Mechanical or Electrical

I am a former FIRST student who is studying EE, do most students from your teams go into ME or EE or CS? We are trying to figure out why most people at Oregon State go into ME from FIRST and if it is a trend around the country.

Nate Edwards

We have a rather high number of students go into computer or mechanical. A fewr number go into Electrical, but I really think that it is due to the stringent design criteria for electrical in the game. Our electrical students are showing some interest in recent years but in the beginning, mechanical had a significant lead throughout the first 6 years of the team.

I think maybe part of the reason that most FIRST students on FIRST teams go after ME degrees is because the FIRST program lends itself more towards mechanical design than it does towards the electrical stuff.

Most of the electrical stuff on the robot is off the shelf or included in the KOPs. If we had to design our own control systems, our own sensors, our own Victors and spikes… that would be different.

By contrast, FIRST provides a KOP frame and drive train, but all teams end up designing some kind of extended frame, manipulators, ball collectors and shooters…

The FIRST program requires the mechanical team to really get into it, you must, you have no choice.

For the electrical team everything you need for a basic robot, including sensors and control, is given to you. I think as a result FIRST teams tend to become more mechanically oriented.

I left out SW, which can go either way - you can build a really fine robot using the default code, or you could re-write all your code from scratch and have you robot do some wonderous things.

But to answer your question, due to the nature of the challenge I think FIRST has the strongest attraction for mechanically inclined students (and mentors).

I know FIRST is intended for students to go into engineering but FIRST has taught me that engineering is not for me. I fell in love with photography and animation and I’m going to pursue a career in that area.

Actually, it was founded to increase high school student’s interest in science and technology, which would include things like animation, that being technology. That is also why FIRST includes things like the Autodesk and Website competitions, for the students who enjoy things like that more.

Back on topic, I agree with Ken. FIRST, while it does want to nourish student’s interest in all fields of science/technology, leans more towards the mechanical/software side of the spectrum when dealing with the actual machine. I’m sure there are a few participants who have played around with some wiring and things, but interest in mechanical engineering seems to be the largest outcome of FIRST.