SolidWorks Opens WPI First Robotics Championship (FRC) Qualifying Event

Marie Presents at WPI FRC Event

First Robotics Championship (FRC) qualifying events exploded with excitement this weekend as high school teams prepared for their place in the District Events and the FRC World Championship in April.  Yesterday I opened the WPI District Qualifying Event in Worcester, MA in front of 40 teams from New England.

Earning a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute –  WPI has given me the opportunity to work with students all over the world.  But nowhere on earth is there more creative energy at 9 AM in the morning than at WPI’s FRC field.

Being part of the SolidWorks Education community and the largest 3DExperience software company in the world, Dassault Systemes, allows me an opportunity to work with FIRST Robotics teams. This year, SolidWorks achieved FIRST Crown Sponsorship by supplying hundreds of FIRST teams SolidWorks software, tutorials and the ever important FRC Kit of Parts.

I asked teams to do some more homework – simply share what they have done with robots and what they have learned with a little girl.  WPI has done a great job recruiting women into engineering – but it is all our responsibility to start earlier.    Even toddlers understand simple machines, a lever, a wheel, and pushing a button on the iPad.

Judges Prepare with Ken

The toughest job at this event is to sit at the judges table.  Once again, Dean Cook from SolidWorks took on this difficult role to judge these talented teams.  I got to visit with WPI’s robotics director Ken Stafford.  Assistant Director,  Colleen Shaver skillfully managed this event.

Marie with Randy Inspector Robots

My friend Randy, now lead inspector for the WPI event is from Northeastern University.  Northeastern is also hosting a FRC qualifying event March 28/29 in Boston.

FIRST is not about 1 winner.  It is about working as a team, forming strategic alliances, gracious professionalism, and celebrating science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

FIRST Scholarships

As FIRST has grown, so too have the college scholarships awarded to FIRST students.  In four weeks, at the Boston First Regional, one lucky student will receive the WPI/SolidWorks scholarship.

FRC 811 Gives Pins for PI

It is great to walk around the arena and have students share with me how much they love SolidWorks.  I got a great pin from Team 811, The Cardinals,  Bishop Guertin High School.  Where else would you get a rapid prototype team pin and Pi pin on Pi day (3.14 – March 14)?

Marie with Brad Controls Advisor

I also have to thank Brad Miller  and his student TJ Watson (busy as a referee) who helped connect me with FIRST to develop a great kit of parts and the Kitbot.  I know there will be more great projects with WPI in the future.

I also got a chance to talk to mentors, teachers and students throughout the day on how they used SolidWorks to design their robot.  The best place to learn is in the Robot Pits.

FRC 157  Aztechs

First I talked to FRC 157 Aztechs.  I have visited their school a lot – great machine shop!

FRC238 CruisinCrusaders

Next it was FRC238 CruisinCrusaders.  Great to see so many girls on their team.

FRC 1100 T Hawks Mentors

With FRC 1100 T Hawks, I got to share some ideas about their design with their mentors

FRC 1100 T Hawks

and some future great engineers.

FRC 2423 KwarQs Scaled Mechanism

FRC 2423 KwarQs gave a great illustration of their 1/3 scaled mechanism they design in SolidWorks to prove their concept of perfectly throwing a ball – before building the full scale model.  Worked great.

FRC 2423 KwarQs

The best part was talking to the students about great engineering colleges they would be attending in the Fall.  One mentor,  Campbell, now an engineering student at University of Maine,  came all the way to WPI to help out.

FRC 3205 Patriots

Team 3205 The Patriots loved using SolidWorks.

FRC 3205 Patriots SolidWorks Button

One of their designer was proud to show me his SolidWorks NAO robot pin.

 FRC 1735 Green Reapers

A few years ago I met young team, FRC 1735 Green Reapers, their mentors got to show me how the team has grown with great wiring and assembly – their robot looked really neat.


FRC 1735 is also mentored by WPI,  You can’t miss them in their green capes.

Years ago when WPI started with FIRST, FRC 190 competed in the first FRC event that has become legendary. They continue to grow and support many teams.

I can’t wait to go to the next FRC event.  Find out more about SolidWorks FIRST Sponsorship at  Thank you WPI!  Marie


Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard