FIRST Robotics Alumni

May 12, 2017

I’ve been involved in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) robotics for 14 years ever since I was in middle school. I started out as a participant, moved on to be a volunteer, continued to volunteer as a judge at tournaments and then continued to volunteer as a Member of the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization that runs FIRST robotics in my home state. This semester, I launched an alumni association for our organization so that students state-wide could keep in touch with the program, give back by volunteering or mentoring, and connect with other alumni. I wanted to tell you a little about what I’ve been up to and what I’ve learned so far about starting new groups.

First (no pun intended), it’s a slow process to build participation and engagement. You may get a lot of sign-ups initially but to have active members, it helps to organize events both in-person and sometimes even online, like a webinar.

Second, whatever online presence you choose, be clear, consistent, and show enthusiasm. Send emails or update the Facebook page at the same time every week. Be clear about events that are happening and how to sign up. Be enthusiastic about small successes and highlight those who have been getting involved early on in the group.

Third, if you’re starting a group on-campus, then leverage all the possible funding sources you have as a student club to get some capital for advertising and providing important things like free food at your events.

USC even offers a merit-based scholarship program for undergraduates who are alumni of FIRST programs. If you’re a FIRST robotics alumnus/alumna at USC and want to re-connect with other alumni or stay updated on what’s happening in alumni networks, reach out to me and I’ll find the closest alumni association to you! If you’re an alumni who wants to stay involved in robotics or even a student who’s interested, then here’s how you can get involved in robotics at USC:


  • Clubs: USC Aerial Robotics, Robogals USC, USC Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Formula SAE
  • Classes: CSCI 445, CSCI 545, and others I’m sure but these I know off the top of my head
  • Labs: Dr. Maja Mataric, Dr. Gaurav Sukhatme, Dr. Jerry Loeb and others

Published on May 12th, 2017

Last updated on January 20th, 2021