FIRST Alumni: How's College Going?

After seeing this thread and other “Where are you going to college” threads, I’m curious to hear where everybody ended up, and how things are going! What year did you graduate high school? What College/University are you going to? What is your major? What clubs/activities are you doing in college? Have you done any internships? What have you done to stay involved with FIRST? Anything else you’d like to say about your years following high school!

I could see this thread turning into a good tool for high school students doing their college research.

Cool thread!

I graduated from high school in 2015, and started attending Clarkson University last fall. Since then I’ve had an internship at BAE systems but im looking for more in the next few summers.I’m a mechanical engineering major at Clarkson and I started mentoring team 229 my freshman year. Going into my sophomore year I’m one of two lead college mentors for the 2017 season. I’ve also been playing in a few sports leagues while at school.

Above all else, your grades and health at college come first. How much you do FIRST and how much you try new things is up to you, both are fine. Just don’t be the college mentor that still acts like a student.

I graduated from college this past spring: mech eng degree with comp sci minor. I had a few internships and now have a full time career in software development, and have avoided the specter of student loan debt.

After high school, I went from being a team member, to mentor for 2 years, to lead mentor for 3 years and still ongoing. It might not be for everyone to mentor their team, but it has worked well enough for me.

I graduated in 2013, and am going into my senior year at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. I’m currently a Mechanical Engineering major with minors in both Robotics and Computer science. I interned for Andymark during the summer of 2015. I sort of realized (a little too late) that I enjoy programming, so instead of finding an internship this summer, I opted to take classes to squeeze in that Computer Science minor while still graduating on time. I’m still debating whether I want to change that minor to a major, which will probably require a full 5th year of school.

In terms of FIRST involvement, I helped found 5188 in 2014 and served as the lead mentor for 2015 and 2016. I’m stepping back my involvement this year, hoping to get more into volunteering. I was also member of the midwest chapter of NAR (along with Nick Coussens of 2451 and Spencer Tickmen of 1747), a VEX U team consisting of FIRST and VEX alumni from all around the country.

In terms of other extracurricular activities, I decided to rush and joined the Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) Fraternity, where I served on the executive board as Treasurer. I’ll also be a de facto member of the Rose Efficient Vehicles team which competes in Shell Eco-marathon, as my senior design project is to develop a new transmission for the car.

I’m a rising sophomore at RPI double majoring in computer science and mathematics. College is fun; it’s a great place to make new friends and try new things, yet also stay involved in FRC. I decided to take up fencing, and next semester I will be an officer in the Fencing and Computer Science clubs. I was a TA for Computer Science I last semester. I’m one of a few RPI students who mentors 2791, in nearby Latham. I did not intern this summer, though I will stepping up my internship hunt for next summer.

If anyone has any questions about RPI or FIRST in the NY capital region, feel free to send me a PM.

Going into my Junior year at the University of California, Irvine for Computer Science and Engineering (Almost a 50/50 split of CS and EE). I have had a two pretty cool internships and have mentored 3476 (Code Orange) in both 2015 and 2016.

I don’t regret mentoring, but it is very tough doing it while working and trying to get decent grades. If anyone is on the fence about mentoring while going to college, don’t rush into it. Take time to be in extracurriculars, make new friends, and do well in school. If you still find something lacking, by all means go mentor.

Starting my Junior Year at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona for Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Mechanical Engineering.

Since starting college, I’ve had two amazing internships. One through my connections with FIRST mentors in the area and the other based off my skills I learned with design.

I’ve been a mentor for Team 3476: Code Orange since June 2014 and am currently the head mechanical mentor for the team as well as a design mentor. I also am on the Orange County Regional Planning Committee as well as the Beach Blitz 2016 Director.

Mentoring in college is very tough, I don’t think it’s for everyone, and to the extent my fellow mentors in college might be a tad insane.
It’s always gratifying seeing students faces when they have a great idea, win a match, or have their design work. I would not give it up for anything.

In college I’ve been active in formula sae, the robotics stem program, and the cal poly pomona hyperloop team.

With that, its hard to prioritize grades, but I cannot stress the importance more. GRADES will land you a lot of things along with your experiencing and connections.

Repeating Saikiran a bit but,
Don’t rush into mentoring, enjoy college and make new friends, robotics will be there anytime. Mentoring is not for everyone in college, but it might be!

While I haven’t started college yet and posted on the other thread, I’m starting my freshman year at University of Wisconsin- Madison and thinking of Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering at the moment. Signed up for freshman courses and I’m excited as heck.

I just finished orientation 2 weeks ago and planning to join Wisconsin Robotics, Club Racquetball (cause I’ve been playing Racquetball for a while now during High School), and Club Table Tennis. I’m gonna need to step up my time management skills cause there is so much to do in college!

As for FRC, I’m taking a break to focus on college and just thinking of just volunteering at MN/WI events. I’ll for sure be able to volunteer at the Wisconsin regional or the Iowa regional since it’s during spring break… volunteering at MN events might be tough since I may have to miss lectures/labs, but I’ll for sure be able to volunteer at the MN state championship which will take place mid may.

I’m already on the look out for summer internships for 2017 and will attend career fairs across campus to talk to companies looking for summer interns. I’d appreciate any strategies in addition to networking with professionals that work to get internships early in college. I’m already in the FIRST alumni group on LinkedIn so that might help with opportunities.

I graduated High School in the Spring of 2013. In High School I worked to help found my Robotics Team, 3946 Tiger Robotics, which I’m proud to say has since flourished and ultimately changed the culture and mindset of STEM at my High School. Now, I’m currently going into my 4th year at Louisiana Tech University, majoring in Computer Science Major with a concentration in Cyber Security.

My Freshmen year I volunteered with 3468 MAGNATech for the 2013-2014 Season since i otherwise had the time. Unfortunately because of increasing responsibilities I’ve pulled back from FIRST since and become more an observer, keeping up with what I can from my Father (GeeTwo on CD) who is still a Mentor for 3946.

I have been participating in a 2-year “Mentorship” program since April 2015 for an IT consulting firm called Fenway Group. I currently work as an Associate Consultant in DevOps for Southwest Airlines as a Contractor. Its a wonderful opportunity as those you interact with outside of Fenway don’t know you’re a student, and as such you are treated the same as anyone else, learning and taking on more responsibility than a regular Internship. Networking, Developing Skills, Potential certifications, and benefits galore.

At Louisiana Tech I have also taken on several roles in clubs close to me. Currently I am an officer in the following:

  • President for The Association of Cyber Engineers
  • Secretary for the Episcopal Canterbury Association
  • Praetor of Tabletop Games for the Conclave of Sci-fi and Fantasy

I have participated in various events has they have come up, granted some were required for classes, including:

  • Cyber Storm, A day-long hacking competition as a final exam for Intro to Network Security, where my Team, Forge, worked together to achieve 1st place.

  • Engineering Design project for the Freshman Engineering Program (I used to be In LaTech’s Cyber Engineering Major) where our team turned professors heads with a phone GPS controlled rotating directional Wi-Fi dish to allow you to get reception at ranges of 1-mile+. For the glory of a Fast-Food gift card.

  • The IEEEXtreme 24-hour programming competition where my team did reasonably well, and had a blast working on challenges and finally understanding the need for measuring complexity in our code.

  • The Louisiana Tech Robotics Competition were my team’s best-design entry of a Camera targeting Nerf Sentry won 1st place after many tired nights of dealing with servos, fly-wheels, and OpenCV python.

  • The 2014 Major League Hacking, Nation-wide Hack Day at LaTech, where I implemented joystick accessibility and assignment for the DriverStation.js application (Cross Platform Open-Source FRC DriverStation), which later turns into paid contract work for 221robotics’ OpenRobot platform DriverStation (whom I unfortunately have been unable to work with since due to time constraints with my current job and classes)

At this point, I know I seem like I’m being egotistical (And to some extent I am. I am proud of my achievements and the time I put into them.), however, I do have a point with all those “extras” I listed out.

When it comes to University in the last 10-15 years, I believe that three things matter most:

  1. Health
  2. Development
  3. Grades

I’m sure the order on the last two would be debated by others, but I feel confident in my listing. My GPA isn’t the best (2.98). I make sure I am doing good in my classes and working hard to get my degree, but University has turned into so much more than just coursework and a degree. I’ve seen companies turn someone with a 3.8 GPA down in favor of another with a 2.8 GPA because the latter showed teamwork, leadership, and creativity in their extra-curricular activities. They mean something on top of just having the degree, and do wonders for keeping what little sanity you will feel you have left in check…

Granted, in order for the extra-curriculars to matter, you do in fact need to EARN THE DEGREE. Don’t let yourself get too over-whelmed, but make sure you are having fun and developing yourself, not just learning.

Perspective Post-College:

I graduated from high school in 2009 & ended up at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I majored in Aeronautical Engineering, and while I was there my extracurricular was AIAA Design/Build/Fly . We built an R/C airplane every year to compete in the AIAA sponsored challenge, but we built many other airplanes to entertain ourselves up in our lab. I spent the summer following my first year working at a local museum, mostly pushing paperwork for their annual classic car consignment auction. The summer after that I was an intern at Boeing Commercial Airplanes working in aerodynamics. I followed Chris Pinecone to approximately two 2791 meetings, but mostly just watched FRC from along from the sidelines.

After I graduated in 2012, I came back to BCA full time. I reached out to FIRSTWA & got connected with 1778, and now I’ve been here so long all the freshman from my first year on the team have graduated. If you take a break from FIRST in college, don’t worry about having a hard time finding a team to help out down the line. Anyone with questions about RPI/Boeing/Not doing FIRST in college/etc, shoot me a PM.

Another RHIT Student here. Going into the second of three-four years of college soon.

FIRSTly… Let me just say FIRST and living on a farm make mechanical engineering come second hand. And let you know of so many seemingly simple things that blow your friends’ minds (whoa, that’s how roller chain works? You mean motors don’t provide the same torque at all speeds? Whaddayamean you’ve been welding since you were ten? Voltage drop is a thing? Mutual inductance happens? How do you know ten programming languages? HOLY **** THAT IMPACT DRIVER IS LOUD)

I’ve been getting heavily involved in Formula SAE. In some regards it’s more fun than FIRST (Longer build span means more interesting and detailed parts, more room for optimization and validation, and heat, vibration, and noise are serious issues you don’t encounter in FIRST)… but in other regards it’s a little less (there’s a lot of room for creative solutions/optimizations, but the end goal remains constant). There should be a link in my description with what I’ve been up to…

Student design competitions at a college level are more funner though because there’s no pesky adults telling you to go home and get some sleep or do your homework ::ouch:: :yikes: I don’t see an issue with staying up until 5 working with the squad…

A lot of my buds have been trying to recruit me to mentor for 5188 but I don’t think I’ll be making the plunge. But I live in the BIC so it’s not like I don’t run into them and lend a hand on odd occasion.

I’m also supposed to be a Solidworks TA and a ME tutor this year so that’s cool

Remember kiddies, “stay in FIRST, kinda do school, eat your vegetables”

I graduated from high school in 2014 and am about to start my third year at Georgia Tech majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a focus in undergraduate research. After taking a semester off from robotics, I came back to mentor my old team in the spring of 2015, and as challenging and time consuming as it is to be a college mentor, it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. At GT, I’m involved in the GT1000 Team Leader program and currently serve on the advisory board. Outside of GT, I work in a biomolecular nanoengineering lab doing research on the biomedical applications of DNA origami. I also serve as the student director for Georgia BEST Robotics and a lead project judge at the regional and state level of FLL in Georgia.

Nice! I too went to RPI (graduated in 2008) and was a member of Design Build Fly 2006-08, ended up at Boeing as well (but in BDS southern California). Did participate in FRC in college, however, as part of the Introduction to Engineering Design class (IED) with Larry Ruff and then again as a mentor for Albany High School.

Funny how people end up following similar paths!

I graduated from Team 20 in 2014, and now I’m going into my third year at RIT.

I’m a member of the RIT Honors Program, I play ultimate in college, I started (then left :frowning: ) the RIT Battlebots team, and I mentor 5254 when I can.

I had an internship at Beech-Nut Nutrition between my freshman and sophomore years, and this past summer I took some summer courses to make my life easier while at RIT.

I also have a coop lined up for next spring/summer at Borg-Warner Morse in Ithaca, NY.

My FIRST experience has been enormously helpful in college, from being far ahead of many of my classmates in terms of CAD and machining skills, to interviewing with companies for internships and coops- talking about your first-hand experience with engineering in teams with enthusiasm in your voice is killer in interviews.

My piece of advice is to prioritize and not stretch yourself too thin. Last spring I was killing myself doing classes, Battlebots, FRC, ultimate, and still hanging out with friends, and I got sick a few times and my grades suffered.

You have to prioritize your schoolwork, even when there’s so much else awesome to do.

Graduated in 2015, just transferred to a new school. I’ll be in my second year of college. I’m not really sure what I’m doing right now, but it’s pretty far from STEM - I’m looking at cultural/ethnic studies. I wanted to go into Chemistry for two weeks and then I took precalc and there went that dream. I just finished a 12 week summer internship in the city I live in where I was placed in a public school office and did community event outreach.

My freshman year, I took a break from robots and volunteered at one event. This was probably best for my mental and physical health. My freshman year was my first time living away from home and it was a pretty weird transition on top of going to college and having to cook for myself. Being in FRC isn’t something you have to continue doing in college - I know plenty of people who didn’t. I’d strongly recommend taking a break. I was in a ton of student groups that were housed in my school’s Multicultural Center since thats where I felt safe. I plan to continue that at my new school.

I’m currently in between mentoring for two local FRC teams in the area on top of doing primarily FTC volunteering. I also got to participate in Ri3D which was super fun and recently gave a presentation on diversity/inclusion in robotics that went super well.

My advice: bad grades aren’t the end of the world. I had a really tough time transitioning from high school to college and ended the year with a less-than-stellar GPA. Take your time, retake classes in the summer if you have to have that dazzling above 3.5 GPA (or need the class), and withdraw a class if you have to. They give you that option for a reason. Also, minor in something fun! Take classes outside your comfort zone for your prerequisites - I took a Women’s Studies class for a credit on technology and it was super fun.

I graduated from FRC team 2903 in 2011 and then attended Illinois Institute of Technology. I majored in physics education and graduated with my degree and teaching license in May. While at Illinois Tech, I was heavily involved in two extracurriculars: Our collegiate robotics team and our student newspaper. I held an internship at a science museum for 4 years. I’ve also been involved in some way with the majority of Chicago FTC and FRC events since I moved here.

I did mentor for two seasons while I was in college. Myself and a friend started FRC 4551, which was a community team in the near southwest side of Chicago. It was a lot of fun, but it was stressful to run a team where the two primary mentors were college students; we ran out of funding after our second year and folded.

We’re happy that, during the time the team existed, we had a 50% match win percentage, won rookie highest seed, had a 50:50 male:female population, and all of our students went to college after graduating. Though difficult and almost a relief when we decided to not compete after 2014 when most of our students graduated, It was an incredibly valuable experience for me. As an education major, it allowed me to create experience that helped me in classes, student teaching, and now securing a job in a school where I’m helping out 2 FTC teams, 1 FRC team, and an FTC-focused class. I’m also completing my Master’s Degree in STEM Education this year.

If anyone has questions about Illinois Tech, majoring in physics or education, or becoming a teacher, feel free to message me!

Myself and a few friends are also currently starting the FIRST Illinois Robotics Alumni Association; FIRST Illinois wants to keep track of our alumni, and our group of friends noticed that a lot of our best friends are also alumni and we volunteer together and have a lot of fun together outside of robotics. We wanted to create a community where we can see where our alumni end up, host networking events, volunteer together, and generally make friends with other alumni, which has been really fun so far. If your an alumnus of an Illinois team or a FIRST alumnus living in Illinois, sign up here.