New England Tech students enrolled in a skilled trade program may qualify for the mikeroweWORKS Scholarship!
(Yes, that Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs fame)
(Yes, that Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs fame)
Erin Flynn is the manager of admissions outreach and events and the New England Institute of Technology. Flynn has been employed at New England Tech for 25 years and also serves as the contact person for the RI FIRST Tech Challenge.
FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” and is a nationwide is a robotics competition for high school students.
Flynn, who holds a Masters in technical education as well as a Bachelor’s in communications from Rhode Island College, talked to Providence Business News about the upcoming FIRST competition taking place at New England Tech.
Can you explain a little bit about what the FIRST robotics competition is?
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).
FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, N.H., the charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills.
There are three levels of FIRST Robotics for Rhode Island students to get involved. Rhode Island FIRST Lego League, ages 9- 14. The Championship is this weekend at Roger Williams University with 60 RI teams. Once the students have “aged out” of Lego League, our hope is that students will continue on to the FIRST Tech Challenge. Currently, we have several students on multiple teams who have done this. The FIRST Tech Challenge is for students ages 14-18 years old. The teams are comprised of 10-12 high school age students and can be run through the high school, after school, or club team. High school students have the option to get involved with the third level FIRST Tech Challenge, of which there are five teams in Rhode Island.
New England Tech is serving its seventh year as the Rhode Island Affiliate Partner for the FIRST Tech Challenge and as a major sponsor. I serve as the point person for the college. I work with the high school educators and after school teams, the Rhode Island industry volunteers as well as the National FIRST Office. I ensure that all teams have the information they need, that Rhode Island industry volunteers are ready and well prepared, as well as coordinate all event details.
Rhode Island high school age students in the FIRST Tech Challenge compete head to head with robots they have designed. Each year the game or challenge changes. This year is the game RING IT UP.
FIRST is a great way for Rhode Island students to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers in a hands-on fun way. I like to think of this event as STEM in action! Rhode Island teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and is programmed using a variety of languages. Teams, including coaches, mentors and volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles. Awards are given for the competition as for well as for community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments.
How did New England Tech get involved with the competition?
NEIT got involved with FIRST seven years ago. U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin invited FIRST founder, Dean Kamen, to the Business Innovation Factory event to talk about FIRST. After Dean Kamen spoke about FIRST, then Governor Carcieri encouraged all the schools to get involved.
Through the Business Innovation Factory and other funding that NEIT was not involved with, the materials needed for high schools to get started in the FIRST Tech Challenge were purchased. The group needed someone to be the state FIRST Affiliate Partner and run the details of the program. My understanding is that Tech Collective suggested NEIT.
Part of my responsibility at New England Tech is to organize high school events. The college had hosted contests here in the past such as SkillsUSA and the Ocean State Automotive Contest. Our ability to organize the details of this type of tournament was what NEIT could offer. Once the initial funding for the project ran out, NEIT felt strongly that this event was important for RI high school students and took on the fiscal aspect.
The actual building of a robot seems like a tough task for high school students, how much adviser help is there?
The building of the robot is tough, but students can get through it. There is great on-line assistance for teachers, coaches, and mentors. I will also say that the coaches and mentors are in touch with each other and are great about offering support to one another. NEIT does host workshops for educators and students as needed.
One of the important lessons students learn from this experience is how to work on a team. Some students may be better designers, builders, or programmers. Within the team, the students are encouraged to take on various roles. Certainly the educators or parents involved do a great job with the teams.
Teams are encouraged to reach out and work with Rhode Island business partners, which are of great help! Individuals from Rhode Island businesses that specialize in Information Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, or Mechanical Design Technology can offer a team a different perspective. Rhode Island high school students meeting and discussing design ideas with Rhode Island industry professionals is a great connection to make.
As part of designing, building, and programming the robot, teams need to keep an Engineering Notebook documenting the process of building the robot. Teams will be judged on this notebook as well. Judges are looking to see what processes the teams utilized to reach their final design.
What is your favorite part of the FIRST program?
My favorite part of the FIRST program is when the Rhode Island high school teams are at the tournament, their nerves have worn off, and they are completely engrossed in the experience. The energy level, the crazy costumes and hats, the fun they have meeting each other all add to the event while they are making sure their robot is competition ready. The last match is like the Superbowl! It makes all the work worth it.
Why do you think programs like this one are important for high school students?
We know that high school students select careers based on what they know and what they have experienced. The FIRST Tech Challenge encourages the Rhode Island high school students to get involved with math, physics, programming, designing and building a robot in a fun, competitive manner. STEM in action!
Join New England Tech for an Open House Tech Nite on February 5, 2013.
Tour our campus, meet with the faculty that will be getting you ready for a new career.
Admissions and Financial Aid Officers will be here to answer all your questions.
New England Tech Electrical Technology student, Nicole, is breaking ground in what had been a predominantly male field – hear her story in this short video.
Sarah stayed home with her kids for years, but when it was time for a career to support her family she found New England Tech’s Plumbing and Heating Technology programs to be a good fit – hear her story in this short video.
Boys often dream of cars but the dream has become a reality for one young mechanic.
Andre Smith, 21, earned a spot as an apprentice mechanic with Rayclan Ltd and hasn’t looked back.
“Andre’s had to prove himself from the bottom of the barrel,” said company manager Sharon Davis.
The Pembroke auto dealership and repair shop gambles on hiring and helping to train promising young Bermudians, in the hope that they’ll stick with it.
Not everyone has what it takes, she warned. The apprenticeship programme is anything but an easy ride.
Explained Ms Davis: “While our model may seem a long, drawn out one, spreading over almost four years of on-the-job training and classroom work, it separates the young people with not only the interest but the willingness to put in the time and effort for success, from those who may only have a passing interest and who aren’t prepared for the long haul.”
Rayclan co-owner Daniel Greenslade puts it a little differently: “A lot of times we get boys whose mothers call us up asking for a job.
“Right off the bat, that’s a bad sign — they need to have the gumption to come in and say, ‘This is what I’m doing, this is where I’m going’.”
Andre graduated from Mount St Agnes Academy four years ago and knew he wanted to work with cars.
“I always loved cars,” Andre said. “I had all the Hot Wheels cars when I was young. I would draw cars and watch all the car movies.
“I was in school asking myself what I could do that related to cars. Being a mechanic was one option for the field.”
He learned of Rayclan through “word of mouth” and ended up shadowing Gil Santos, described by Ms Davis as “a very demanding, tough-as-nails senior mechanic”.
Andre decided to put off college courses and focus on accruing experience. It turned into 18 months’ work.
“A lot of people come into this trade thinking it’s going to be easy or fun,” said Andre. “I wanted to make sure it was something I really wanted to do and to make sure I was good at it as well.
“This trade isn’t meant for everybody. I like waking up in the morning and liking what I do.
“It can be tough. I’ve got a car right now where the indicators aren’t working.
“I just replaced the fuses, but they came back with the same problem. There’s something making the fuses blow.
“So I have to make diagnostic steps and figure out what. I like that kind of problem-solving.”
The company was impressed enough to help pay for his associates degree at the New England School of Technology in 2010.
“The experience helped a lot,” recalled Andre. “Half the things I already knew or knew the gist of. That’s where I learned how it worked, and got the general courses like physics.
“I’d always wondered how I was going to need things like physics and algebra. When it was applied to the field, I could see it.”
Mentor mechanic Mr Santos has since moved on.
His replacement is Jonathan Davis, another company apprentice who went through the New England Institute of Technology and brought the skills back home.
Andre is now a junior mechanic with the company.
“It’s like being a car doctor,” he said. “When you diagnose problems you’ve got to do it correctly — or they’ll be back.
“Or sometimes a car comes in and we have to tell the customer that the problem hasn’t happened yet and they might have to bring it back. It can be hard but there’s always something new.”
Asked if the glamour had worn off when it came to getting covered in oil, Andre laughed.
“Everybody complains that it’s a dirty job. And it is. But that all depends on how you work. I wash up regularly. You can work clean.”
Ribbon Cutting and Dedication of The Keefe Transportation Center
Text by Gita Brown, Staff Writer | RIC
The Keefe Transportation Center – a site for RIC’s new bus shelter, zip cars, rental bicycles and, perhaps, a recharging station – was dedicated this month.
Like so many of the milestones that mark Nancy Carriuolo’s presidency at Rhode Island College, this center is the result of extraordinary collaborations.
In her opening remarks at the ribbon cutting, Carriuolo said, “This is a story of two higher education institutions working collaboratively, of students and the administration working to make the college greener and safer, of local professionals providing their expertise and of donors stepping forward to provide all the necessary resources. Quite a team and quite an achievement.”
She recounted how two years ago students from RIC’s Student Community Government requested
a bus shelter. “They were led by a very able, very vocal student Aaron Buckley ’12,” she said.
The students were concerned that commuters waiting for the RIPTA bus had no shelter from bad
weather. They argued that without a bus shelter, commuters might stop catching the bus. Decreased usage of public transportation meant more cars on campus.
One of the primary goals of Carriuolo’s presidency has been to create a greener campus. The herding of more cars into lots – and more carbon emissions – was not the green campus she envisioned.
“We understood the need for a shelter,” Carriuolo said, “but our problem was how to put up a shelter with a very limited budget.”
She contacted an old friend, Richard Gouse, president of the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT), to ask if his architectural students might take on the challenge of designing a bus shelter for RIC. Gouse was delighted.
The students were grouped into teams, and each team presented their designs before a RIC panel.
Once a final design was selected, Saccoccio & Associates, an architectural firm in Cranston, RI,
agreed to refine the specs pro bono.
“They saved us a great deal of money,” Carriuolo said.
RIPTA also worked on the specs, making modifications.
And in June 2012 the Bailey Group began construction on the building. Funding came from private
donations made to the college and by a donation from the Class of 2011.
The most significant private contribution was made by John Smith, ’63, ’67 MA, a longtime supporter of RIC, a former trustee, a member of the board of RIC’s Foundation and current vice chair of the Foundation.
In honor of his generosity, the transportation center was named after his deceased mother Anna Veronica Keefe Smith ’33, ’67 MA.
John Smith ’63, ’67 MA Following the president’s remarks, Gouse, Smith and Travis Escobar, speaker of parliament for
RIC’s Student Community Government, addressed the audience.
Gouse commended Carriuolo for being a catalyst for bringing people together. While Escobar said President Carriuolo and her administration really listen to student ideas.
Smith extolled the changing landscape at RIC under Carriuolo’s leadership – the newly renovated Recreation Center, construction of the Alex and Ani Art Center, the passage of Referendum 3 – the largest bond in the history of the college – which slates Craig-Lee Hall, Gaige Hall and the Fogarty Life Science building for renovations. RIC has many ribbon cuttings to look forward to and much to be proud of, said Smith.
“We are on the move.”
“Of all the local schools in RI, New England Tech has been the most responsive when it comes to recruiting students and alumni.”
American Ring Co., Inc.
“The trend for NEIT grads is still positive relative to finding jobs. A great school with great results!”
Jeffrey Tracey, Manager, IBM
“We have had a great deal of success using NEIT grads to staff our organization. Fully one-third of NetCenergy employees are graduates of or current students at NEIT.”
Don Nokes, Present, NetCenergy
“We have been very impressed with the quality of the applicants that you have forwarded to us here at Astro. In fact, we had hired six previously who continue to work out well and have also hired two more in the past week.
Mike Fanning, Astro of New England LLC.
Congratulations to Robin Schutt, Professor and Department Chair for the Humanities and Social Sciences department, for being selected as excelsior for the 37th Annual Rhode Island Penguin Plunge (01/01/2013) sponsored by Special Olympics RI.
Robin was selected based on her commitment to this very worthy organization along with her last year’s donations. She will share her new responsibilities with fellow excelsior, Mike Horan. In this role, Robin and Mike will work with Tracy Garabedian, Special Olympics RI’s events coordinator, to plan this year’s plunge.
As an excelsior, Robin, along with Mike, will wear the traditional red bow-tie and white bathrobe prior to the plunge. Then at plunge time, they will lead the brave crowd into the water! The plunge was originally located in Jamestown, RI, but it has been moved to Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett, RI (the old Sand Hill Cove).
Dawn Edmonson, Assistant Professor in the Architectural/Building Engineering Technology program at NEIT has also donated her time and expertise to work with Robin on designing the logo for the 2013 plunge. The logo was used on all the sweatshirts, t-shirts, pins, and hats as well as billboards and advertisements promoting this great event.
Great job Robin & Dawn with this most worthy cause!
Chance of a Thunderstorm75°/50°
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