This past weekend, we had the pleasure of watching local teenagers showcase a very unique talent: robotics programming.
High schoolers from New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and two teams from Mexico gathered in the gym at The Menual School in Albuquerque and waited for the moment of truth to see if their teams robot could accomplish a long set of deceivingly difficult tasks.
Most teams’ robots were able to pick up debris, climb ladders, and even move without a remote control. And the enthusiasm that we saw was astounding. Most young kids get excited to watch the football game or check out the latest Fast & Furious movie, but this group of high schoolers were having the time of their lives watching all of the hard work that they put into their robots come to life.
This, all thanks to FIRST Tech Challenge – a national organization that  gives middle and high school students and their adult mentors the opportunity to work and create together to solve a common problem. Teams are challenged to design and build a robot using a kit of parts and within a common set of rules to play a sophisticated field game.
photoAnd the best news yet: the organizations positive growth and success in New Mexico to date has afforded the state the opportunity to host our OWN FIRST Tech Challenge Championship tournament next year. Enough of our young local students are interested in engaged in the program, that New Mexico will have a FIRST chapter of its own.
According to Manny Barrera, Event Director and the new Affiliate Partner for FTC, “This is just the beginning, with the support of the local community we can open more opportunities for New Mexico students to explore their passion is STEM programs.”
What FIRST is bringing to the youth in our state is only a scratch on the surface in terms of the influx of STEM initiatives and development we have seen grow over the past year. At the APS Digital Learning Conference last month, which we were fortunate to have the chance to keynote, everything from mobile apps to 3D printing were presented and are currently being introduced in classrooms across the state.
According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while others are growing at 9.8%. The future of our kids, and of our state, relies on getting our youth excited and passionate about science, engineering and technology at an early age. So we’re thrilled to see, and support, the growth of these programs in New Mexico.
If you are interested in learning more about the FIRST Tech Challenge, or getting involved, please contact Manny Barrera at
NMTC will also be awarding and honoring several local high school women at our annual Women In Tech Celebration for their achievements in computing.
For more information and to buy tickets to the event please visit