Westminster Expands the Size and CAD Skills of its FIRST Robotics Team

By Dora Smith

At the FIRST Robotics World Championship this year, there were lots of future engineers and lots of robots. 12,000 students from 600 teams traveled from 38 countries to be a part of this robot superbowl.

I had the chance to spend some time with a few of the teams. Let’s meet one of them now.

Meet the Westminster Cyborg Cats:
Siemens PLM Software provides free CAD software for students on FIRST Robotics teams.

And meet their NX-designed robot:


I’ve been impressed with the students at Westminster Christian Academy since I met them two years ago. Their science teacher Lisa Harding noted then that they’ve inspired people to consider engineering. So it was interesting to see just how much inspiration has happened in two years. The team has grown from 30 students to now more than 70.

It’s not just a team, it’s really a company complete with a CEO, CTO, as well as engineering, finance and marketing departments.

Meet Alex Kessel – the team lead or CEO. He’s been a part of the team as it has doubled in size.

Alex emphasized that a robotics team is about much more than building a robot.

“Robotics isn’t just building a robot. We have artists here…it’s a way to incorporate people and get them thinking and working together… It’s just awesome”

Alex noted that they use NX because it’s easier and faster and translates the CAM code perfectly for the CNC machine in their school machine shop. I heard that from a number of teams. They are integrating their CAD work on the robot with simulation and manufacturing.

Now meet CAD leader Abby Smith who became plans to pursue mechanical engineering because of her experience on the robotics team.

If you want to see what was playing on that screen behind – here is a video they played in their pit showing NX software driving a CNC machine in their shop to cut robot parts:

cad software for students

You can also see more images of the team and their robot on their Flickr page.

Stay tuned for some more student stories from this event.


– Dora


P.S. Siemens is a sponsor of this robotics team.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at