Tom Bode Speaks at Columbus FIRST Robotics Competition District Qualifier Opening Ceremony


Tom Bode, general manager, Columbus Engine Center, delivered remarks at the opening ceremony of the Columbus, Georgia FIRST® Robotics Competition District Qualifier on March 11.

Pratt & Whitney's parent company United Technologies Corporation (UTC) has partnered with FIRST Robotics for more than 20 years, contributing more than $7 million to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals throughout that time. This season, more than 250 UTC employees (112 of them from Pratt & Whitney) will volunteer for FIRST as mentors, judges and event volunteers.

Full Text Remarks, as Prepared for Delivery:

Good morning. I'm Tom Bode, general manager of Pratt & Whitney's Columbus Engine Center. Welcome to the Columbus FIRST Robotics Competition District Qualifier. I'm delighted to be here on behalf of Pratt & Whitney and our parent company, United Technologies Corporation or UTC.

At Pratt & Whitney, we are focused on innovation and performance – it's how we develop, manufacture and maintain the world's best and most advanced aircraft engines, including right here in Columbus.

Through community programs and partnerships we seek to inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists, manufacturers. Our partnership with FIRST is an example of one of these programs – and I hope all you all in this room will become part of the next generation of STEM leaders.

2016 marks UTC's 21st consecutive year as a sponsor and supporter of FIRST, both nationally and internationally. This season, more than 100 Pratt & Whitney employees are serving as FIRST mentors – and UTC overall is supporting more than 200 teams across the U.S. and Canada.

I'm proud to say that includes FIRST Robotics right here in Columbus, Georgia – as a sponsor of this event and through our employees' mentorship of Columbus Space Program, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 4188.

Now, Team 4188 has a great story from last year, and they can teach us all a little bit about hard work and persistence. The team went from last place in their first event in 2015 to closing the season with a top 100 world rank, out of more than 2,900 teams.

I'd like to recognize the three Pratt & Whitney engineers who have mentored Team 4188 over the past few years – Ken Rodriguez, Ricardo Madrigal and William Bishop. You are shining examples of the way Pratt & Whitney employees across the globe generously give their time, talent and expertise to positively impact the community.

Though your mentors are here to help and guide you, students, never forget how much you impact your mentors – you encourage them to be their best, challenge them in new ways and, of course, feed their competitive spirits.

I know all of you in this room embody FIRST's values of gracious professionalism and coopertition®, because you've made it this far – may you keep them in mind over the next couple days. Good luck, have fun, and let the games begin!