FIRST Robotics, The Impact on STEM Students by Joseph Parackal

As you may have seen through social media outlets, last month the Engineers’ Society of Tulsa became a gold sponsor of Union’s First Robotics Team, Ubotics - Team 3507.  A major focus area of the society is to support STEM and it fit well within our vision to partner with Ubotics.  

Helping Ubotics monetarily is just the beginning, we now need our members and other engineers and allied professionals to mentor these students in Jan & Feb as they design and build their robot in just six weeks. It is hands off, they just need advice and a little direction.  The following is a guest blog from Ubotics Marketing lead, Joseph Parackal discussing first-hand how impactful the FirstRobotics program is and the need for mentors to help Ubotics reach their goals.

FIRST Robotics, The Impact on STEM Students

by Joseph Parackal, Ubotics Marketing Lead

Union High School’s competitive robotics team, Ubotics, was founded in 2011.  Since then our goal has been to connect students with STEM education through hands-on learning and robotics.  We do this through competing, pursing awards, mentoring other robotics teams, kids' camps, volunteering and participating in community events.  Our team consists of about 50 high school students who are interested in engineering, programming and STEM.  Most of whom will pursue STEM related careers.  We are a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) team. FIRST is a worldwide organization that helps inspire kids in kindergarten through high school to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting robotics programs.

In 2014, when I first joined Ubotics, I didn’t really have any idea how it would affect me. I joined the club just because some of my friends had.  I thought it looked exciting watching robots try to score in a ball game called Aerial Assist.  However, over time, Ubotics helped me realize my choice of major for college.  Sometime in my first season, I realized that I loved every moment of it and that I really wanted to become an engineer.  It was amazing to see how people who had never really talked to each other during classes form new friendships and work together to create something for our team. Spending so much time and effort creating a robot that started as just an idea, and finally getting to see it drive the first time fills anyone with a feeling of excitement.  One can’t help but be a little proud of what they had built.

This Ubotics journey helped me understand that I wanted to work in groups like this to build or program and see what my creations could become as a career. It also gave me a new respect for engineers as I really didn’t know much about what the profession before this. I went from a new member who had no idea what the names of the tools were, to taking on a lead role on our team.  Finally, I had found something that I genuinely wanted to devote my time to and I wanted to share it with everyone. 

During our build season we are given a game challenge and six weeks to complete it.  During that time we plan, design and create a fully functioning robot up to 84” tall and 120 pounds.  Then, we compete with up to 60 teams with that robot at regional competitions.  In an alliance, 3 vs. 3 format, we compete in tournament style format with qualifying rounds and playoffs.  The ultimate goal is to earn first place to advance to the World Championships. 

As you can imagine, the design and building of such a high caliber robot as well as taking it to competitions requires both money and brainpower! To offset this expense for our students we seek company sponsorships. We're also looking for people in STEM related careers who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with our team to volunteer as a mentor.  These mentors range from technical advisors who are available to answer questions by a simple phone call or email to engineers and programmers who attend our work sessions throughout our build season.  A few even attend competitions with us.  Their level of commitment is totally based on their own availability and preferences and we welcome all levels of commitment. 

As I enter my second year of Ubotics, I can confidently share my passion for STEM with others through marketing our team across the web, social media and on-site presentations.  Through this role I hope to inspire others to find their passion just as I have.  I enjoy sharing with people how they can contribute to Ubotics’ goals by becoming a partner with us. It was through one of these presentations that we had the privilege of meeting the Board Members of EST.  We would like to welcome EST as our new partner and thank them for sponsoring us!   We truly appreciate their support. If you’re passionate about STEM and interested in becoming part of this vision, please visit us at or email me at I would love to share our goals with you.



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