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FIRST prepares students to serve the nation

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Austin Ahern

2015 Dean’s List Finalist, FIRST Alum

I am a 2016 graduate of FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1987, The Broncobots, and received the Dean’s List Finalist award at the Greater Kansas City Regional in 2015. I am now a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy.

I strongly believe I would not be where I am today if I had not been a part of FIRST and especially having received the honor that is Dean’s List. FIRST introduced me to a world of science and engineering that I quickly fell in love with. My first weekend in the robotics shop my freshman year, I stayed until at least 2 a.m. It was the first of many late nights there. I took on as many roles on the team as I could, trying to learn as much as possible.

When I started looking into colleges, I found the United States Air Force Academy is one of the top engineering schools in the nation, and would allow me to serve the nation I love and give back, a concept FIRST promotes. You cannot go through FIRST without it changing you. In fact, one of my Mentors is a member of the Air Force. His knowledge, insight, and wisdom helped take an interest and lead me to choose this career.

The Air Force Academy wants students who are well rounded, have very strong academics, very good time management skills, are passionate about STEM, and are leaders fit to be Officers. These are all qualities of Dean’s List Finalists. That helped set me apart from my peers when applying.

Basic Cadet Training was about six weeks – the same length of a FIRST Robotics Competition build season. Being able to think about where I would be in a build season helped me get through my training. Instead of me building a robot, my instructors were building me into a cadet. 

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