School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. Celebrates Engineers Week

School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. (SBPLI) DBA FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Long Island, has announced it is celebrating Engineers Week, which will be held on February 21-27, by continuing to offer its robotics programs for students ages 6 to 18. SBPLI said that the programs and the competitions have provided an opportunity for the organization to create a future generation of engineers on Long Island.

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NPSE) in 1951, Engineers Week is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers. This special occasion usually falls on the same week when high school robotics teams deliver and drop off their robots to the FIRST Robotics Competition Long Island Regional. However, since last year, the in-person tournament has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has switched to a set of virtual challenges.

SBPLI has hosted tournaments for the FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition. Ever since SBPLI held its first robotics competition in 1999 at Suffolk County Community College, more than 20,000 Long Island students have experienced programs rooted in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with an emphasis on “learning and implementing.”

U.S. FIRST and Brandeis University conducted a study showing that, compared to 59% of students who only took science and technology classes but were not involved in FIRST programs, 89% of FIRST alumni declared a major in STEM by the time they were in tenth grade. The study also showed that, by the time they became sophomores, 70% of FIRST alumni declared a major in engineering or computer science, whereas only 25% of non-FIRST participants did so.

“The purpose of these competitions is to not only get children interested in engineering and technology at an early age, but to have them continue that interest throughout their educational careers and obtain good-paying jobs here on Long Island upon graduating college,” said Bertram Dittmar, Executive Director, SBPLI.

It’s been said that engineers are in high demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth rate for engineers in New York State throughout 2028 is expected to be 4.8%, with the median annual salary being $91,090. Mr. Dittmar said the FIRST Long Island robotics programs create a pipeline of future engineers that help companies meet the demand.

“Over the years, we have FIRST alumni who have performed internships with local technology companies during high school and college,” Mr. Dittmar said. “After they graduated college, some of them had jobs waiting for them at the same places where they interned. This shows SBPLI’s commitment to keeping the best and brightest employed here on Long Island.”