Thanks to a grant from the Argosy Foundation. WNY STEM Hub supported the creation of 47 FIRST® robotics teams in Western New York during 2017.

The FIRST® program is an immersive learning experience with plenty of teamwork and camaraderie. The structured program requires student teams to design a team “brand,” and build and program industrial-sized robots

to play a difficult field game.

The addition of these rookie teams dramatically increased the number of sites and students engaged in FIRST® robotics in Western New York.

Early exposure to conceptualizing, building, programming, and using robots is important for young learners as the role of robotics is growing in virtually every industry. This puts students on an important educational and vocational pathway toward 21st century careers, particularly those associated with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Rookie teams were formed at:

  • King Urban Life Center
  • Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness Program
  • Burgard High School
  • Nichols School
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Buffalo 4H Program
  • Wellsville Secondary School
  • Christ the King School

And other schools and after-school programs throughout Western New York.

Engaging more students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning increases their proficiency in these subjects and sparks their interest in meaningful career options. “By participating in FIRST®, students develop their science, technology, engineering and math skills in addition to learning about STEM careers from their mentors. Most importantly, students will be having great fun,” says Michelle Kavanaugh, Ed.D., president of the WNY STEM Hub.

Engaging students to design and build something with tech skills supports their learning today and sparks interest in a career pathway, too, which is a critical need in our region. The Measuring Middle Skills Occupational Gaps in WNY report determined a gap in the regional supply of new graduates to fill in-demand engineering technology jobs. “Engaging today’s students now will build tomorrow’s workforce,” Kavanaugh says. “FIRST® programs are key to the development of a future technical workforce. The support of the Argosy Foundation has enabled substantial growth of teams particularly those in the urban and rural areas of the region.  We look forward to the future growth of this FIRST® community,says Glen Pearson ,Regional Director, FIRST®. Rebecca Wasmer, the WNY Senior Mentor for FIRST® was essential to the success of this effort.

WNY STEM facilitates collaboration to advance the interdisciplinary teaching and learning of STEM/STEAM for sustained economic and intellectual vitality.

For more information contact Michelle Kavanaugh at