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I learned what it takes to be a successful engineer through FIRST

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David Gomez


FIRST alum David Gomez is from FIRST Robotics Competition Team 3196, Team SPORK, in Mooresville, North Carolina. Today, he’s an electrical engineer at Fitbit, where he’s using skills he learned through FIRST – including initiative, teamwork, and how to solve abstract problems – to research, design, and manufacture next-gen products. “FIRST really cemented my love for electrical engineering,” he says. “I think the lessons it taught me really put me ahead in college and set me on a great career path.”

What did you do after becoming a FIRST alum?
I work at Fitbit as an electrical engineer and have been in this position for a little over a year, but I was an intern for them before. I am responsible for helping to research, design, and manufacture the next generation of Fitbit products, which is a lot of fun.

How has your FIRST experience impacted your post-graduation life?
FIRST taught me a lot of skills that have impacted my current job. The first is initiative: The robot doesn’t build itself, and the mentors aren’t going to build it for you. If you want that robot to move, you need to get up, do the math, and build. Being an engineer is the same exact way. You must take the initiative to be successful.

FIRST also taught me how to solve an abstract problem. Because no one at FIRST tells you how to design the robot, you must be creative. You are simply given a challenge and have to build a robot to accomplish the tasks. In my current job, I might be told, “Make a fitness tracker that lasts seven days on charge, has a touch screen, and is water proof.” It is extremely hard to fix a problem from scratch because there is no rulebook.

FIRST helped me understand the value of teamwork. Engineering problems are often very difficult and can’t be solved by one person alone. To be a successful engineer, you must learn how to work together, find everyone’s strengths, split up tasks, help each other, and most importantly, have trust that you and your teammates will succeed.

FIRST really cemented my love for electrical engineering. I think the lessons it taught me really put me ahead in college and set me on a great career path. Some of the concepts like “gracious professionalism” stick with me today and shape my worldview.

What advice would you have for current FIRST participants?
Apply yourself! You only get as much out of an experience as you put in, and you can get A LOT out of FIRST. It’s a revolutionary program that is really a great first step into the world of engineering. Not to mention, today is a great time to be an engineer. As you go through engineering school, you will get exposed to and be amazed by all the fantastic things that people are up to. Technology is a powerful force for good in the world, and we are on the brink of some amazing advancements in areas like autonomous vehicles, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and, of course, robotics that will change and improve life to an astounding degree.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally posted on the FIRST NC blog.

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