“Gracious Professionalism” and “Cooperation”—two of the core values that Dave Ellis lives by as the president of FIRST Robotics Canada. His mission, as was that of FIRST Robotics Canada’s co-founder, Mark Breadner, is the same as that for which the acronym stands: “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” Dave is passionate about what he calls a “holistic experience” for children aged 4 to 18 that teaches a myriad of technological and soft skills “that prepare them for life.”
Dave’s role is to oversee strategic planning for the Canadian arm of FIRST Robotics, a global organization created to inspire kids, and excite them about STEM. Formulated as “sports for the mind,” they aim to not only teach the kids about technology and prepare them to be the workforce of tomorrow, but also how to interact ethically with others in that workforce. Robotics competitions are a key part of the organization, with a different theme each year involving real-world challenges for the kids to solve using robots that they design, build, and program with the assistance of their mentors. FIRST partners with LEGO for the younger children, and their teen programs include designing and manufacturing skills using CAD and 3D printing or machining to create parts for the robots. Here, Dave says, is where the “magic happens,” when the kids and mentors come together as a team, experiencing the cooperation the organization is built on, and learning skills they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
President — FIRST Robotics Canada
LinkedIn: Dave Ellis