June 2009

After energy-efficiency pilot program

Take Me to Your Future Leader

Their shirts say, “Future Robotics Engineer,” and they may be “Future TVA Engineers.” But they are third, fourth and fifth graders who were recognized in the FIRST Lego League robotics tournament in May at Chattanooga’s Battle Academy.


“We have several programs going on at Battle and other downtown schools,” says Charley Spencer, a manager in Clean Strategies & Project Development and volunteer in TVA’s Partners In Education program, who presented the awards. “But making and programming robots is a learning experience that appeals to the kids, teachers and employee mentors.”

TVA asked for volunteers in January to support the teachers who would be supervising the student teams. TVA, Alstom Power and Advatech employees mentored students from five PIE elementary schools — Battle Academy, Brown Academy, Calvin Donaldson, Clifton Hills and East Lake.


Left: “Future engineers” watch their robots during the FIRST Lego League tournament in May. The league is an interactive science-and-technology program for children to help them master the dynamics of teamwork and problem-solving. Right: Charley Spencer, a manager in Clean Strategies & Project Development, places an award on one of the participants. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.”

One of the judges for TVA was Facilities Management Vice President Jeff Parsley. For Parsley, this tournament was about more than making kids excited about math and science. “These activities allow all types of students to participate, even students who learn in different ways. The boundaries and barriers are gone, and they become a team with an intense excitement about what they’ve accomplished.”


TVA’s Jeff Parsley served as one of the judges for the robotics competition.

In fact, the students apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics to build their robots and program them to complete specific tasks. The competition requires each team’s robot to carry out a specific mission. The teams huddle anxiously around the table with an intensity that almost wills their robot to complete its mission.

Spencer says TVA’s support of programs such as this robotics program is important in TVA’s support of Chattanooga’s downtown schools. “The executives that came as judges were able to see the kinds of talented students who can be TVA’s workforce one day.”








Participants get their robots ready to compete.