FIRST LEGO League Alum and Volunteer: Sam Ryckman
My interest in engineering and science started the same way it likely did for many: playing with Lego. From age eleven to eighteen, I participated in FIRST Lego League (FLL) and later FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). These programs sparked my interest in science and engineering through exciting challenges and fun competitions. I learned how to design, program, and build robots. But more importantly, I learned the importance of teamwork, communication, and hard work.
I am now attending college at South Dakota Mines pursuing degrees in mechanical engineering and computer science. After graduating, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in robotics. My participation in FIRST robotics played a large role in setting me on this course and equipping me for the challenges I would face along the way.
While at college, I have stayed involved with the teams back in my hometown as much as possible. I began with coaching FLL and have continued as a coach as many of these students have continued on to FTC. The growth and learning I have seen through these years have been amazing and quite rewarding. I have observed this not only by how their robots have progressed over the years, but also by how they interact and work together as a team. Additionally, many of these students are planning to pursue careers in science and technology, which makes me quite happy on a personal level.
These experiences are the norm within FIRST robotics. The learning, fun, and friendships formed while working on robots and completing challenges are at the core of this program. FIRST robotics has had a large impact in my life, and it has been an honor for me to be involved with it.