On September 19, 2014, Harrison Ford ‘16 represented the Kettering student body and FIRST Robotics programs across the country at the grand opening of the FIRST Robotics Community Center on campus. Most importantly, he shared his story and that made all the difference to those in attendance, including high-ranking officials from the State of Michigan.
“I gave my speech and most people believed in my speech,” Ford said. “For the Governor’s office to be truly impressed with my words, that’s just spectacular.”
Gov. Rick Snyder and his staff were so impressed that they invited Ford and Kettering President Dr. Robert K. McMahan to be dignitaries at the 2015 State of the State address on January 20, 2015, to honor their contributions to FIRST Robotics and for being ambassadors of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education in Michigan.
“I guess you could say that I was stunned that I would be chosen to be with the Governor on his biggest day of the year,” Ford said. “That’s a high honor that most people don’t achieve.”
Kettering student and FIRST mentor Harrison Ford and Dr. Henry 'Doc K' Kowalski embrace during the grand opening of the FIRST Robotics Community Center.
Ford is a former participant, mentor and active advocate for FIRST Robotics as it promotes the spirit of competition along with preparing students for life after high school. Ford has been involved in FIRST since sixth grade and was a member of Team 314 Megatron Oracles at Carman-Ainsworth High School in Flint Township.
“The thing that I most enjoy is that I get a new experience, a new challenge, a new opportunity every season that I’ve been in FIRST,” Ford said. “When I came to Kettering, there were no surprises. I was already prepared to take on new challenges because of FIRST.”
While at Kettering, Ford has taken on a mentoring role with one of the teams that trains in the FIRST Robotics Community Center on campus - Team 322 Flint Fire. Based on his own experiences, Ford views FIRST as a means to be trained technically and teaching high school students work as a team - both ideals that have been critical for him as he pursues a mechanical engineering degree while completing his co-op at Flexible Products in Auburn Hills. However, Ford is also adamant that FIRST can be the foundation for getting a transformational college education.
“I really want to help kids get to college,” Ford said. “FIRST promotes competition but truly, I don’t care about competition, I care about getting these kids to college and helping them get scholarships for college That’s one of the reasons I changed teams as mentor because I wanted to help inner city kids in Flint go to college.”
As a FIRST mentor, Ford coaches hard work while emphasizing the importance of learning and experiencing something new every day. He describes the individuals on Flint Fire as “hungry for opportunity” and admires how they come to practice each day with more knowledge and heightened expectations of themselves.
For Ford, FIRST has been a transformative part of his life story and college journey so far. He acknowledges all the individuals who have invested their time and effort in him over the years and wants to make sure he reciprocates his principles and experiences to others.
“This is isn’t even a sport. It’s a family,” Ford said. “Most people can go toss a ball, kick a ball or shoot a ball, but it takes a lot to say I can come together with people and build something together.”
Written By Pardeep Toor | Contact: Pardeep Toor - firstname.lastname@example.org - (810) 762-9639