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PAR Systems Employees Mentor FIRST Robotics Competition Teams

What is FIRST Robotics?

FIRST® Robotics Competition teams design, program, and build a robot starting with a standard kit of parts and common set of rules to play in a themed head-to-head challenge. Teams also build a brand, develop community partnerships for support, and work to promote STEM in their local community. Backed by a global network of mentors, coaches, volunteers, alumni, and sponsors, FIRST helps young people discover a passion for STEM and develop skills to enter today’s competitive workforce.

Watch the Robot in Action

How are PAR Employees Involved?

For over 5 years Matt Hess, Senior Controls Engineer at PAR Systems, has been a mentor for the Irish Robotics team– a team from Rosemount, MN that Matt was part of in high school.  During the robot build season Matt meets with the team to provide guidance, support, and expertise to help students develop their skills and knowledge in robotics. He plays a role in teaching technical skills and developing a strategy for competitions including robot design and testing. “Being a part of the FIRST Robotics program in high school played an important part in leading me into my current career”, said Hess. “It is fun to watch the technical skills of the students develop and grow over the course of one or more seasons that they are a part of this program.”


David Waletzko, Principal Systems Engineer at PAR Systems, volunteers along with his wife at team and competition events for the Data Bits high school robotics team from Cottage Grove, MN. Serving as field judges, helping to setup and take down the course the robots compete in (itself a robot in its own right), coordinating team queuing, and helping with the logistics of running these massive events.

"I’ve observed students on the team who are shy and uncomfortable in social situations gain confidence and thrive within the FIRST community."

- David Waletzko, Principal Systems Engineer

“At first our son wasn’t interested in any extracurriculars, but we insisted he join something, and he chose robotics,” said Waletzko. “After just a few months, he absolutely loved it, and is very excited about the entire program.  As one of the programmers, he gets firsthand experience with debugging, mechanical/electrical/software interactions, working on a team to solve problems, and fixing things under pressure when the robot breaks down during a match.”


Waletzko goes on to say, “I’ve observed students on the team who are shy and uncomfortable in social situations gain confidence and thrive within the FIRST community.  They use the terms Coopertition and Gracious Professionalism which encourages the teams to display unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition is the philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.”


This year’s robots must manipulate two very different objects- beachball like cubes, and hard rubber cones- and balance on tipping platforms.

Data Bits Robot in FIRST Robotics Competition

This year’s robots must manipulate two very different objects- beachball like cubes, and hard rubber cones- and balance on tipping platforms

Irish Robotics team robot

Each member brings unique perspective to the table when discussing build strategy and adjustments through the season

Data Bits Robot

Teams rely on sponsorships and mentors through the season to support STEM opportunities for every student

Why FIRST Robotics?

PAR Systems strongly believes in giving back to the communities in which we work and live. Each year we commit a percentage of our revenue toward charitable giving. By helping to engineer better futures within our local communities, we can help grow future technicians and engineers, partner with community education organizations to tackle inequalities and stereotypes in our society and help grow STEM knowledge.


FIRST Robotics logo
Irish Robotics Logo
Databits Logo

Robotics teams are beneficial for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs for a variety of reasons:


  • Hands-on learning: Robotics teams provide students with the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical setting. Students get to build, program and test robots, which helps them develop a deeper understanding of concepts related to physics, math, and computer science.
  • Teamwork and collaboration: Robotics teams often involve students working in groups to solve problems and complete tasks. This promotes teamwork and collaboration skills, which are important for success in STEM fields and in the workforce.
  • Creative problem-solving: Robotics competitions often require students to think creatively to solve complex problems. This encourages students to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to challenges they encounter.
  • Exposure to technology: Robotics teams give students the opportunity to work with and learn about cutting-edge technologies, such as sensors, motors, and microcontrollers. This helps prepare students for a future in STEM fields where knowledge of these technologies is essential.
  • Competitive spirit: Robotics competitions can be intense, but they can also be a lot of fun. Competing with other teams encourages students to strive for excellence and can help them develop a strong work ethic and determination to succeed.



To learn more about FIRST Robotics visit