Festo Corporation Provides Longtime Support of SBPLI’s Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition

Since 2001, Festo Corporation has been providing financial and technical support to School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc.’s (SBPLI) Long Island Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC). Even when the economy faced its ups and downs, Festo has contributed well over $300,000 to support SBPLI in running this event and other FIRST robotics programs, as well as providing components for the kits of parts that the students nationwide receive at the beginning of the FRC season.

The owners of Festo recognized that education is a key factor in social and economic success and that there is a “corporate education responsibility” that must be met by the company. Taking this cue from the owners, Festo localized this initiative and took notice when SBPLI began the Long Island Regional FRC. The company has not only donated money to SBPLI and supported its programs, but also encouraged employees to volunteer their time.

Frank Langro, Director of Marketing & Product Management, Festo Corporation, has been a judge at the Long Island Regional FRC for more than six years. “It is an event I look forward to every year,” he said. “It is refreshing to see the ‘coopertition’ that goes on each year as established teams go out of their way to support the newer teams, sharing experiences and resources. The concepts of teamwork and ‘gracious professionalism’ are life skills that will stay with these students forever.”

In furthering its relationship with SBPLI, Festo has FRC program alumni perform their internships at the company. In addition, some of its former employees currently act as mentors for the other teams.

Scott Schuler, who previously worked at Festo, has mentored the Hauppauge High School robotics team. “Watching the students grow as individuals, as well as team members, all while learning skills that will help them in their future, has been a truly rewarding experience,” Mr. Schuler said.

At this year’s Long Island Regional FRC, which will take place April 5-6 at Hofstra University, Festo is demonstrating its Bionic Handling Assistant (BHA), also known as the “elephant trunk.” The BHA is a mobile robot that features an omnidirectional “trunk” with an adaptive gripper that can pick up and transport objects. “It should provide a terrific opportunity for the students to see this application of robotics used in the manufacturing industry,” Mr. Langro said.

“Festo is one of several Long Island corporations which has truly stepped up to take a leading role in providing ongoing support of School-Business Partnerships of Long Island and its Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition,” said Joani Madarash, Executive Director, SBPLI. “We are so grateful for their support. It is because of Festo's involvement with our annual robotics competition that more students are becoming excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Its financial contributions also allow us to continue presenting the Long Island Regional FRC, which costs well over $100,000 to host annually.”

For more information on Festo, visit www.festo.com/us. For more information on SBPLI, visit www.sbpli.org