Make Science Cool and Prepare Your Future Workforce

By Elissa Nesbitt

This week wraps up Engineering Week in the U.S., a week long effort created by the National Society of Professional Engineers. Their goal: To ensure a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of, and interest in, engineering and technology careers.

We get it.

Xerox saw the need back in the ‘60s, and we’ve been committed to inspiring the next generation of engineers ever since.  We’re not only dedicated to teaching the hands-on skills in subjects like math and physics; we also listen, mentor and become role models.  The Xerox Science Consultant Program and Xerox FIRST teams are a cornerstone of our commitment to citizenship and community.  They are also an investment in our future.  This is how Xerox ensures a diverse and prepared future engineering workforce.

Start early. Make science COOL!

About now, hundreds of straws and paperclips thrown in boxes with metal weights, and are ready to make their way to classrooms in the Rochester (N.Y.) City School District.  Their fate?  Become the strongest structure a 4th grader can make.   Every school year, The Xerox Science Consultant Program and its roster of engineers teaches hands-on science lessons to elementary school students.  The goal?  Make the lightbulb go on, literally and figuratively.  Introduce an engineering career path.  Inspire young people that, yes, you can do this too.

Xerox Science Consultant Program
Clara Ocneanu, second from right, and her team of students from PS 28 In Rochester, NY ready to enter the Structures Challenge.

In the ‘90s, Xerox joined forces with FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, a global program that enables students to build a fully functional robot out of a box of parts, or LEGOs, to address a real world challenge.  There’s pressure. There’s failure.  There’s inspiration.

Xerox supports more than 100 teams in the U.S. and Canada.  That’s thousands of students who get to see what it’s like to work at Xerox, and to create and innovate for a living.  For most, that’s pretty cool.

Learn more

The Global Citizenship Report shows how we continue to help people, communities and the planet grow and thrive.

It was for Gabriel Trevino. Gabriel was a member of FIRST Team 191, The X-Cats, and says it was one of the best things he did.  “Attending the city schools all my life and coming from a single-parent home, I didn’t know any engineers before FIRST, or what engineering even meant.”  He shares that he didn’t have a lot of male role models.  “FIRST and the X-Cats gave me the opportunities to become confident and comfortable; by forcing me into situations I wasn’t always prepared for, I was able to develop as a person and as a leader.” Gabriel graduated from Harvard University in 2014 with a degree in Computer Science, and now works as a software engineer writing Android applications for the military and first responders. He also mentors the X-Cats as a way to give back.

For Nic Quattromani and Anika Todt of FIRST Team 8466 Lake Oswego Robotics in Oregon, the program propelled their college careers and afforded them extraordinary opportunities.  Thanks to FIRST, Nic received a full scholarship to Oregon State University where he is a freshman studying mechanical and aerospace engineering. He wants to work for NASA. His teammate, Anika Todt was the software design lead for the team, and is now studying chemical engineering at The University of Southern California. She earned a presidential scholarship, is on the solar car team, and is a published author in a scientific journal.

Xerox FIRST Team 8466
Nic, Anika and their teammates.

Learn more about the FIRST teams featured in this article

X-Cats on the web –
Xcentrics on Facebook –
Lake Oswego Robotics
on the web –
West Hills Eagle Engineering on the web –

She believed she could; so she did

One the best things that’s come out of our commitment to FIRST is a growing number of young women getting involved.  According Xerox engineer Kari LaMora, a mentor for FIRST Team 2340, the Xcentrics, FIRST empowers her students and allows them to see their potential.

Her team members credit FIRST for their career aspirations of becoming industrial and aerospace engineers, as well as a pediatric surgeon.  Anna Schinsing says FIRST “makes me feel smart, capable.  Her teammate Lily Hyde adds, “It’s cool and will help build the future.”

About Engineers Week

Founded more than 50 years ago,  EWeek is a formal coalition of more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. EWeek promotes recognition among parents, teachers, and students of the importance of a technical education and a high level of math, science, and technology literacy, and motivates youth, to pursue engineering careers in order to provide a diverse and vigorous engineering workforce. Each year, EWeek reaches thousands of schools, businesses, and community groups across the U.S.

Xerox FIRST Team 1138

Yara Sevilla, a senior at Chaminade High School in West Hills, Calif., and leader of Team 1138- Chaminade Eagle Engineering, felt empowered by FIRST as well. She remembers she was one of three girls in a sea of nearly seventy boys when she went to the FIRST information session at her school. “I didn’t feel out of place but I felt underrepresented,” she said. Since then she learned as much as she could in CAD, gear ratios and how to solder. She is now the lead for her team and urges peers not to shy away from engineering. She’s headed to Stanford in the fall to study engineering.

Yara is pictured working on this year’s robot, below.  “The only things necessary to succeed are confidence, hard work, and risk taking.”  Well said, Yara.  We’ll be cheering you and our FIRST alums on as you make your mark on the world.

Xerox FIRST Team 1138

Thank you for allowing Xerox to be part of it.

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  1. Rudy Montalvo February 23, 2018 -

    Awesome article, students, and teachers/mentors! Thank you Xerox for all of your support over the many years!

    • Elissa Nesbitt February 26, 2018 -

      Thanks for reading, Rudy!

  2. Ashley Threlfall March 5, 2018 -

    I would have enjoyed to hear some about the Wilsonville Robotics Team 1425 “Error Code Xero” featured in this article. This local team has been sponsored by Xerox for well over a decade – as you can even tell in their name. They are an FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) team that performs very well in local and regional competitions and even makes it to World Championships most years.
    I am very thankful for Xerox’s support of FIRST!

    • Elissa Nesbitt March 8, 2018 -

      Hi Ashley. Thanks for your note. Yes ErrorCode is one of our first teams-no pun intended! — and we are proud of their accomplishments. Thank you for volunteering and giving your time. Stay tuned-I hope to tell many FIRST stories in the months to come. Best of luck this season! Elissa

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