Investing in educational organizations and programs that inspire students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is a priority. In doing so we invest in the innovators and leaders of the future who will continue to identify solutions to solve mining’s toughest challenges.

Our support of the International organization FIRST Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a powerful way in which we can help develop today’s youth to become STEM leaders.  By designing and building a robot for competition students build science, engineering, and technology skills along with developing well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. FIRST has a tremendous impact with nearly 90% of its alumni pursuing a STEM Career and over 93% of the participants reporting improved time management, problem solving a conflict resolution skills. It is a program that produces strong STEM scholars and individuals with improved 21st Century work-life skills.

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We sponsored the Lake Superior and Northern Lights Regional Competition in Minnesota which attracts students from the Iron Range and Canada and the Wisconsin Regional FIRST Robotics Competition that took place March 25-26. We were a sponsor of the overall competition and we had several engineers who generously volunteered hundreds of hours to serve as mentors to local high school teams that were also sponsored by the company.

With support from PDM Administrator Tracy Stefanski the CougarBots from Barack Obama School of
Career and Technology Education competed and put up a strong fight through ten matches. Mentors like Tracy and the other employees are just one out of a team of many that support each robotics team.  

Mentored by Advanced Automation Engineer Wes Taylor, the New Berlin Blitz team (5148) had a roller coaster of excitement during the Milwaukee Regional. The first day the team was ranked second with a 7-0 record for the day. On Saturday team fell down to 15th with a 7-3 record, just outside of the top 8 needed to guarantee the team into the quarterfinals. The team was however selected by the #1 seeded alliance as the last selected team to move on. The students performed very well during the quarterfinals but were eliminated 2-1.

Chuck Payne, Senior Engineering in Electrical Engineering, mentored the Mukwonago Bears FIRST Robotics Team 930. The team competed in the Northern Lights Regional competition finishing ninth out of 60 teams and taking home the Quality Award. At the Wisconsin Regional Competition the team came in 12th out of 53 teams, losing in quarter finals.

Team 5855 from West Allis Central High School was a rookie team mentored by Jason Gaska, Engineer II. The team ended the qualification rounds as the 23rd ranked team (out of 53) but got selected to compete in the playoffs and eventually went on to win the regional competition. The team will be advancing to the championships in St. Louis from April 27-30.

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Congratulations and appreciation is extended to the engineers who gave of their time to mentor the teams. We also salute the students who truly gave their all, demonstrating a willingness to think outside the box, show professionalism and cooperation and dedicated their time and talent throughout the build season. Finally we celebrate the parents and teachers who also made this year’s FIRST Robotics season possible.