FIRST® in Texas Talks


FIRST in Texas Talks is a series of interview sessions hosted by Susan Ashmore, Development Director with statewide partners, volunteers, mentors, community and business leadership to inform and educate participants on all things FIRST in the state of Texas.  The goal is to offer career, education and technical insight to students as they navigate their educational and workforce journey.


Featured Talk


The Future of Work with Dell Technologies



Engineering Career Pathways

When it comes to STEM careers, engineers are in high demand. From electrical to mechanical to chemical engineering (to name a few) the opportunities for an exciting career is available to engineer-inspired FIRST program participants.

On the inaugural FIRST in Texas Talks Susan Ashmore, Development Director for FIRST in Texas, speaks with engineers from three of our statewide parters about their educational and workforce experience: Shelley Rueff is a Chemical Engineer with Bechtel,  Elissa Lindquist-Sher is an Automotive Hardware Applications Engineer with Texas Instruments, and April Riddett is a Product Manager with NI.

FIRST in Texas Talks Partner Panel: Engineering Career Pathways

Cyber Security

The more connected our society becomes the more demand there is for cyber security experts to ensure that data and networks are secure. In this session of FIRST in Texas Talks, the focus is on careers and workforce opportunities inside the world of cyber security.

We will hear from two cyber security experts from our statewide partners: Jarrett Cravey of Accenture Federal and Alexander Klepal of Booz Allen Hamilton who are uniquely qualified to discuss the path students can take from graduation to a career in cyber security.

Cyber Security Program for the FIRST in Texas Talks


With graduation season upon us, students are in the final stages of making plans for the next phase of their lives.
In this FIRST in Texas Talks session, Development Director, Susan Ashmore speaks with Lori Knight, Education Outreach Manager and Malisa Barnes, Education Outreach Specialist with our statewide partner, Texas Workforce Commission to take a look at all of the opportunities available to graduating seniors in Texas.

FIRST in Texas Talks - Beyond Graduation Program

Tech talk: FRC Driver Station

In this session of FIRST in Texas Talks take a deep dive into the FIRST Robotics Competition Driver Station.
Join Development Director, Susan Ashmore as she speaks with a April Riddett from statewide partner, NI about the most common FRC Driver Station troubleshooting tech tips such as:  What information is available in the Driver Station? What does this information tell me about my robot? How do I troubleshoot my robot with the Driver Station? Learn the answers to these questions and more as April does a deep dive into the most frequently asked questions.
FIRST in Texas Tech Talk: Troubleshooting FRC Driver Station Panelist Program

Powering Texas

When it comes to powering large cities and rural areas, CPS Energy, Xcel Energy, and Oncor know a thing or two about STEM topics that are of great interest to our FIRST program participants. CPS Energy,  Xcel Energy, and Oncor are more than just providers of electricity to residents and businesses in their respective service areas.

Which is why we are especially thrilled to speak with representatives from our statewide partners: Cristina Duarte is the Manager of Education & Mentoring programs with CPS Energy, Keaton Irons is the Operations Recruiter for Field Services in Texas and New Mexico with Xcel Energy, and Justin Loth is the Rotational Manager III with Oncor.

Join Susan Ashmore as she discovers the “more than electricity” aspect of CPS Energy, Xcel Energy, and Oncor in this informative powering Texas interview session.

FIRST in Texas Talks Panelist Program - Cristina Duarte of CPS Energy Keaton Irons of Xcel Energy Justin Loth of Oncor


When it comes to the electricity that powers homes and businesses, many of us are unaware of exactly how that electricity is produced or the process and systems which make it available at the flip of switch.

To show customers exactly how power goes from the source to direct distribution in homes and business, CPS Energy and Zpryme developed an augmented reality (AR) app, Electrify San Antonio. The purpose of this app is to educate and inform the public about the multiple ways power is produced and managed to make and keep electricity available for homes and businesses.

Join Susan Ashmore for this special FIRST in Texas Talks to learn more about the soon to be released app as well as the education and workforce opportunities in AR/VR for students.

FIRST in Texas Talks - Energy Distribution Panelist Program

Essential Career Skills

Essential skills also called soft skills and emotional intelligence skills are something that FIRST program participants are familiar with. It’s the ‘more than robots’ part of being on a robotics team.

In this FIRST in Texas Talks you’ll hear from workforce professionals from our statewide partners and supporters: BAE Systems, Flowserve, and Lockheed Martin. They will share the types of essential skills which are in high demand and tips for education and career success.

Join Susan Ashmore for a FIRST in Texas Talks that will be highly informative for FIRST program participants as well as the FIRST in Texas statewide community.

Essential Career Skills - FIRST in Texas Talks Panelist Program

Women Are FIRST in Texas

The event is for young women participating in either FIRST Tech Challenge or FIRST Robotics Competition programs. This virtual event provides an opportunity for the young women to learn more about STEM careers from women professionals.

Women Are FIRST in Texas 2020 Agenda and Panelist Program

STEM CAREER PANEL DISCUSSION: Professional Women in STEM share their education and career experiences followed by a Q&A session moderated by Susan Ashmore – Development Director, FIRST in Texas.

Christi Marrufo – Applied Materials
Jo Torkington – Bechtel
Duvelza Saenz – Booz Allen Hamilton
Jennifer Lange – Accenture Federal
Karen Rolirad – Alamo AFCEA

These Women in STEM professionals represent several of our statewide partners and area sponsors, Applied Materials, Bechtel, Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture Federal, and Alamo AFCEA. During the Virtual 8th Annual Women Are FIRST in Texas event they shared advice and insight from their educational decisions to their career pathways and much more.


Panelist Bio and Session Time Codes listed below

Mentoring students has an impact on both mentors and mentees. In this FIRST in Texas Talks session we hear about the mentorship experience from our statewide partner, Texas Instruments who support FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition robotics teams in North Texas.

FIRST in Texas Talks Mentorship panelists from statewide partner Texas Instruments


2:49 How would you describe your mentorship style?

5:28 What are the skillsets required to be a mentor?

9:15 What do you do to bring out the best in students?

12:46 How do you encourage innovative ideas and solutions?

15:30 & 22:30 How do ensure girls have equal access to learn technical skills?

17:09 How do you guide a student without completing a task for them?

26:18 How do you assess what a student needs from you? 28:50 How do you deliver feedback to a student?

32:30 What do you do when you cannot answer a student’s question?

35:14 What is the best advice you can give to a student who wants to further their education after high school or to get a job?

38:37 What is your best method to inspire students?

43:37 Is there any other advice you would want to give students or adults who want to become mentors?

Audience Question

49:27 How do you deal with a toxic or disruptive student who derail conversations or tasks?

Special thanks to the panelists from our statewide partner Texas Instruments for sharing their knowledge and expertise on the topic of mentorship. To learn more about how your organization can mentor the next generation of leaders and innovators in Texas visit:

The Future of Work

Panelist Bio and Session Time Codes listed below

When it comes to the topic of the future of work we asked our FIRST in Texas program participants to send in questions for this special FIRST in Texas Talks with our statewide partner Dell Technologies. Here are a few of the questions they sent in:

What does the future of work look like?

What are some of the career options FIRST in Texas alumni will have available to them?

What about AI & robots?

Hear the answers to these questions and more about how FIRST program participants (and alumni) can best prepare for the 21st Century workforce.

Future of Work panelist program with speaker bio and photos for FIRST in Texas Talks with Dell Technologies


Time Codes:

5:27 What are the current jobs that no longer exist or have been outsourced to machines based on the advancements in technology?

6:41 Will the robots and machine take away all of our jobs?

11:03 What will be the jobs in the next 10 years?

17:11 Artificial Intelligence (AI), algorithms, and efficiency

23:27 Working together: the potential human + AI job opportunities

30:04 AI Fluency what it is and why it is important

31:40 Top Skills needed in 2030

34:58 How will new jobs change the way schools teach education?

36:22 How will I learn new technology?

38:46 Will the road to the future be a humane one?

A special thanks to Janine Wegner and Francisco Garcia for their highly informative talk on the Future of Work.