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FIRST Robotics Scholarship Helping Rose-Hulman Freshman Realize STEM Goals

March 3, 2014


FIRST Robotics Scholar: Alexander Bair, a Rose-Hulman freshman chemical engineering major from Van Wert, Ohio, received one of 40 scholarships awarded in 2013 by the Raytheon Company to support FIRST Robotics alumni.

Alexander Bair developed an appreciation for engineering in high school through the FIRST Robotics and Project Lead the Way programs. Now, as a freshman chemical engineering student at Rose-Hulman, Bair has found a place to keep that love alive—thanks to a Raytheon Company-sponsored scholarship for FIRST Robotics alumni.

The scholarship is among more than $19 million from more than 150 scholarship providers available nationally each year to FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) alumni pursuing undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Raytheon awards 40 individual scholarships of $1,000 each to high-school seniors or full-time college freshmen, sophomores, or juniors who participated in a FIRST Robotics competition or were a member of a FIRST Tech Challenge team.

Bair was the first Rose-Hulman student to receive a Raytheon-FIRST Robotics Scholarship. He was introduced to engineering in Project Lead the Way engineering classes at his high school in Van Wert, Ohio. That led his teacher to starting a FIRST Robotics team at the school.

“My teacher asked if we had an interest in doing something outside of class with actual engineering and problem solving,” Bair says.

As a junior, Bair was an inaugural member of his high school’s FIRST Robotics team. He became the team’s lead programmer last year.

“FIRST helps you work in a team environment, sharing ideas with creative people that you may not normally work with from other classes,” Bair says. “It also helped me apply some of the concepts I had been learning in class. It put things into perspective for me.”

Bair’s interest in engineer grew along his FIRST and Project Lead the Way journeys. He learned about Rose-Hulman through its No. 1 undergraduate engineering college ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college guide. A campus visit and the institute’s nearly 100-percent job placement rate helped convince him that the private college was the best fit to achieve his STEM career goals.

“I saw the interaction of the people on campus,” he says. “Being from a small town, I had thought that I would like to go to a large school. However, once I visited campus, I knew Rose-Hulman was the best college for me.”

Bair’s college career got off to a quick start by completing all of Rose-Hulman’s first-year calculus courses in five weeks through the Fast-Track Calculus program. That earned him 15 hours of academic credit and the ability to take sophomore-level mathematics courses during the freshman year. He is also looking forward to a summer internship with Therma-Tru Doors in its facility in Butler, Indiana.