Challenge grant encourages businesses to underwrite the team

Local high school students are learning teamwork and developing technical skills by competing in the FIRST Robotics competition ( “The FIRST competition introduces our students to serious engineering,” said Ron Severson, principal, Granite Bay High School, the magnet school for the South Placer-based Robotics Team. The school, Sierra College and employers believe participation will inspire students to consider technical careers.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is a multinational competition attracting 25,000 young people on 1000 teams to solve an engineering design problem in an intense and competitive way. The teams, guided by technical mentors, have six weeks to design and build robots out of a common set of parts and then pilot the robots to perform prescribed tasks. Teams are judged on design, technology, sportsmanship and commitment to FIRST.

The Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) ( has committed $3000 as a challenge grant to get the team to the regional competition in Davis, CA on March 23-25. The 33 regional events feed into the April championship in Atlanta.

Kimberly Dover, a senior at Granite Bay High School, is president of the Robotics Club and is leading the charge to participate in the FIRST Competition. “The support from the Sierra College CACT is awesome,” said Dover. “This is the third time I’ve been on a FIRST team. We learn a lot because it is exciting and fun.”

The club is looking for businesses to match the Sierra College CACT’s contribution of funds. The Sierra College Computer Integrated Electronics – Mechatronics ( faculty have committed to providing technical expertise.

The professional engineers who mentor the students give them relevant guidance not available in textbooks. “Students benefit by collaborating with engineers from local companies,” said Severson. “The competition brings out the best in students. It mirrors real life project management; they have to pool their team’s skills to meet a goal within a budget by a deadline.”

Steven Miller, Granite Bay High School teacher and club advisor agrees. “It is a great way to teach physics and engineering through an experience that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” said Miller. “Students dedicate an average of 200 hours each over the six week project.”

Sandra Scott, Director, Workforce Development & Continuing Education for Sierra College, sees the club as a way to attract young people to technological and manufacturing careers. “Our CACT advisory board of local manufacturers believes that we must reach students at younger ages to excite them about science and math so they’ll consider technical careers,” said Scott.

“There is a direct link between high school students participating in FIRST and wanting to learn more about robotics through the Sierra College Mechatronics program. Mechatronics graduates can go directly to work for a local manufacturers or transfer to a four year engineering degree program,” said Scott. “Employers are looking for staff with the skills introduced by FIRST.”

The mission of the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies is to support companies with employee training, technology deployment and industry development. Since 1997, the Sierra College CACT has supported manufacturers and technology companies in Northern California from Sacramento to the Oregon border. A complete list of services and training topics is available at or contact Sandra Scott at 916-781-6245.

*Sierra College