FIRST Alumni Spotlight: Zach Kahn

Jun 29, 2017 Written by Zach Kahn FIRST Alum

We caught up with FIRST Alum Zach Kahn from FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1515 in Beverly Hills, CA.

ZachWhat did you do after becoming a FIRST Alum? I attended The George Washington University and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Information Systems Technology. Now I am a Lead Technologist at Booz Allen Hamilton where I help develop software and improve business processes for government clients.

What are your future plans?

My future plans are to continue to work in the software development field supporting multiple clients and initiatives through business analysis. Eventually, I would like to build on my experience and become a project manager. I will continue to support FIRST by mentoring teams, volunteering at competitions and organizing events.

How has your FIRST experience impacted your post-graduation life?

 FIRST helped steer me towards a technology-related degree and now I am in a technology consulting role because of my continued interest in the subject. I learned valuable leadership skills as a captain of my FIRST Robotics Competition team, including how to resolve interpersonal conflicts and express ideas through the competition. FIRST has inspired me and led the way to where I am today.

You’ve continued to be involved with FIRST as an Alum; what have you been up to?Zach and Booz Allen Colleagues

I have been involved with FIRST since high school. Through my employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, I mentor FIRST Robotics Competition Team 2900 in Washington, D.C. I have also planned a FIRST LEGO League Build event and I have served as a FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Junior Judge and Volunteer at various competitions.

You shared that you’ve made and kept great FIRST friends – any advice to current Participants on how to do that?

Although my FIRST friends attended colleges across the country, we keep in touch regularly in person and by phone. Occasionally, we have team alumni meet-ups in LA to get the group together again. It's great seeing everyone and catching up.

Zach and Woodie FLowersWhat is the best piece of advice the you’ve received?

The most valuable piece of advice I have received from FIRST is when approaching a complex problem: take a step back, determine a strategy to achieve your goals and prioritize your tasks. This is very important during the build season when teams must pick a strategy for how they want to compete in the FIRST competitions. I have also found this to be true in my professional life when prioritizing software development tasks in order to create a working product.

What is your favorite FIRST memory?

My favorite FIRST-related memory was during the 2007 Colorado Regional. This was the first competition where I was the driver of the robot and I had a blast in this role. We spent hours going over strategy beforehand to take on heavy weight teams, such as RoboNauts and the Pink Team. We were finalists at the regional, which was a first-time accomplishment for our team. It was the hardest-earned fun I had ever had.


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