Rockwell Automation commits $12M to STEM effort

Four-year investment in FIRST organization to address critical need to inspire and train for today’s industrial careers

By Keith Larson

As a youngster, Jay Flores lived in the shadow of the iconic Rockwell Automation clock tower in Milwaukee, never dreaming what went on inside. Today he serves as the company’s global STEM ambassador, “the best job in the world,” he says.

A passionate advocate for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, Flores found STEM—and a career with Rockwell Automation—through his school’s participation in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the organization founded by Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

Despite the growing, industry-wide need for STEM-educated professionals, few companies would invest in a position such as Flores holds today. Even fewer would invest in FIRST to the tune of the $12M, four-year grant that Rockwell Automation announced this week at Automation Fair in Atlanta.

“Through our technology and people, we are helping to inspire the next generation of innovators to fill the talent pipeline for our customers and for our company,” said Blake Moret, president and CEO, Rockwell Automation. “Our strategic partnership with FIRST helps us increase our reach and visibility to STEM students around the world.”

In addition to being a global sponsor of the FIRST LEGOLeague program and sole sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award, nearly 200 Rockwell Automation employees around the world donate their time for the FIRST programs, and more than 300 employees volunteer for the organization in other capacities.

The company also donates products integral to FIRST program games and scoring. These product donations are specifically used for the FIRST Robotics Competition playing fields and scoring systems, and they are included within the parts kits teams use to build their robots.

“This generous, multiyear commitment from Rockwell Automation will allow us to focus on the strategic aspects of our partnership while continuing to help scale our programs and expose students to a broader range of industry-leading products and applications,” said Donald E. Bossi, president, FIRST. “The company has a long, rich history of supporting FIRST.”

Rockwell Automation is recognized as a FIRST Strategic Partner, which signifies the highest levels of sponsorship available at FIRST. It is also a FIRST Robotics Competition Crown Supplier.

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