Meet FIRST® alum Connor and learn how General Motors is using Computer Science to impact sustainable energy – and how his FIRST experience prepared him for his career.
Inspired Youth, Inspire You: The FIRST Student Point of View is an ongoing blog series dedicated to showcasing the unique perspectives of FIRST students and alumni about how to foster a more diverse STEM field, what they’ve learned from their FIRST experiences, and more.
Computer Science is everywhere – and it’s making a huge impact on the ways we can make positive change in the world of sustainable energy. Connor Osborne is a FIRST alum and an Energy Architecture Engineer at FIRST Strategic Partner General Motors. We had the opportunity to discuss with him the important role Computer Science plays in achieving General Motors’ sustainability goals and how FIRST prepares students to step into Computer Science roles at leading companies like General Motors.
FIRST Staff: What skills did you learn on your FIRST team that have helped you in your Computer Science career at General Motors?
Connor: FIRST taught me that it isn’t about getting it right the first time, and you can’t be afraid of failure before you start trying. I would tend to get caught up in the details before I even started writing code but learned that you just have to start and you will learn along the way.
FIRST Staff: What does General Motors’ work in the sustainable energy industry currently entail?
Connor: General Motors’ vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion means we have the obligation to shift the automotive market to be sustainable for our planet. We have pledged to electrify our vehicles by 2035 to help us reach our zero emissions goal.
FIRST Staff: What is a Computer Science role at General Motors that contributes to this work?
Connor: General Motors is driving a dramatic shift toward electrification and developing vehicles and products shaped more by software than hardware – Computer Science is front-and-center in us reshaping transportation. Our developers working on innovative features like hands-free Super Cruise are essential for us to reach our goals.
FIRST Staff: What advice can you give to FIRST students looking to start a career in Computer Science?
Connor: Computer Science is a wide and diverse field that can take many shapes and sizes, but the most important thing in the Computer Science industry is experience. My best advice is to start practicing with software and code writing as often as you can. Through your FIRST team, you can look to read and help write your team’s software. Also consider reading other teams’ shared software to gain a new perspective on potential solutions.
FIRST Staff: What’s your favorite FIRST memory related to Computer Science?
Connor: I got to work on my team’s software to help write and calibrate our PID control loop for the robot’s mecanum drivetrain. One of our software mentors had helped me write the basic code feedback loop and I was driving the robot around a small room to tweak the performance until it was just right. Being able to see my code come to life and witness that small changes have an instant impact really impressed upon me the infinite capabilities of software.
"FIRST taught me that it isn’t about getting it right the first time, and you can’t be afraid of failure before you start trying. I would tend to get caught up in the details before I even started writing code but learned that you just have to start and you will learn along the way."
*Photo courtesy of General Motors