Hello, my name is Erik Boesen. I’m a Junior in High School and the programming captain of another successful FIRST Robotics Competition team. As a member of the FIRST organization, among other STEAM programs such as Computer Science courses and my CyberPatriot team, I and numerous students around me have acquired an incredible breadth and depth of skills—skills which will be of paramount importance as we move on to college and later enter the workforce. The Commonwealth’s economy, as well as both national and international economies, are globalizing and shifting towards knowledge (and especially technical) industry at an astounding rate. It’s my firm belief that we cannot afford at this critical time in our state’s history to deny any student access to programs which could help them be better prepared for a globalized future. With the skills I, personally, have already gained from the FIRST Robotics program, among other aforementioned student organizations, I’ve been able to start a company, contribute to open source software, and help educate younger members of our team in how they, too, can succeed in engineering, academics, and their future careers. This is the kind of education all students need at this time in history.
As it stands, unfortunately, many high schools in Virginia’s economically disadvantaged communities are in want of access to programs (such as robotics teams, such as Computer Science courses) which could help them endow their students with the skills those pupils will need to make an impact on Virginia’s economic future.
I support HB1111 and I urge you all to vote in favor of this bill, through which we’ll provide a critical path to better technical education for students in all of Virginia’s communities.
I would be happy to answer any questions from this body.