INSPIRATION IS EVERWHERE

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I learned to thrive in ever-changing environments

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Jillian Bejtlich

FIRST® Alum & Volunteer

FIRST alum Jillian Bejtlich is from FIRST® Robotics Competition Team 40 “Pioneers” and Team 501 “Power Knights” in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she learned to thrive in fast-paced, chaotic, and ever-changing environments. “FIRST also gave me a chance to really solidify my love of math, structural engineering, and design, which absolutely set me up for success as a future engineer and technology leader,” she says. Today, Jillian develops ways to ensure engineers can collaborate with each other regardless of their level or location as a community collaboration strategist for BAE Systems.

What did you do after becoming a FIRST alum?
After graduating high school in 2005, I went on to attend New Hampshire Technical Institute because I knew they had great programs that fit my not-so-great tuition budget. With 37 engineers in my family (out to my first cousins), I knew I wanted to pursue engineering and NHTI ensured I had a wide range of majors to choose from. I ended up choosing architectural engineering technology and it was the perfect fit. From day one, I found NHTI to be a thought-provoking college with an awesome emphasis on hands-on technical work and physics – much like FIRST!

Soon after NHTI, I accepted a position at Autodesk as a technical support specialist which broadened my skills, interests, and future plans. I supported companies across the world as they used Autodesk’s architectural products, ran QA testing on new products, and found new ways to help reach users through the Autodesk user community. All of this eventually led to getting my bachelor’s degree in interactive design technology and my current position as the community collaboration strategist for BAE Systems. I find and develop ways to ensure engineers can collaborate with each other regardless of their level or location.

How has your FIRST experience impacted your post-graduation life?
FIRST has always been an incredibly important part of my life. My parents surprised me in seventh grade with a LEGO MINDSTORMS kit which further fueled my interest in robotics. Soon after, I attended River Rage [an off-season FIRST Robotics Competition event], and I was hooked. I knew whatever high school I attended had to have a FIRST team!

FIRST gave me the leadership and public speaking skills that help me succeed in my life today. Thanks to two years as captain of Team 501, starting multiple FIRST® LEGO® League teams, and my participation on the drive and pit teams, I had a lot of practice with fast-paced, chaotic, and ever-changing environments. FIRST also gave me a chance to really solidify my love of math, structural engineering, and design, which absolutely set me up for success as a future engineer and technology leader.

You’ve continued to be involved with FIRST as an alum; what have you been up to?
Tons! I am one of two head judges in New Hampshire for FIRST LEGO League, the production coordinator for all NH-based FIRST Robotics Competition events, and a mentor for Team 3323 from Litchfield, NH. FIRST creates a connective network of people who are constantly making an impact in the lives of students, which is why I find it important and necessary to remain involved. And it’s fun.

Visit firstinspires.org/alumni for more FIRST Alumni spotlights. Share your story for a chance to be featured.


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