Catching Up With NFPA Robotics Challenge Scholarship Winners; 2022 Winner Seeking Fluid Power Internship

Byline: Haley Nemeth

The NFPA Education and Technology Foundation has awarded six scholarships to students through the Robotics Challenge Scholarship. The scholarship awards $30,000 ($7,500 per year for four years) to high school seniors who participate in a VEX, FIRST®, or NRL Robotics Competition Team and use pneumatics in the competition robot. The goal of the NFPA Robotics Challenge Scholarship is to bring an awareness of fluid power options in robotics to high school students, stimulate increased use of fluid power products in these competitions, and build awareness of careers in the fluid power industry.

We asked scholarship recipients to share what they have been working on academically, professionally, and personally, and what are they are looking forward to. Here is what they shared:

Jacob Barnes (2018) is looking forward to graduating this year. He is currently amid his fifth year as an Electrical Engineering student at Cal Poly. He works part-time on campus and participates on the Disc Golf Club when he has time. Jacob shared that he advocated to use fluid power for a group project in a Biomed class where they went through the process of designing a product for the medical market. The device his group designed was a lift to provide wheelchair-bound individuals the autonomy of getting into and out of bed to and from their wheelchair without needing another person to assist them. They incorporated fluid power for some of the device’s motion.

Noah Santoni (2019) graduated in December 2022 and will start a full-time position at Neuralink this fall. In the meantime, he will be in Cleveland working at Cleanr, a micro plastic filtration startup, and volunteering as a mentor for a local FIRST Robotics program.

Matt Morley (2020) is a Mechanical Engineering student at Northeastern University in Boston. He has been on the Dean’s List all four semesters so far. He is very involved with the Aerospace and Rocketry Club where he is the avionics lead, responsible for building avionics to control big high-power model rockets. He is also involved with their liquid rocket engine project, and Matt is building a miniature rocket engine himself. Additionally, he mentors his high school robotics team on-and-off. Matt finished a co-op this fall and is excited to be back in the classroom learning Fluid Dynamics, and Systems Analysis and Controls. Matt attended NFPA Annual Conference in February. He shared that he enjoyed listening to Peter Zeihan’s session and the unique opportunity to network with NFPA members in the industry and faculty from other universities.

Caleb Qiu (2021) is studying Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan. He is currently working as a teaching assistant at the University of Michigan for a math class and involved on campus with Michigan Hackers and the Taiwanese American Student Association. He made the Dean’s List, spent time volunteering this year at local FIRST robotics competitions, and has been trying out photography for fun. In an engineering class, he learned about and applied fluid power to build a soft pneumatic robot. He is interested in exploring this further next semester by taking part in research related to soft robots, which often rely heavily on hydraulics or pneumatics. This summer he is interning at Amazon and is looking forward to start diving deeper into core Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science classes and participating in more research on campus next year.

Colton Seitz (2022) just finished up his first semester at the University of Alabama. He made the Fall 2022 Dean’s List while he learned about 3D modeling, physics, engineering materials and thermodynamic systems. This semester he’s looking forward to learning more about thermodynamics systems, marketing, and statics. Outside of the classroom, Colton joined the rock-climbing club and the Bama IP Commercialization Academy where they took an item patented by the university and developed it into a viable product. Colton is seeking summer internship opportunities! Follow this link to learn more about Colton.

If you would like to be a judge for this year’s Robotics Challenge Scholarship applications or are interested in recruiting Colton Seitz for a summer internship, please contact Haley Nemeth at

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