FIRST Newsletter - September, 2011 - Bill Miller
Bill Miller Reflects on FRC, Past and Present:
Passion is the FIRST Factor that Makes All the Difference
Although FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Director Bill Miller came to his FIRST position later in life — he is a retired Lt. Colonel, who spent six years of active duty with the U.S. Army followed by 26 years at Polaroid — Miller says the past six years with FIRST have been among the most rewarding of his professional career.
According to Miller, what makes FIRST different from other organizations is the passion its people bring to the table and the impact of that passion. As director of the FRC program, Miller feels his actions make a difference “for me, for the team members, and for the future of all those who are impacted by the organization.”
Miller adds that FIRST is about more than just robots. “The robots are the vehicle through which students learn about engineering, math, and science, in addition to leadership, logistics, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism™.”
The “success” stories he’s witnessed at FIRST are many and varied, ranging from students who never would have considered pursuing an engineering career, to inner-city school students who built robots out of wood because they didn’t have access to a machine shop. And, its impact is significant. “As we recognize our achievements during the past 20 years, we are at a point in the history of the organization where those who initially became interested in science and technology because of FIRST are now parents, team Mentors, and staff members. They now have an opportunity to give back to the organization that gave them so much.”
During the last six years Miller has seen a lot of changes. “The team population, as well as the number of regional events, has doubled,” says Miller, who adds that he feels in the not too distant future FIRST students will make a big difference in our world, whether it be in the field of science, medicine, or technology.
Where does Miller see FRC heading in the next 20 years? “We’re constantly reviewing where we’re going and what we’re doing. We plan on changing because technology continuously changes, updates, and improves,” says Miller.
Remarking on how far technology has advanced in the last decade, Miller says FIRST needs to be proactive and continue to change, too. With that in mind, the FRC director says the organization is targeting to expand its reach to every high-school student so FIRST can continue to impact the next generation of engineers, technologists, and scientists.