Thomas Lawe: Building Robots, Building Community

Thomas Lawe: Building Robots, Building Community

2:07pm Jul 29, 2014
Jaylen-Rose Clark talks with NC FIRST participant Thomas Lawe
Molly Davis

As interest in robotics grows around the world, the non-profit program NC FIRST helps students get more involved. NC FIRST helps young people discover their love for science and technology. As well as exposing teens to robotics, it explores other fields that are connected to science and technology that are not always considered. Thomas Lawe is an early college student who is part of the program. Radio Camper Jalyn-Rose talked to him about his experience.

Thomas and I walked to find a seat out of the sun and away from noise. As we sat down, I asked him about his life outside of NC FIRST and if NC FIRST practices and competitions conflict with it.

Sometimes, yeah, it’s a major time commitment. Normally, it’s only a couple of hours per week after school, but during the build season, which is six weeks starting in January after we get our challenge, we have six weeks to build, design,test, and practice with the robot, so that’s a major time commitment, and I spend pretty much all of my free time at our build space working on the robot.
After we found that our table top was scorching hot from the sun, I asked if he would recommend the program to teens that have not had exposure to technology. 
Absolutely. If you don’t have history with working with this kind of stuff, it’s a great opportunity to get interested in it, and the teams will teach you and get you adjusted internally. And it’s not just engineering-type stuff that’s done there. There are programming groups in the team as well our outreach branch, [which] includes people looking at things like journalism or speechwriting and stuff, because the team - it’s not just building the robot, it’s going out into the community and spreading the message about [NC] First and helping other people with things they need to do.

As Thomas talked more about his work with NC FIRST, I became intrigued to learn more. Thomas told me about competing against a team from the Netherlands and others around the globe. To find more about NC FIRST, go to

For 88.5 WFDD Radio Camp, I'm Jalyn-Rose Clark.