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Building Robots, Shaping the Future: UTC Celebrates 21 Years of FIRST Robotics Sponsorship

Daryl Marvin, Senior Director, Innovation at Otis and UTC Climate, Controls and Security, stands with First Robotics master of ceremonies Eric Eckhardt.
FIRST Robotics student Shaqeeb Momem of team 1241, THEORY6, was named the recipient of the Dean’s List award.
Students on the UTC-sponsored, all-female team the Wirecats. The team was the First New England All-Girls Team To Compete At World Championships.
Team 839 Rosie Robotics and senior mentor Dana Henry, UTC Aerospace employee, standing at their station during the New England District Championship in Hartford, Connecticut.
UTC-sponsored team 4055 Gearheads celebrating during the New England District Championship.
Teammates on team 2876 the Devilbotz working together to make some quick fixes to their robot during the New England District Championship.
Members of UTC-sponsored team 1124 UberBots prepare their robot for the playing field at the New England District Championship in Hartford, Connecticut.
UTC-sponsored team 1501 THRUST happily accept their award in the Archimedes Sub-Division at the World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
Students on the all-female team the Wirecats, express their excitement during the New England District Championship in Hartford, Connecticut.
A teaching moment captured between mentor and student for UTC-sponsored team 180 S.P.A.M. during the World Championship.
Team 1241 THEORY6 prepares for competition at the World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri. The team clinched the number 1 seed in the Newton Division.
Yeti Robotics, Team 3506, was awarded the Chairman’s Award at the North Carolina FIRST Robotics District Championships.
UTC had 43 FIRST sponsored teams compete at the World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.

Fueled by a passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), more than 250 employees across UTC’s businesses volunteered their time, talent and expertise to FIRST Robotics teams around the globe as they prepared for this year’s competitions.

The season began in January, when high school teams hustled into an intense six-week period of robot-building. The goal was to construct a robot that would compete at local and regional FIRST Robotics competitions, and hopefully advance their teams to the UTC-sponsored FIRST Robotics World Championship, which took place April 27-30 in St. Louis, Missouri. Providing mentorship during the six-week construction period and through the competitions, UTC mentors dedicated countless hours to ensure their teams’ success. 

UTC was the title sponsor of the 2016 FIRST New England season, which included nine competitions held in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. In those states alone, UTC supported 136 teams through grants and employee mentors. Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems provided additional event sponsorship for several competitions taking place in West Palm Beach, Florida; Columbus, Georgia; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Full Circle with FIRST

Many UTC employee volunteers are FIRST alums aiming to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM, just as they were inspired themselves. Andrew Hall, Pratt & Whitney F135 SE Fleet Manager, became involved with FIRST Robotics in middle school, and continued throughout high school. "I was always interested in science and technology, and once I joined FIRST I was hooked," said Hall.

At the same time Andrew Hall joined the program, his father Ted Hall, also a Pratt & Whitney employee, began volunteering. “I found it to be an interesting program because it introduced very young students to a lot of things about science and engineering that they normally wouldn’t be involved with," said Ted Hall, Pratt & Whitney Manager, Hot Section Engineering – Turbines. "Nothing is pre-built, so the kids really need to learn how everything works."  

Andrew Hall credits his experience with FIRST in helping him pursue his "dream of working at Pratt & Whitney." Today, both Andrew and Ted Hall are mentors for a UTC-sponsored team, the Techno Nuts. 

While Andrew Hall was able to take his FIRST experience full circle, Ethel Walker School student Morgan Locandro’s experience is just beginning. In her second year as a member of the UTC-sponsored Wirecats, an all-female team, Locandro says Coopertition® is one of her favorite parts about FIRST. “When you’re having a hard time, other teams come and help you, and you do the same for them," said Locandro. "Everyone makes sure they can see the best version of every team." 

Coopertition, a term coined by FIRST, is founded on the concept that teams should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete. Implementing philosophies like this demonstrates the commitment to building more than robots – there is a strong emphasis on professionalism, teamwork and communication skills.

Robot Inspector Sees Students Turn to Leaders

Exhibiting these traits and more, Gary Dillard, Principal Engineer, Hot Section Engineering at Pratt & Whitney’s Huntsville, Alabama, site, volunteered at the World Championship as a robot inspector. Dillard has been a FIRST mentor for 19 years and was recently awarded the Woody Flowers Finalist Award, presented to an outstanding mentor and leader. 

Dillard explained his favorite aspect of FIRST as "the growth that you see in the students in four years as a result of your influence and taking in everything you’ve shown them hands-on, and the lessons they’ve learned.” Dillard added, “when the students get to their senior year, they’re leaders."  

2016 marks UTC’s 21st consecutive year as a supporter and sponsor of FIRST. This year, through team grants and employee mentors, UTC supported more than 200 teams in 25 states and in three provinces in Canada. Since 1995, UTC has contributed more than $7 million to FIRST. Partnering with FIRST reflects UTC's belief in the power of innovation to solve the world’s most complex problems and its commitment to STEM education and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists.

UTC Teams at World Championship

Congratulations to the 43 UTC-sponsored teams that competed in the World Championship.

Team Number

Team Nick Name

125

NUTRONs

175

Buzz Robotics

176

Aces High

177

Bobcat Robotics

179

Children of the Swamp

180

S.P.A.M.

181

Birds Of Prey

191

X-CATS

195

CyberKnights

228

GUS Robotics

230

Gaelhawks

236

Techno-Ticks

558

Elm City Robo Squad

771

SWAT

839

Rosie Robotics

999

MechaRAMS

1073

The Force Team

1099

DiscoTechs

1124

UberBots

1241

THEORY6

1311

Kell Robotics

1325

Inverse Paradox

1501

Team THRUST

1640

Sab-BOT-age

1991

Dragons

2064

The Panther Project

2067

Apple Pi

2202

BEAST Robotics

2634

The Gryphons

2846

FireBears

2974

Walton Robotics

2980

The Whidbey Island Wild Cats

3015

Ranger Robotics

3352

Flaming Monkeys 4-H Robotics Club

4103

Roborioles

4188

Columbus Space Program

4290

Bots of War

4519

King's Mechavaliers

4761

The Robockets

4910

East Cobb Robotics

5422

Stormgears FRC

5546

A.R.T.

5686

Wirecats