Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Students learn robotics, help increase inclusion, diversity, inclusion


Zach Johnson, a high school freshman, had no idea his first big robotics project would be made of wood and...not a robot.

His team, the East Ridge Robotics Ominous Raptors (ERRORs) from Woodbury, Minnesota, was one of over 60 Medtronic-sponsored FIRST® Robotics teams - and one of six to win Medtronic's first inclusion, diversity, and equity (ID&E) award for creating an LGBTQIA+ resource kiosk for their school.

“Medtronic has long been a supporter of FIRST, but this was the first time we’ve paired that with intentional goal-setting around inclusion and diversity,” said Matea Thomas, the program manager at the Medtronic Knowledge Center who led the initiative.

By providing opportunities for collaboration, innovation, mentoring, and leadership, the Knowledge Center fosters a STEM outreach community for Medtronic employees.

“There’s still a stigma, and there shouldn’t be. It seems like it’s making an impact,” he said.

The team also stocked the kiosk with resources about LGBTQIA+ students in STEM, mental health, and discrimination. They also held LGBTQIA+ community training sessions for FIRST mentors as well as sports and club coaches at the high school.

Presentations about diverse STEM leaders, removing financial barriers to access, increasing diverse recruiting, diversity education and training, and increasing diverse mentors were among the winning teams' ID&E efforts. Medtronic presented the winning teams with a prize of $1,500.

Each year, the robotics competition lasts about four months. The students spend the rest of their time doing community service and learning skills like coding, graphic design, and writing.

“It’s really the robots that are building our students,” said Char Provost, the senior director of the Knowledge Center at Medtronic. Turning to the students, she added, “Every one of you can be a pro in the science and engineering fields.”