The Power of Robotics by Stephen Cross


At Florida Power & Light Company, we’re working with the communities we serve to help make Florida an even better place to work and raise a family. One way we do this is by supporting education programs that spark interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers and help break down barriers to opportunities for Florida’s students. I personally understand the significance of these opportunities. Like some engineers at our company, I was first introduced to STEM through my FPL-sponsored high school robotics team, which fueled my interest in the field of engineering.

Robotics programs give students the chance to creatively problem-solve, collaborate and achieve a common goal, all while gaining a fundamental understanding of engineering. FPL is a major supporter of robotics programs throughout the elementary, middle and high school levels. Currently, we sponsor 70 teams from start-ups to established robotics clubs, as well as several robotics competitions for all age levels. We also support regional competitions such as South Florida FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and other smaller competitions like the Tech Challenge and LEGO League events. During these tournaments, students learn how to approach and creatively solve complex challenges with robots they designed.

Once a student has completed two years on a robotics team, FPL offers high school seniors the opportunity to apply for a $20,000 college scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to one student annually who possesses strong academic achievements, a passion for robotics and engineering as well as exceptional leadership qualities.

Many FPL employees volunteer their time to mentor students who participate on robotics teams and other STEM-related extracurricular activities. It’s one of the ways we also get to give back to the community. Recently, FPL/NextEra Energy (NEE) information technology employees volunteered their time and talent to participate in an Hour of Code™ at local schools. The initiative, organized by Computer Science Education Week, was designed to introduce millions of students around the globe to one hour of computer science and computer programming. Students took part in an interactive technology workshop featuring a coding activity, robotics demonstration and a rocket engineering exercise. Students learned about problem-solving, logic and creativity, boosting their readiness for tomorrow’s success. For our employee volunteers, it was more than just an hour of coding. It was an opportunity to share our experiences with these students and hopefully inspire in them the same love for technology that we at FPL have, for cultivating the next generation of talent for our state.

I am proud to work for a company that is so invested in helping students be better prepared for the high-tech and well-paying jobs of the future.