FIRST in Southern Indiana (or lack thereof)

In my part of Indiana, the Lousiville area, FIRST ceases to exist. No FLL, FTC, FRC, or anything. In fact, I’m the only person on the Indiana side of the area with a FIRST background.

And I’l like to change that.

A bit of background about myself:

I’m currently a sophomore at Purdue’s college of technology @ New Albany, studying Electrical Engineering Technology.

As I high school student, I spent 3 years (2008-2010) on team 1747 in West Lafayette, IN. The area was full of FIRST, with 3 Local FRC teams and many other FLL/FTC teams during that time period.

However, when my dad got a new job with the VA in Louisville (later New Albany), my hopefully 4 year career with 1747 was doomed to be shortened to 3. I moved to New Albany, only to find that the only traces of FIRST was on the Kentucky side of the river. As luck would have it, there was an “open” team, 2783, that allowed me to join and get the 4th year of FRC I wanted. I even mentored for a month after graduation, until political issues (outside the scope of this thread) terminated that. I currently volunteer at FRC events throughout the year.

One would think that with the Presence of FIRST in the Louisville area and Indiana’s rich FIRST roots, the area would be chocked full of teams and support. However, the opposite is true; Southern Indiana is currently a FIRST wasteland without anything FIRST at all.

I’ve tried to get some support from the Kentucky teams, however, due to the fact many of thier sponsors are Kentucky only, the motivation seems almost exclusively to support Kentucky teams, not the nearby neighbors in Indiana. Likewise, with the nearest Indiana teams over an hour away, it seems almost like this part of the state has been forgotten by the rest of Indiana. It’s not just sad, but in my eyes, appalling.

As a College student with a somewhat busy routine, I by myself cannot make the changes needed to fix this problem.

What I can do is offer my experience, knowledge, and zeal for FIRST. Heck, I’d love to start and be head mentor of a new team. And most of all, to spread the wonders of FIRST to an area with lots of potential for FIRST to grow.

What I’m asking and looking for advice on is:

  1. If anybody just happens to know of somebody else looking to spread FIRST in my area, I’d like to join their cause.

  2. How would be best to find someone else (read: sponsors and the like) to join my cause.

  3. Where would be a good starting point in this challenge?

A good way to begin would be to work with elementary and middle schools to start JrFLL and FLL teams to help create “the pipeline” to FRC by inspiring students with STEM at an early age.

Also, if you haven’t already, check around your school for other interested students or FIRST alumni. College students play a key role in the survival and functionality of many FRC teams.