Volunteer Spotlight: Andrew Burger

“Volunteering for FIRST events means so many things to me. I started by volunteering to be a robot judge at a FIRST Lego League (FLL) tournament. It was encouraging to see kids so excited to show what their robots could do, even if pieces fell off when they weren’t supposed to. The following year, I started an FLL team and a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team. Being a coach was a different experience, but still, I was amazed to see some of the talents of these kids. There was one kid who would only call me Mr. Burger, that would bring his notebook of a sketch in and ask “Mr. Burger, what do you think of this idea?”. The time and effort he put into presenting his idea was priceless. The following year, unfortunately, I had to move and hand off my team to someone else.

So I contemplated starting another team right away but instead, I became a programming mentor to an FTC team, Geared Up 6347. Seeing these kids be just as professional as my co-workers impressed me so much, I got some co-workers to stop by and visit the team. When the tournament came, I decided to volunteer as Field Technical Advisor (FTA). It was amazing to help these professional kids compete in a sport for the tinkers, builders, and programmers. Every tournament and year, I meet outstanding kids that truly impressed me with their spirit, determination, and professionalism. So to help with FIRST is to help shape the future generations of the world.

When I heard of FIRST Global, I was excited that Geared Up 6347 might be able to meet and help an overseas team online. After looking into it further, I thought it would be amazing to take what I have learned from being an FTA for FTC and go help at FIRST Global. I mentioned it to the team that I was going to be an FTA at FIRST Global and if anyone wanted to come along they could. Of course, the whole team decides to travel with me to Washington DC and help out. For me and the team, it was an experience of a lifetime. Nowhere else could I have had the experience of meeting so many professional kids from so many countries, all of them thrilled about science, robotics, and programming, working together as partners in some matches and against each other in others. One moment that stands out was after a match, a team came over and wanted to learn why certain technical issues happen and what could they do to prevent it in the future. After explaining, they presented me with a small gift from their country. FIRST Global 2017 was an event that showed that the world can come together to do great things just like these future engineers.”