NNS volunteer Isaac Wigfall was among the 48 shipbuilders who supported the event. Photo by Ashley Cowan

NNS Supports FIRST Robotics Championships

Published April 19, 2022

Middle and high school robotics teams from across Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia gathered at the Hampton Coliseum last week for the 2022 FIRST Chesapeake Robotics District Championships.

Student teams conceptualized, designed, built, programmed, modified and tested remote-controlled robots to participate in the competition. Teams began with a common core set of parts but determined on their own how to accomplish tasks.

The Newport News Shipbuilding-sponsored event included 140 teams and was supported by 48 NNS employee volunteers. Student participants competed for a chance to go up against robotics teams from around the world at the FIRST Championship this week in Houston.

NNS volunteers performed a variety of duties to ensure the three-day event was a success. Brian Tapajna (X51) was a game announcer. This was his first year volunteering, and he was pleased to see “the workforce of the future” in action.

“I hope these students take away that all things are possible,” he said. “The future is bright, and they can provide some creative solutions and make the world a better place.”

Isaac Wigfall (X23), who was the master of ceremonies, has volunteered for the event in the past. He said it’s important for shipbuilders to pass along their knowledge to the generations to come – including the students participating in the FIRST competition.

“It’s very important for them to understand the opportunities that are in front of them,” he said. “They can use the things they’ve done in the competition to propel their future. They just need to know the options that they’re able to take.”

First-time volunteer Mikal Lee (E26) was floor reset during the event, working to clear the Coliseum floor before and after robot matches. He said it’s important for shipbuilders to be involved because they could be role models for students. “It means a lot to be able to give back to my community and youth and be a part of a good organization like this,” Lee said. “We are seeing future shipbuilders come up through these events.”

The event was open to the public. To show student participants and other guests the technology NNS uses, the company’s MX trailer was open for visitors outside the Coliseum. Representatives from NNS Talent Acquisition also were on-site to share employment opportunities.