Who's on FIRST? Boeing and Mariners go to bat for kids studying science

Batting 1000: High school "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" (FIRST) student makes a pitch for tomorrow's workforce

September 10, 2018 in Our Community

Sixteen-year old Alina Fowler is always on her game when she’s working on robots with her Seattle teammates on Franklin High School’s XBot Robotics team. It is one of 150 “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” or FIRST, teams sponsored or mentored by Boeing in Washington state, and Alina credits her FIRST team with inspiring her to pursue a career in engineering.

But while she’s confident in her STEM skills, baseball is a different story. So when Boeing invited her to throw out the “partner pitch” at the Boeing-sponsored Seattle Mariners “Salute to Kids game,” she worked with her dad for days to make sure she would be ready for prime time.

The lessons clearly took.

“That was a little nerve-wracking,” Alina said after her successful pitch in front of 35,000 baseball fans. “But it went straight and far!”

With nearly half of Boeing’s employees world-wide located in Washington, Boeing has many robust community partnerships statewide that run the gamut from supporting educational endeavors to events with local athletic teams. Boeing sponsors two Salute to Kids games with Seattle’s major league baseball team each year, plus one “Salute to Armed Forces” Mariners game, which took place in April.

Boeing has partnered with FIRST for a decade and provides over $1 million of support each year. Hundreds of Boeing employees and retirees nationwide also mentor more than 10,000 students affiliated with 550 FIRST teams around the country.

“Boeing is committed to programs like FIRST that help students learn the design, engineering and manufacturing skills that are critical in the workforce of tomorrow,” said Gina Breukelman, Boeing Global Engagement senior manager.

“It’s also great when we can further celebrate those students with cool experiences like this Mariners pitch opportunity, or with tickets to a game through our Legion of Youth Powered by Boeing partnership with the (Seattle) Seahawks” football team, she said.

FIRST leaders say working with Boeing makes them better, too.

“Our vision is to bring FIRST programs into every school building across Washington, just like sports,” said Erin McCallum, president of FIRST Washington. “In fulfilling our vision, Boeing employees and retirees play a huge role in igniting the excitement towards STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with our teams.”

By Deborah Feldman