For Caitlin Meyer, FIRST Robotics offers an opportunity to teach the next generation about opportunities in the engineering field and the things that have always made sense to her.
In high school, a Society of Women Engineers event introduced Caitlin Meyer to the engineering departments at Missouri University of Science and Technology where she would study the hands-on application of math and science as an electrical engineering major. Now, she is sharing her knowledge as a mentor for the next generation of engineers.
After being contacted by Shafer, Kline & Warren’s (SKW) recruiters, Meyer was hired as a programmer within days of her graduation. Three years later, Meyer is back in school as a mentor for Cristo Rey’s inaugural FIRST Robotics team.
“These kids are extremely intelligent,” said Meyer. “Not only am I able to help them as a mentor, but I am also learning a lot from the way they think and the unique ways they approach problems.”
FIRST Robotics is a national program that seeks to combine the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and math by pairing student teams with mentors to guide them in building robots that compete in a set of challenges. Meyer is one of four full-time mentors from SKW who are helping the 14-member Cristo Rey team with their first year of program for 14 hours a week throughout the six-week competition.
“Many of the students on our team live in the inner city and do not realize some of their options beyond high school,” said Meyer. “There is huge demand in the STEM fields, so I hope to help them realize what they can do after high school with the knowledge and abilities they have.”
In addition to mentoring, Meyer is continuing to pursue her education. She is involved in SKW’s project management excellence program and in the second year of her master’s degree program at DeVry.
“No day at SKW is ever the same,” said Meyer. “I feel like I have infinite room to grow and do what I really want, so I am taking the steps to take advantage of that opportunity.”
Heidi Stanfield, managing director of electrical engineering at SKW, said the attributes that make Meyer an outstanding employee are some of the same reasons she thought Meyer would make a great mentor.
“Caitlin’s enthusiasm is contagious,” said Stanfield who approached Meyer about the FIRST Robotics program. “She’s a talented engineer, but more than that, she is the type of person you want on your team. She’s great at helping guide these students and explain concepts to them in a way that helps them think about the problem at hand and the big picture.”
Cristo Rey is one of more than 60 teams from the Kansas City area competing in the FIRST Robotics challenge. During the competition, the robots that the students have designed and built must climb over obstacles and throw balls into targets to capture the other team’s tower.
“In this competition, they get to see real-world applications for physics and math, which is really exciting,” said Meyer. “Math and science have always made sense to me. Now I get to help them understand how engineering can be intriguing and relevant to their lives.”