Dr. Janell Catlin, Vice President of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Visit to the Ontario Provincial Championship

Robotics team with Dr. Catline
Black woman with micorphone on stage with man.

We were so honoured to have Dr. Catlin, Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at FIRST Headquarters, visit the Ontario Provincial Championship in Mississauga, Ontario. Addressing a crowd of 4000, Dr. Catlin emphasized the crucial role of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in STEM education, alongside the importance of Gracious Professionalism. Her speech resonated with the audience, highlighting the real-world applications of STEM education and the transformative power of hands-on learning experiences. Throughout the event, Dr. Catlin engaged with students, educators, and industry leaders, stressing the significance of collaboration, inclusion, teamwork and discovery some of the values core to FIRST‘s mission. 

Young women getting an award

Dr. Catlin also presented the Indigenous Scholarship Award to Chloe B, from FRC Team 2702, Rebels, recognizing her outstanding achievements as a student from diverse cultural backgrounds. This moment underscored FIRST‘s commitment to inclusivity, celebrating the contributions of individuals from underrepresented communities. Dr. Catlin’s meeting with the McMaster Children’s Hospital’s FIRST LEGO League Challenge Rookie Team, the Hammerheads, was equally impactful. Meeting with team members Billy, Rowan, and Lathium, along with their families and mentors, Dr. Catlin witnessed firsthand the resilience and potential of these young participants.

Dr Catlin
Children on a robotics team

Group of emplyees from FIRST CanadaThe partnership between McMaster Children’s Hospital and FIRST Robotics Canada has been instrumental in introducing the FIRST LEGO League Challenge Adaptive Program. Led by FIRST Robotics Canada and their Senior Mentors, the program aimed to nurture STEM skills among hospital students. Under the guidance of Michael Berube, a dedicated FIRST Mentor, the program flourished, giving rise to the award-winning rookie team, the Hammerheads. Despite challenges, the Hammerheads excelled, competing in regionals and earning a spot in the FLL Provincial Championship. Engaging with the team, Dr. Catlin was deeply moved by their stories, particularly the struggles parents faced in accessing programs for their children with disabilities. Inspired by the Hammerheads’ journey, Dr. Catlin aims to replicate their success in the United States. Her goal is to continue to foster a culture of inclusivity and innovation within FIRST, inviting FIRST Canada and the Hammerheads to share their insights at an upcoming U.S. meeting.

Dr. Catlin’s visit to the Ontario Provincial Championship serves as a poignant reminder of the transformative potential of STEM education and the imperative of creating equitable opportunities for all individuals to thrive.