FIRST® in Texas is home to hundreds of teams across the three FIRST® leagues, and not one team is the same as another. We grow to be who we are because of the influence of our communities, and FIRST® teams go a step further. Teams like 4063 out of Del Rio, Texas are a shining example of both Impact and Inclusion. Between their numerous off-season events to engage with their community to their competition travel efforts, 4063 is what FIRST® in Texas is all about.
Currently mentored by Lauren Cardenas and founding mentor Bill Davis, 4063 was born in 2012 when two local engineering teachers were contacted about creating a FIRST® Robotics Competition team. They began as many rookie teams do, working out of a classroom with what tools they had available. The 2016-17 season brought new growth to the team. Their school’s career and technology education expansion came with the opportunity to move into a new, larger practice facility. Before its foundation, the nearest robotics team to Del Rio was a several hour drive away, so not only was 4063 the first team in the city, it was the seed from which a greater STEM community was able to grow.
“I want the students to have fun. I want the students to learn while they’re having fun. I want the kids to do their best.” – Bill Davis, Founding Mentor – Team 4063
From January to April, 4063 does what any team does, compete. The rest of their year is their opportunity to give back to their community. They have built an elementary robotics program built around introducing young minds to robotics and fostering the growth of the next generation of STEM students. Many of the team’s students are involved in this off-season program. Some of the students even help to mentor the local FIRST® Lego League team. Standard years will find 4063 hosting open house events, allowing their whole community a chance to come see the fruits of their hard work and to ask any questions they may have. Having never seen a robotics competition like FIRST® before, many people are unclear what the goals or purpose of teams are. 4063 has made it one of their goals to educate and inspire the community around them.
Many of the students that make up 4063 haven’t had the chance to travel farther from home than San Antonio, a two-and-a-half-hour drive. It has been another goal of the team to compete in at least one out of state competition in every standard year. These trips aren’t all business though, one competition even made way for a visit to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. 4063 has competed in the world championship five times, and always makes sure every student is included in the opportunity to travel.
One experience that stood out to Ms. Cardenas was a local competition several years ago in which a young girl noticed that 4063 had a female drive team member. Before that day, the young girl had no idea that girls could be involved with robotics. That moment inspired her, and she is still a member of the local elementary robotics team today.
4063 is described by some of its students as a family. They grow together, they learn together, and they have fun together. One of their top priorities is to ensure that everyone enjoys the time spent in the program. FIRST® is about a lot of things, but if the students don’t enjoy the experience, what’s the point? “I want the students to have fun. I want the students to learn while they’re having fun. I want the kids to do their best.” Mr. Davis said, and the truth of his statement couldn’t be any more evident. “[The team] opened my eyes to a whole different world,” one student said, “it’s crazy, honestly.”
4063 is just one of many incredible teams across the Texas district and we want to hear from as many as possible. Post your story on Instagram with the hashtag #StoriesFromFIT and you could be our next team spotlight!