Upcoming FIRST® Championship an opportunity for STEM-gifted young people to learn about potential career paths in automation
Approximately 30,000 young people from around the world are projected to gather in two US cities in late April to participate in the 2018 FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship.
The annual championship—which celebrates excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), innovative thinking and teamwork—takes place 18-21 April in Houston, Texas and 25-28 April in Detroit, Michigan.
The event, culminating months of regional qualifying competitions involving K-12 students, features three separate robotics competition championships—the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship (grades 9-12); the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship (grades 7-12); and the FIRST LEGO League World Festival (grades 4-8)—as well as the FIRST LEGO League Jr. World Festival Expo (grades K-3).
The showcase event is the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), where finalist teams enter robots they have designed, programmed and built in detailed, demanding contests against like-minded competitors. More than 4,100 teams of high school students, ages 14-18/grades 9-12, throughout the world participated in FRC events this year.
As strategic alliance partners of FIRST, the International Society of Automation (ISA) and its umbrella organization, the Automation Federation (AF), actively support FIRST’s educational programs and mission, and encourage more young people to pursue careers that fully utilize their STEM skills and interests.
Practicing automation professionals will be available at the Houston event
to answer questions about the automation profession
A select group of practicing automation professionals—volunteering on behalf of ISA—will be present during the FIRST Championship Innovation Faire in Houston (at Exhibit #128) to meet with FIRST competitors and their family members, and to answer any questions they may have about career opportunities in automation and engineering.
“I invite all FIRST competitors to come by our exhibit and learn about the many rewarding, exciting and well-paying careers in automation and engineering,” says Steven Pflantz, an electrical and automation engineer and ISA and Automation Federation leader who has routinely attended and supported FIRST Championship events.
Pflantz, the 2017 ISA President who now serves as Chairman of the Automation Federation, insists the experience will be informative.
“You’ll find out what automation really is all about, what an automation professional really does, and discover the best educational and training paths to follow in order to become one,” he explains. “You’ll get direct insights—first hand, from working professionals in the field—about what automation jobs are really like. Who better to talk about these types of careers than the people who are actually in them?”
In simple terms, automation professionals create and apply technology to control and monitor the production of goods and services. Automation professionals are needed in virtually all areas of manufacturing and industrial innovation, including:
- Oil, wind, and solar power production
- Pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing
- Food and beverage manufacturing
- Computer software and networking
- Industrial cybersecurity
- Government, military, and national defense
- NASA and space programs
- Automotive production, including professional racing
- Amusement parks and entertainment, including roller coaster and ride design
The need for automation professionals far outpaces available supply
The time is right and employment trends are favorable for students interested in careers in automation and engineering. The reason? Demand for qualified employees in these fields far outstrips availability.
For example, the manufacturing sector in the US employs nearly 12 million people (the equivalent of 1 in 6 private sector jobs) and supports almost 5 million more jobs. However, five percent of manufacturing jobs remain unfilled due to a lack of skilled candidates. By one estimate, the US alone will need more than 120 million workers with advanced manufacturing skills by 2020. At the current pace, America will prepare less than half of that number.
“The good news for young people who are capable in STEM fields is that there are a lot of career options relating to automation,” reports Pflantz. “These are well-paying careers that are very rewarding. They give young people the opportunity to invent, explore and create new ways of making our economy, our society, our world better.“
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering.
With support from more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and nearly $25 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in grades 9-12; the FIRST® Tech Challenge for grades 7-12; the FIRST® LEGO® League for grades 4-8; and the FIRST® LEGO® League Jr for grades K-3. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.firstinspires.org.
The International Society of Automation (www.isa.org) is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for those who apply engineering and technology to improve the management, safety, and cybersecurity of modern automation and control systems used across industry and critical infrastructure. Founded in 1945, ISA develops widely used global standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; hosts conferences and exhibits; and provides networking and career development programs for its 40,000 members and 400,000 customers around the world.
ISA owns Automation.com, a leading online publisher of automation-related content, and is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation (www.automationfederation.org), an association of non-profit organizations serving as "The Voice of Automation." Through a wholly owned subsidiary, ISA bridges the gap between standards and their implementation with the ISA Security Compliance Institute (www.isasecure.org) and the ISA Wireless Compliance Institute (www.isa100wci.org).
About the Automation Federation
The Automation Federation is a global umbrella organization of twenty (20) member organizations and seven working groups engaged in automation activities. The Automation Federation enables its members to more effectively fulfill their missions, advance the science and engineering of automation technologies and applications, and develop the workforce needed to capitalize on the benefits of automation. The Automation Federation is the "Voice of Automation." For more information about the Automation Federation, visit www.automationfederation.org.
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