Mentoring the future

Igniting passion through technology

Ferris welding engineering technology junior and FIRST President Victoria Funke will be celebrating Halloween with members of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics registered student organization (RSO).

An RSO dedicated to the mentorship and growth of students K-12 who are interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), FIRST will be hosting a pumpkin smash event noon – 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, in the North Quad. During this time, students will have the opportunity to destroy a pumpkin with a weapon provided by FIRST. These weapons include a crowbar, hammer, sledgehammer, metal pipe, baseball bat and pool noodle.

“The pumpkin smash is an event we have wanted to do for a while. Not only is it placed in between midterms and finals so any variation of stress can be released, it is also just something fun. I’m excited to see pumpkin guts go everywhere. I believe we are trying to get a Tickle Me Elmo, and if anyone can destroy a pumpkin with a pool noodle we’ll pay them,” Funke said.

With a $5 pumpkin fee, the RSO hopes to use the money raised for other events to compete in a collegiate-level competition where members of FIRST will build a robot in three days and compete against other FIRST alumni groups.

“We’re trying to challenge ourselves to show the high schoolers that this can be done,” Ferris welding engineering technology junior and FIRST Vice President Mike Mischley said.

Mischley is valuing the time he’s spent with this RSO impacting the lives of future engineers and said he enjoys “getting to see the light click on in someone’s eyes when they actually understand what you’re talking about.”

Mischley is excited to raise money for this competition and can’t wait to see what weapons students choose when smashing their pumpkin.

“I really want to see someone go to town on a pumpkin with a pool noodle,” Mischley said.

Ferris elementary education freshman and FIRST Secretary Lilian Gray has learned a lot in her time with the RSO. Being involved with robotics since she joined a team her freshman year of high school, Gray believes that FIRST creates a positive environment for students and a chance to meet new people.

“ Through robotics, I’ve learned so many skills: from building to bettering my presentation skills and teamwork. It’s given me so many more opportunities from friendships to my career. I’m majoring in elementary education, and thanks to the RSO, I’m currently working with an elementary robotics team,” Gray said.

Mentoring students for a couple hundred hours per semester, FIRST is always looking for potential new members or volunteers to help with events.

“You just need a desire to introduce and teach kids about STEM or just an interest to build things and get involved,” Funke said.

For more information on the pumpkin smash or FIRST, contact Funke at or Mischley at

FIRST members pose with some of their favorite weapons that will be used in the pumpkin smash event Friday, Oct. 26. Photo by: Hunter Pariseau I Interim Photographer