Parker Global

Parker Inspires Future Engineers by Supporting FIRST Robotics Program

Parker Inspires Future Engineers by Supporting FIRST Robotics ProgramParker has long supported the annual FIRST Robotics Competition with corporate sponsorships and product donations. Through this high school-level engineering education program, students are able to test their skills and theories in a variety of engaging interactions. Under strict rules, limited resources, and the guidance of volunteer mentors including engineers, teachers, business professionals, parents, alumni and more; teams of 25+ students have just six weeks to build and program robots to perform challenging tasks against a field of competitors. They must also raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and perform community outreach. In addition to learning valuable STEM and life skills, participants are eligible to apply for $25+ million in college scholarships.


Elm City Robo Squad FIRST Team

One example of our commitment to FIRST is the involvement of seven of our engineers from the Composite Sealing Systems (CSS) Division in North Haven, Connecticut in mentoring the Elm City Robo Squad FIRST team.

A team of engineers from the division volunteered their time and talents during the 2016 FIRST season, guiding their team of students all the way to the FIRST Robotics Competition World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri this past April where they placed as one of the top 16 teams worldwide.

It’s been quite a journey for the team and the Parker employees who helped them along the way. And it all started with one of the Parker mentors, Justin Foss, whose passion for FIRST Robotics actually led him to his career at Parker and who inspired his colleagues to get involved.

Parker inspires future engineers by supporting FIRST Robotics program | Justin Foss and Don Thomas with the Hartford Tournament winner’s plaque | Parker Hannifin Composite Sealing Systems Division“I’ve been involved with FIRST Robotics for more than fourteen years, starting as a freshman in high school and maintaining my involvement through college and my career as an engineer,” said Justin.

While Parker has been a large supporter of FIRST, Justin’s division had not previously been involved with the program. With the help of his supervisor Don Thomas, Justin was able to recruit several more engineers to sponsor and support their own team. 

“I love working with these students. It’s like coaching a sports team, but on an intellectual level. We coach our students on different tasks and skills – cutting parts, designing parts, managing a team- and teach them how to be successful."

Don Thomas, senior manufacturing engineer, CSS Division Parker Hannifin


Squad invests in 1 year commitment

The Elm City Robo Squad is different from many other FIRST teams in that the students are from the inner city and don’t necessarily have the same advantages that other students do. Having the support of Parker – financially and through our volunteers – gave these students an opportunity they otherwise wouldn’t have had. The team is also unique in that they continue their FIRST commitment throughout the year, working in the ‘off season’ so that the students can maintain their skills and stay involved.

“For me, it’s all about outreach and development. Through FIRST, we’re able to show students that being an engineer can be fun. We joke and have fun, but when it’s time to work, we get work done. FIRST gives students the opportunity not only to learn, but also to apply what they’ve learned in a practical way.”

Justin Foss, manufacturing engineer, CSS Division Parker Hannifin 

As Don observed, “The best part about St Louis was watching our students apply everything we taught them this year. It was amazing – and very rewarding - to watch them succeed.”

Parker Inspires Future Engineers by Supporting FIRST Robotics Program | FIRST team’s robot for competition | Parker Hannifin Composite Sealing Systems DivisionAnd succeed they did. In addition to their outstanding ranking at the World Championship, the Robo Squad ranked among the top 10 teams in New England. They also won a District Chairman's Award – the most prestigious award in all of FIRST – which is given to the team that most exemplifies the principles of FIRST and offers a model for all teams to emulate.




“We are so proud of our students and so appreciative of Parker for sponsoring us this year. And, with any luck, our work has helped create the next generation of Parker engineers. After all, the reason I’m an engineer – and the reason I joined Parker – is because of FIRST. In addition to being an outstanding program, FIRST is also a great feeder of talent for our organization.”

Justin Foss, manufacturing engineer, CSS Division Parker Hannifin 


Parker Inspires Future Engineers by Supporting FIRST Robotics Program | FIRST Team Award | Parker Hannifin  Composite Sealing Systems Division













Parker Inspires Future Engineers by Supporting FIRST Robotics Program - Don Thomas senior manufacturing engineer- Parker Hannifin Composite Sealing Systems Division

Article Contributed by Don Thomas (top), senior manufacturing engineer and Justin Foss (bottom), manufacturing engineer, Composite Sealing Systems Division, Parker Hannifin Corporation.





Parker Inspires Future Engineers by Supporting FIRST Robotics Program - Justin Foss manufacturing engineer - Parker Hannifin Composite Sealing Systems Division






Related content

Mentoring Program Delivers Lasting Benefits

How Engineers Helped Ohio State Win EcoCAR3 Phase 1

Engineering Graduate Program – The Experience of One Woman Launching Her Career

Team Member Spotlight: Jessica Mayhew, Division Sourcing Manager

Specialist Hydraulic Engineering Training: Early Lessons From The JCB Academy Partnership

Recent Posts by Author

Industrial Manufacturing Competitiveness Requires Strategic Investment

The industrial manufacturing landscape is transforming against a backdrop of uncertainty. The shifts taking place globally in technology, advanced manufacturing, and government policy changes have...

The Intersection of Hope and Purpose in China

For many of us at Parker, leading with purpose means identifying opportunities for making life better in the communities where we live and work. It acknowledges our strengths and aligns with...

Deploying a World-Class Maintenance Strategy Enables OEM Competitive Gain

Manufacturing and operations professionals are focused on how to deploy maintenance strategies that will provide advantages to their operations on a global scale. Advanced digital and...

Have a question about Parker products or services? We can help: Contact Us!

Comments for Parker Inspires Future Engineers by Supporting FIRST Robotics Program

Please note that, in an effort to combat spam, comments with hyperlinks will not be published.

Leave a comment