2020 NFPA Robotics Challenge Scholarship Winner Announced

Matthew Morley, 2020 Robotics Challenge Scholarship winner, headshot

Programs like the Fluid Power Robotics Challenge Scholarship are made possible in part by the generous support of industry volunteers as well as NFPA Education and Technology Foundation and Pascal Society donors. Support these efforts by making a donation.


Fluid Power Robotics ChallengeMatthew Morley of Sunnyvale, California, is the winner of the 2020 NFPA Robotics Challenge Scholarship. Despite a number of FIRST® Robotics and National Robotics League event cancellations this year, the scholarship program received 87 applications from students who built their robots using pneumatics.

This scholarship program helps build awareness of fluid power benefits and careers among high school students. The scholarship awards $40,000 ($10,000 per year for four years) to a high school senior who participates in a FIRST® Robotics or National Robotics League Competition Team and uses fluid power in the competition robot. The money awarded may be used to study engineering at any accredited technical college or university in the United States. Matthew will be using the scholarship to pursue a degree at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Matthew already has a background in a number of engineering-related activities:

I was born and raised in Sunnyvale, California and graduated from Design Tech High School in Redwood City this June. Design Tech’s personalized curriculum and focus on design thinking gave me the opportunity to develop my passions and hobbies. In my spare time, I enjoy working with and fixing my homemade 3D printers, playing video games with friends, sailing on our high school varsity team, and contributing my knowledge of modern control theory to the open-source FIRST® Robotics Competition robot code library.

Participating in my school’s FIRST® Robotics team, 5940 BREAD, opened my eyes to the possibilities of engineering. I joined the team in my freshman year when it was in just its second year and relished the open-ended real-world engineering problems that we had to solve to be successful as I rose to Technical Captain my junior year. My participation in the team gave me an outlet for my engineering passions as I developed my mechanical design, fabrication, programming and leadership skills.

This fall I’m excited to be studying mechanical engineering at Northeastern University. Northeastern is known for its strong co-op program, where undergraduate students participate in six-month industry-sponsored co-ops. From my FIRST experience, I know that I love to dive into technically challenging engineering problems, learning what I have to in order to be successful along the way, and these co-ops are the perfect opportunity for me to do so.

The honor of this scholarship award will not only help give me the financial means to pursue my education at Northeastern, but will also help me focus my interests on the design challenges that can be found in the member companies of the NFPA.

The NFPA judges who interviewed Matthew were impressed by his knowledge of pneumatics and his sincere interest in the experiences that they had in college. Thank you to all of our judges: Bob Hammond of Deltrol Fluid Products, Frank Langro of Festo, Bill Haley of FORCE America, Tom Peterson of Husco, Olia Mladenova of HYDAC, Travis Schmidt of HydraForce, Jim Kaas of Iowa Fluid Power, Bradlee Dittmer and Charles Werdehoff of IMI Precision, Tom Blansett of the International Fluid Power Society, Jeff McCarthy of SunSource and Andrew Kleitsch.

If you would like to be a judge for next year’s Robotics Challenge Scholarship applications, please contact Lynn Beyer at lbeyer@nfpa.com or (414) 778-3364.