HARLINGEN, RGV – Patrick Felty is the newly appointed executive director for FIRST in Texas and hopes to grow these programs throughout the state.

Felty was profiled in the most recent Solutions newsletter of the Texas Workforce Commission.

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Prior to becoming executive director, Felty was the development director for FIRST in Texas as well as the regional director for South Texas in the Alamo region. According to Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Solutions publication, he says he was drawn to FIRST because of the opportunity to continue to help grow the programs in Texas.

“My approach to the role as the Alamo Regional Director was to focus on the overall growth of robotics teams, events and expand on the four programs in the region,” Felty said in the publication. “As the Executive Director of FIRST in Texas, our goals are much the same, to provide a life-changing experience for our participants and establish a foundation of support for FIRST programs for the next generation of innovators.”

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a non-profit organization that focuses on programs to promote innovation and build interest in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. FIRST in Texas was founded in 2010 and FIRST-RGV, a local chapter, was founded in 2015.

According to FIRST, statistics for the past ten years show students who participate in FIRST are:

  • Two times more likely to major in science and/or engineering in college
  • Up to 91 percent more interested in going to college
  • At least one third of females will major in engineering
Patrick Felty

Felty says Texas only had a few hundred teams across the entire state with only a few thousand students involved. Since FIRST in Texas’ partnership with TWC, FIRST in Texas reported having over 2,900 teams in Texas and impacts over 28,000 students.

“The state of Texas is in a state of economic growth through technology and innovation, but we need programs like FIRST to help inspire our students to become the knowledge workers of the future to keep the momentum of economic growth moving forward for future generations,” Felty said.

One collaborative example is between FIRST in Texas and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas (TMMTX) in San Antonio. A majority of the students in FIRST end up being a part of the TMMTX Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program.

“As the students progress through the AMT program, they are often offered employment positions at Toyota,” Felty said. “Many of those employees have now become mentors for FIRST teams and are continuing to help grow the local economy.”