We’re proud of the work we do here in house at MuShield and of the work our invaluable employees do within our surrounding community as well. A prime example of this has been recently highlighted by Tom Paquin, one of our Applications Engineers here who has spent the better part of the last decade mentoring the FIRST robotics team at Memorial High School in MuShield’s neighboring town of Manchester, New Hampshire. Paquin is also a 2005 graduate of Memorial, so it’s very cool that he’s taken it upon himself to give back to the school and community he literally grew up in.
The Memorial FIRST Robotics team just had a strong showing at the world championships last month in Detroit, Michigan – setting a school best in the competition.
Read more about it here:
Tom sat down for a little Q&A session to gather more insight into his role and what he appreciates about working with Memorial High’s students year in and year out…
Let’s start from the beginning:
What got you in to robotics and engineering?
I was always a hands-on builder as a kid. I was not familiar with engineering as a career path until I was introduced to FIRST Robotics in high school. You might say that it was a game changer for me on a personal level.
How did this experiences help forge your path and ultimately lead you to a position at MuShield?
I was hooked after my first meeting with the Memorial team. By the time I graduated high school I knew mechanical engineering was what I was going to pursue in college. After graduating from the University of Connecticut I got a job back in southern NH which allowed me to reconnect with my old team. Eventually it was time to move on from my previous employer, however I did not want to venture too far so that I could continue to mentor the team. That search led me to finding MuShield.
How long have you been mentoring them?
I have now been mentoring for 8-9 years.
What do you appreciate about being able to “give back” to the community in this way (as well as your former high school)? Why’d you get involved? What do you get from partaking in these events?
These all tie together. I would not have ended up where I am today without the FIRST Robotics program. The team gave me valuable life lessons, lifelong friends, and incredible experiences I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. As much as I enjoy working with the kids on the robot, the opportunities this program provides are invaluable and I feel compelled to give back in turn. There is a quote amongst the mentor community of FIRST: “We do not use kids to build robots. We use robots to build kids.” While the program emphasizes spreading STEM education it also promotes strong relationships, teamwork, time management, and gracious professionalism. At the end of the day my true goal is to help make the students better as individuals.
What do you appreciate about MuShield “having your back” and helping to support these types of endeavors?
MuShield has been amazing in the support they have given me and the team since I joined the MuShield team. MuShield has provided sponsorship funds to the team, as well as being understanding of the time I need to take off to attend competitions halfway across the country. The biggest support they have offered comes in the access to the shop equipment during our build season (a new robot gets built every year). I’m grateful for their involvement and ongoing interest in my journey of working with these kids.
MuShield is so excited about the accomplishments Memorial High School’s FIRST robotics team achieved this year and looks forward to continued excellence and growth as we maintain our support on through the years of the school, and the students within our community who are interested in mechanical engineering and design. Healthy partnerships lead to healthy communities and with healthy communities, the future is bright!