New funding provides students opportunities to train for STEM careers

John Horgan

STUDENTS with a passion for robotics will now have more opportunities to develop their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills and explore career opportunities, thanks to a one-time $250,000 provincial government grant provided to First Robotics BC.

“This funding is part of our government’s work to invest in services that help give kids around the province the skills they need to succeed,” said Premier John Horgan. “The STEM fields are growing exponentially in B.C., and I’m proud that students like the Reynolds Reybots will be prepared to meet these exciting new opportunities and help build a sustainable, low-carbon economy.”

Hundreds more students will now have the opportunity to participate in robotics programs throughout the province. Students who have participated in these programs have gone on to establish good-paying careers in engineering, have started their own tech companies and are working at some of the largest tech companies in the world, like Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel and Honeywell.

Benefits to students include increased access to post-secondary training as a result of government’s investment in 2,900 tech-related spaces. These spaces are expected to result in 1,000 additional graduates per year by 2023 as government works towards building a strong, sustainable economy for British Columbians.

“B.C.’s thriving tech sector provides great opportunities for B.C. students,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “These new funds will increase training and learning opportunities so students can explore STEM careers during their school years and prepare for in-demand future jobs.”

Five B.C. secondary school robotics teams have already benefited from this funding as they recently participated in the 2019 First Championship in Houston, Texas on April 17-20. Teams that travelled to Texas included Reynolds Secondary in Victoria, North Surrey Secondary, L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, West Vancouver Secondary and J.N. Burnett Secondary in Richmond. Each team received $5,000 toward its competition fees.

First Robotics BC will use this funding to expand teacher development, enhance curriculum resources, explore state-of-the-art robotics materials and hire more First Robotics staff to mentor students throughout the province. These funds will also help grow First Robotics programming by more than 600 students this year, from 1,170 participants in 2018 to 1,795 participants in 2019.

“Our government recognizes the need to enhance the learning experience for STEM so that young people can build real world skills for the jobs of the future,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “By encouraging students to explore various tech programs, such as robotics, we are opening their minds to the potential of a promising career in B.C.’s diverse tech sector.”

First Robotics BC was launched with the help of funding partners Microsoft, First Robotics Canada and GSL Holdings, to attract and develop the next generation of STEM leaders. First Robotics visits schools and meets with officials to encourage participation in robotics and supports teams with a range of materials and software to build robots.

First Robotics BC encourages young British Columbians to become science and technology leaders. Its robotics program provides K-12 students with opportunities to engage in mentor-based research and robotics programs that help them grow into successful leaders.

B.C.’s new K-12 curriculum has a strong focus on STEM and provides students the opportunity to develop their skills in a range of technologies, including coding, electronics, mechatronics and robotics.

Ian Koscielski, Regional Director, First Robotics BC, said: “Through our robotics program, youth learn important life skills – a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging and a sense of achievement. Developing innovative and highly technical skills and attitudes is essential to our participants’ future success, as well as B.C.’s science and technology advancement and economic growth potential. We are delighted the B.C. government is supporting our efforts as we continue to grow provincewide.”


Quick Facts:

* Based on a survey conducted by Brandeis University, the vast majority of First participants developed important technology skills and gained workforce skills, including problem-solving, time management and conflict resolution skills.

* The tech sector employs more than 114,000 people and is made up of more than 10,500 businesses.

* B.C. has the third largest high-tech workforce in Canada.

* Average earnings of technology employees in B.C. are 83% higher than those of the average B.C. worker.


Learn More:

First Robotics BC:

First Robotics Canada: