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Thursday, January 16, 2020

MSU student gives back to youth robotics program that led her to engineering | MSU News Service

Haley Ketteler, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, arrived at studying engineering by way of participating in FIRST, an international program that organizes robotics competitions like the one MSU hosts each year by Marshall Swearingen, Communications Specialist at Montana State University.
Haley Ketteler, a senior in mechanical engineering, volunteers with the MSU-hosted FIRST robotics tournament to give kids the same opportunities that led her to study engineering.
Photo: Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez
When Haley Ketteler reflects on how she came to study engineering at Montana State University, one moment stands out. She was 10, in her hometown of Pierre, South Dakota, at a 4-H workshop where kids could tinker with robots made of Legos.

"I was hooked, which was funny because I'd never done anything like that before," said Ketteler, now a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in mechatronics. "It was just that little spark. I knew I wanted to keep doing this."

She found a home for her newfound robotics passion in an international nonprofit organization called For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, which is designed to inspire interest in science, technology engineering and math among K-12 students. When MSU hosts nearly 120 teams from across Montana and beyond for a FIRST robotics competition this Friday and Saturday, Ketteler will be there as a volunteer, supporting the activity that led her to where she is today...

"Haley’s experience with FIRST is a common one for our students in engineering and computer science, and that's one of the main reasons we host the state championship each year," said Christine Foreman, associate dean in MSU's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering. Students as young as 6 may meet their first engineer at the tournament and discover a love for STEM, she said.