Best Practices
July 30, 2014

Boeing Bridges STEM Gap with FIRST® Partnership

A recent Brookings Institution report found that high-value science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills sought after by employers are quite scarce relative to demand. The report also found that job openings for STEM positions take longer to fill than openings in other fields. So what can corporations in need of qualified workers do to fix this problem?
Boeing recognizes this predicament and has set out to create a solution.  
In 2008, Boeing officially partnered with FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to encouraging young people to become science and technology leaders. Based in Manchester, NH, FIRST designs innovative programs that help young people build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating them to pursue opportunities in the STEM field.
Through its partnership with FIRST, Boeing employees serve as mentors and prepare students for possible future careers by instilling an appreciation for STEM while fostering collaboration, problem solving, creativity, and effective communication skills. In addition, Boeing provides both financial support and volunteers.
“We support FIRST because it inspires students to achieve their goals and gain the critical skills and experiences needed for a successful future,” said Lianne Stein, vice president of Boeing Global Corporate Citizenship.  “FIRST engages students by applying math, science and technology in a meaningful way, while giving employees opportunities to mentor, share their knowledge and to serve as role models for these aspiring young students.”
Designed to inspire the next generation of engineers, the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®), one of four programs in a Progression of Programs offered by FIRST, matches Boeing employee mentors with student teams as they design, build, and test robots before competing against students from around the region and also around the world. Each year, during an intense six-week period, Boeing mentors help more than 200 student teams prepare to compete in regional events. 
Since 2008, Boeing has been an official FIRST Strategic Partner and supported nearly 850 FIRST teams with funding and active participation from employee volunteers. In addition, Boeing employees volunteer their time to judge competitions and provide critical support to the teams during the build and competition phase.
“Boeing employees have long supported programs like FIRST because they can share their knowledge, while inspiring the next generation of students to pursue STEM-related education,” said Stein. 
Many students join FIRST knowing little about the electrical and mechanical concepts needed to build a robot. Over the course of the school year, the adult mentors walk the students through the building process and provide a connection between what students learn in the classroom and how it is applied in the real world. 
“Students learn the importance of teamwork, creativity, collaboration and strong communication, which are all skills that will help them prepare to successfully contribute to the workforce and society,” said Stein.
For more information about FIRST, visit their website.