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Michael Miller with entire FIRST group at the Space Force

Out of more than 200 applicants, Miller was one of 24 chosen to attend the 11th Annual US Air Force/FIRST Leadership Experience for FIRST Teachers and Mentors this summer in Florida and now he’s bringing back his new knowledge to his robotics students, “It was a great experience that I am thankful to be a part of,” Miller says.

Miller is the lead mentor for both the middle school and high school robotics teams. “I learned so much during this experience,” Miller says. “I learned more about the US Air Force and Space Force and how they connect to our daily lives; learned more about the opportunities for our students through the Air Force and Space Force; had leadership training from both of those branches and connected with other FIRST Robotics mentors and teachers from around the country.” Attendees were from 17 different states.

During this experience he visited several sites: 

  • At the Patrick Space Force Base, the group received leadership training and toured the “MakerSpace” area where they solve problems. He was able to control a robotic dog they use for patrol on the beach of one of the bases.

  • At Cape Canaveral Space Force Base, there was leadership with two Brigadier Generals and toured the base to see rocket launch locations for SpaceX, Blue Origin and other independent companies that are launching rockets into space. 

  • In addition, there were training sessions and tours at the weather headquarters for the Air Force/Space Force, launch control center for SpaceX and other rockets, and the Apollo launch locations. There they had guided tours and were able to get out to the actual launch site and walk around. 

He said he was most surprised to learn the amount of rockets going into space, “This year they are scheduled to launch 97 commercial rockets. In 2019 they launched 26. These are not only by companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin but many other small companies that have some creative ideas,” he says. “There have been a lot of jokes made about the Space Force however most people are not aware of their importance and how they affect our everyday lives with banking, cell phones, and communication.”

During the week’s events, he was able to see how robotics is used in this arena. “This allowed me to understand what skills and abilities they (USAF/ USSF) are looking for from our students and reinforced the importance of STEM in our classrooms and relevance to the real world applications that FIRST Robotics provides,” Miller says. He also gained new insight on leadership to help him grow personally in robotics, which will help our robotics programs.

He was particularly amazed to learn about the opportunities in robotics for our students in the future. “These jobs, whether through college, military or trade school, are very exciting and should be great opportunities for our students.” 

The group at this particular conference created their own community and post daily on ideas for FIRST Robotics. “I made a lot of new contact with people across the country that will be beneficial to me in terms of school and robotics.”

Michael Miller at the Air Force
Michael Miller at NASA
Robot Mr. Miller could try
FIRST experience group photo

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