Robots, STEM, and Community: Supporting Foothill Robotics Club’s Dreams

Richard Li, IT Technical Project Manager at Simpson Strong-Tie and a parent of a student involved with Foothill Robotics Club, recognized the potential for Simpson Strong-Tie to support the local community by sponsoring the club. Our commitment to giving back is a fundamental aspect of our core values. The club serves as an excellent gateway for students to delve into the world of STEM and engage in VEX robotic competitions. Learn how the team visited our Pleasanton, California office and even gave a demonstration of their robot. 

My son, Edwin talked to me at the end of the summer break that his Robotics club was looking for sponsors. I told him I would check with my company since for the past 16 months I’ve been with Simpson Strong-Tie, I’ve seen it very active in supporting the local community with such as Habitat for Humanity, giving out student scholarships, and inviting students to visit our offices and factory sites. Later, my son found that Simpson Strong-Tie actually sponsored the Pleasanton Foothill High School’s robotic club back in 2009.   

Demonstrating how the robot works

Our VP of Information Technology, Greg Taylor agreed to the sponsorship and even told me, “The education of our children is paramount to the success of all of us in the future. To give the next generation an opportunity to excel and find their passion is high on our list of priorities.”  It was a win-win for me, and I can happily say that the IT Team is sponsoring the 2023-24 Foothill High School Robotics Team.

The VEX competition team participated in a competition at the San Ramon Dougherty Valley High School.
The VEX competition team participated in a competition at the San Ramon Dougherty Valley High School.

This team is made up of local 9–12th graders interested in technology and robot completions. The club’s mission is to foster interest and knowledge in engineering through an inclusive, hands-on, and competitive experience for students in our local community. The robotic club’s goals are to motivate students to be interested in STEM, provide opportunities for students to gain technological knowledge & leadership skills, and participate in VEX robotic competitions. VEX Robotics competition equips participants to become future innovators, with a remarkable 95% reporting heightened interest in STEM subjects and pursuing related careers. 

Pleasanton Robotics Club Presenting to CEO, Mike Olosky and CFO Brian Magstadt
Pleasanton Robotics Club Presenting to CEO, Mike Olosky and CFO Brian Magstadt

When the club members arrived at our Pleasanton, California office, eight members of the Robotics Club started their visit by presenting their mission, goal and challenges. Then, they demonstrated their VEX competition robot to about thirty employees, including our CEO Mike Olosky and CFO Brian Magstadt, and answered any questions they had. After the event, one of the students told me “Your employees made us feel at home and contributed to our excitement through their genuine curiosity and questions.” 

After the demonstration, students visited our Karen Colonias Research Lab, where they got to talk with our engineers and see how we test our products. “The passion your engineers exhibited was inspiring to see,” another student said to me. “It reminded us that our love for robotics has real-world applications and renewed our excitement for our futures as prospective engineers.”

Foothill Robotics Club's robot
Foothill Robotics Club’s robot

With our sponsorship, the club will be able to upgrade its outdated training materials, tools, and robotic equipment. It hopes to expand its membership by more than 20 students and hold weekly training and robot build sessions for club members to learn robotics technology. They also plan to engage a core team to compete all the way to the VEX Robotics World Championships. This is our next-gen technology wizards and I’m excited that Simpson Strong-Tie is a part of it. 

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