FIRST Alumni Make FIRST Teams Possible
One challenge we face bringing FIRST to under-resourced communities, is that there are fewer companies who employ people with technical skills. Volunteer technical mentors are essential to the success of any FIRST Robotics team. In communities like the Bronx for instance, one source of expertise is FIRST team alumni who go on to post-secondary technical education and return to help their old team.
One such dedicated individual is Reuben Bridges, now an alumnus of Morris High School, who has been committed to the school's FIRST Robotics team since the day it began eight years ago.
Reuben is studying Electrical Engineering at Hostos Community College where he also enjoys learning about animation, working on cars, and writing poetry. Reuben also works part-time in The Children's Hospital at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. There he teaches patients about technology and helps prepare them for life once they leave the hospital.
Since graduating from high school Reuben has done just about everything a mentor can do. Reuben takes the role of being a mentor seriously because he is grateful for the guidance and support mentors gave him during his time as a FIRST Robotics team member. Upon reflection Reuben says, "Gary Israel [Reuben's FIRST team coach] is a very hard worker. He really wants young people to be involved in things that will impact their future."
When asked about the most memorable times, Reuben's list of memories is extensive. He was there when the team was just starting and figuring out how what FIRST was all about. He was there when the team represented FIRST at the Sony WonderLab and was honored at numerous Yankees' games. He was there when the team went to Atlanta for the FIRST Championship in the Georgia Dome. However, the most memorable time Reuben says was, "when we won both the Pittsburgh Regional and New York Regional in 2004 and 2005. That was a really great feeling for me and for the team."
Montefiore Medical Center is the University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. It ranks in the top one percent of all hospitals in the U.S. for its investments in medical innovation and technology.