DENSO’s Maryville, Tennessee, facility (DMTN) is a proud supporter of FIRST Robotics, an international engineering competition designed to give students real-world science experience. Through DMTN’s support, DENSO associates mentor and guide a FIRST Robotics team comprised of local student competitors. One of these associates is Jim McDaniel, a senior manager in DENSO’s Body Electronics division. This was his second year supporting the program, where he was a Jack of all trades – part teacher, motivator and photographer – but also a dad. His son captained the software team.
Jim finds the can-do spirit that FIRST Robotics encourages and learning opportunities it provides to be what makes it so valuable to students.
“As a mentor, I have a priority to do almost everything through the kids themselves,” said Jim. “FIRST is incredibly important as a program because it gives high school students the opportunity to grapple with an engineering challenge, decide strategies and solutions to problems, design systems and components, then test them.”
While enhancing students’ education in the short term, Jim believes DENSO’s relationship with FIRST Robotics has long-term benefits for the company and broader automotive industry as well.
“I think it’s critical for DENSO to support FIRST robotics because the kids that go through this experience come out with so much experience with hard work, design, fabrication, critical thinking, planning and problem-solving,” explained Jim. “These kids will become the future engineers, technicians and troubleshooters of the workforce. After being a part of this program, I now see FIRST experience on an applicant’s history as a sign of something special.”