A student demonstrates features of robot inside a booth.

NNSS invests in next generation of STEAM leaders with FIRST Nevada

A student demonstrates features of robot inside a booth.

Students spanning the state of the Nevada — and the globe!  — took to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Thomas & Mack Center arena floor Saturday, March 30, to compete during the FIRST Robotics Las Vegas Regional and vie for the chance to showcase their capabilities at the FIRST World Championship next month in Houston, Texas. The NNSS is a proud “Leader in Technology” sponsor of FIRST Nevada.

FIRST, a nonprofit organization, engages the pre-kindergarten through eighth grade level through FIRST LEGO League, seventh through 12th grade level through FIRST Tech Challenge and high school level through FIRST Robotics Competition, inspiring students to apply science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) principles through its core values of discovery, innovation, impact, teamwork, inclusion and fun. With community support, the FIRST organization has reached nearly three million young people in 107 countries around the world.

For the 20th anniversary of the Las Vegas Regional, 45 student teams designed, built and programmed industrial-sized robots and joined forces with other competitors for a three-on-three-style tournament called CRESCENDO. Through autonomous and driver-controlled operation, the robots collected game pieces, called notes, into designated goal areas. FIRST events are born from the spirit of “coopertition®,” a term FIRST has coined to embody the kindness and respect teams provide one another in the face of competition.

“I’m really impressed by the commitment and the level of support from the community as a whole,” said FIRST Chief Executive Officer Chris Moore. “The student and adult mentors, the legion of volunteers, the partners and the parents all roll up their sleeves in support of the success of FIRST here in the state. What you’ve accomplished in the past 20 years growing this event to the size that it is is nothing short of outstanding. We have built a legacy in our ethos and in our culture in advancing this idea of gracious professionalism, which is a standard that we hold all our participants to and expect of ourselves in administering FIRST.”

MSTS President Garrett “Sack” Harencak with NNSS employees and guests

MSTS President and FIRST Nevada Board Member Garrett “Sack” Harencak spoke with FIRST students, mentors and stakeholders about the bridge between investing in the next generation of STEAM leaders and solving national security challenges at the NNSS.

“We are the largest employer in Southern Nevada of technical and STEM-related people, and we do it with FIRST Robotics alumni,” he said. “FIRST Nevada and FIRST Robotics are training the young men and women who are going to continue to secure the nation for our kids, grandkids and all of our families. That’s why we at the NNSS are all in with our support of FIRST Nevada.”

Four FIRST Robotics teams from Nevada will advance to the FIRST World Championship: the Cimarron Memorial High School “High Rollers” from Las Vegas; the Galena High School “Clawbotics” from Reno; the Desert Oasis High School “Cyber Vipers” from Las Vegas; and the Southeast Career Technical Academy “Pair of Dice Robotics” from Las Vegas. Representing Nevada at the FIRST LEGO League level is the Eagle Valley Middle School “Metallic Eagles” from Carson City, and the Virginia City community team “VC Silver Circuits” will take center stage at the FIRST Tech Challenge level.

“FIRST has really changed the way I see the world,” said a junior student from Desert Oasis High School. “I used to be very pessimistic toward anything with STEAM, thinking this isn’t for me. During my freshman year, one of my friends introduced me to FIRST and I was like, ‘maybe this will be my thing, maybe I can see what’s interesting about this.’ And then it just took off from there. FIRST has made me want to do something in STEAM. It made me believe that STEAM is for me — STEAM is what motivates me. It’s truly changed everything for me.”

Team “High Rollers” from Cimarron Memorial High School in Las Vegas

The CRESCENDO tournament at Thomas & Mack Center