration, is a new corporate sponsor for 2017-2018. Leidos employee Bryan Estabrooks, father to Patrick, one of the students in the program, will become a mentor in January. Leidos provided a grant of $2,500.
Other sponsors include Boeing, who is supporting the program for the second year. Boeing granted the program $4,325 toward registration fees for FIRST FTC (First Tech Challenge) and FRC (First Robotics Competition). This is the fifth year for Xerox to support the program as a corporate sponsor. Xerox granted the program $5000 this year alone.
“We have 46 students actively involved in robotics this year. This includes, FTC, FRC, and Unified Robotics. Our original robotics club was founded in 2000 by five students. Mustang participated in BEST robotics from 2000 through 2010 with four to eight students involved each year. When we started FIRST Robotics in 2011 we had 12 students at our initial meeting. Participation in FIRST breathed new life into the club, and soon it began to be more than just a club,” Moore said. “Having a space that is dedicated to robotics has really been a boost to student participation. Now with FIRST robotics programs at the elementary, intermediate, and middle school levels in our district, I anticipate even more growth in the future.”