Happy New Year everyone! Each new year invites us to simultaneously reflect on the past, while looking ahead and planning for the future. There have been many exciting changes at RIM recently, and many more that will occur over the next few years, and today I'd like to highlight a few of our past successes and share with you a look at our future.
The Past Five Years
It's difficult to believe, but RIM turned 5 in 2017! Looking back to our founding, we set out to inspire youth to gain a new perspective on science and technology by providing opportunities and resources for robotics programs. The idea was simple: we would sponsor the creation of new VEX and FIRST robotics teams throughout the state. We saw that it takes a lot of money and mentorship to start a competitive robotics team, and there was an unfair concentration of both in a very small geographic location in our state. RIM was created to help level the playing field, to give all students in Maine from Aroostook County down to York County the opportunity to compete in one of these programs, and therefore get the chance to experience hands-on learning in STEM.
We had set a five-year goal of doubling the number of students in robotics programs throughout Maine. We felt that by increasing the presence of these programs, we would naturally begin to extend our reaches further out and further into the state. And extend we did! By the 2016-2017 robotics season, we had expanded to nearly 130 teams, reaching more than 1,250 students each year. This far surpassed our growth goal, tripling the number of Maine students engaging in hands-on STEM learning over the past five years in 68 communities!
Of course, RIM alone cannot take credit for this great success. Our generous sponsors over these past five years were instrumental to our success in funding rookie teams and sustaining veterans. Our employees and volunteers have worked day after day to drive robotics into schools and to being these competitions into visibility at the State level. So to anyone and everyone who has interacted with RIM over these past years, I just want to extend my sincere thanks for your contribution. We wouldn't be here without your support.
Today, we are actively engaged in making some improvements to RIM to ensure that we continue to serve our community in the best way possible. Firstly, you may notice that we have updated our website! This was long overdue, and it comes with a few interesting changes.
Obviously, our blog is active once again! We hope to use this blog as a platform to share developments at RIM with the community at large. Additionally, we would like this to be a resource for students to come and get help on their robots. To that end, if any team or student has a great tutorial on setting up a RoboRio, or a "how to" on programming in RobotC, or anything best practices your team might like to share with the rest of the community, please reach out to us! We'll work with you to get a blog ready for posting.
We also realize that we have been more out of touch that we'd like with those we claim to serve. To that end, we're establishing a FIRST Committee and and VEX Committee at RIM. Their purpose will be to stay in touch with their respective communities and ensure that RIM is doing all we can to help grow robotics in Maine. We have established mailing lists that serve to connect all FIRST and all VEX mentors together, so that news can be distributed quickly and efficiently. If you're interested in joining either committee or listening in / joining the discussion via a listserv, please check out the Contact Us page!
One of the most exciting developments that came with our new website is the ability to accept donations online! Check out our Ways to Help page for more information, and stay tuned for further exciting developments on that front!
The Next Five Years
So where will we go from here? That's a great question! We are in the process of forming new five year goals, and we look forward to sharing them with you once they're locked in place. For now, please let us know how we can help your team, and good luck this season!
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