FIRST Chesapeake Chats Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding



Click here to see the past Chat archive. 
Schedule: The FIRST Chesapeake Chats Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding are back for the 2021 fall season! updates will be posted as soon as new sessions are scheduled.
 *Something new this year- we'll be doing a quiz at the end of the 6:00pm Cool Jobs sessions for PRIZES!* (Must be logged into a Twitch account to play)
  • Thursday, December 2nd, 6:00pm - "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Leidos Employees Thomas Bayhi (Smart Mobility Liaison), Michael McConnell (Software Engineer), and Kelsey Scholl (Cyber Security Operations Mobility Leader)." Moderated by Anika Seth, Alumni Ambassador. Join them for an informal discussion about their careers and their cool jobs.
    • Thomas Bayhi is a FIRST alum from Team 1671 in Clovis, California who went from writing Chairman’s award applications to a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. Using experience conducting outreach and marketing efforts for technical projects that he gained through FIRST and other STEM programs, Thomas has made a career out of helping to bring technical efforts together between engineers and their stakeholders in a variety of industries including cybersecurity and vehicle automation.

    • Michael McConnell is a FIRST alum from Team 486 in Pennsylvania and has volunteered with team 5549 in Fairfax County Virginia. Using the teamwork and technical skills developed at FIRST he obtained a degree in Robotics Engineering. He now conducts research and development on cooperative vehicle automation at a lab in northern Virginia as the vehicle sensing and perception lead.  

    • Kelsey Scholl leads a team of people who are specialized in monitoring threats for mobile devices, such as iOS and Android devices. They search for new threats, analyze the data they have, and report any threats that they find. While the team is working on the day-to-day tasks, Kelsey is looking for new ways for them to improve their monitoring and security reporting. To sum it up, they are a team of cyber security mobile device detectives! 


  • Thursday, December 2nd, 6:30pm - "Learn About FIRST Chesapeake's GearedUp Remote Robotics Program with DaVell Smith, Assistant Principal at Martin Luther King, Jr, Middle School, and Lee Reid, GearedUp Instructor." Moderated by Anika Seth, Alumni Ambassador. Hear about our weekly modules that can function as a standalone classroom resource or after-school program to enhance STEM learning.
    • In addition to being the 6th grade assistant principal at MLK, DaVell Smith also leads the school's  STEM Academy. "I believe that STEM can be integrated to give our scholars 21st-century skills needed to be lifelong learners and, more importantly, successful contributors to society." Mr. Smith has been integral in bringing the GearedUp remote robotics program into his school for the past 2 years.
    • Lee Reid graduated from VCU in 2015 with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and has spent most of the time since then writing educational curriculum and teaching STEM programs. He is also a FIRST Alum from FRC team 3136 and has volunteered at numerous FRC and FTC events. "I think [Geared Up] does a very good job of covering most of the basics students need to know to build a robot and to get them excited to continue and learn more!"
  • Thursday, December 2nd, 7:00pm - FTC Drivers Meeting. (For Dec. 4 event)


  • Thursday, December 9th, 7:00pm - FTC Drivers Meeting. (For Dec. 11 events)


  • Thursday, January 6th, 2022 6:00pm - "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Booz Allen Hamilton." More info TBA
  • Thursday, January 6th, 2022 6:30pm - More info TBA
  • Thursday, January 6th, 7:00pm - FTC Drivers Meeting. (For Jan. 8 events)


  • Thursday, January 13th, 7:00pm - FTC Drivers Meeting. (For Jan. 15 events)


  • Thursday, January 20th, 7:00pm - FTC Drivers Meeting. (For Jan. 22 events)


  • Thursday, January 27th, 7:00pm - FTC Drivers Meeting. (For Jan. 29 events)


  • Thursday, February 3rd, 6:00pm - "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Dominion Energy." More info TBA
  • Thursday, February 3rd, 6:30pm - More info TBA
  • Thursday, February 3rd, 7:00pm - FTC Drivers Meeting. (For Feb. 5 events)


  • Thursday, March 3rd, 6:00pm - "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Newport News Shipbuilding." More info TBA
  • Thursday, March 3rd, 6:30pm - More info TBA
Questions?  Email  or contact your Team Advisory Committee


Archive of Past Chats


  • Thursday, April 2nd, 3:30pm - "Storytime: Meet the Head Ref Sponsored by Leidos." Hosted by Ron Therrien, FIRST Chesapeake Programs Director.  Veteran FIRST Chesapeake Head Ref Steve Shade will answer questions about what it's like to be a head ref, why he loves it, what he does as a paid job, and more. NOTE: Steve cannot discuss specific questions or rehash rules from past calls or talk about specific teams or situations. 

















  • Thursday, October 15th, 6:00pm - "FRC Update." Session will include FIRST Robotics Competition team registration, grants, event dates,  and event safety.
  • Thursday, October 15th, 6:30pm - "FTC Update." Session will include FIRST Tech Challenge team registration, grants, event dates,  and event safety.


  • Thursday, November 5th, 6:00pm - Today's Women in STEM Series Sponsored by Leidos. "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Canon Virginia Employees - Presented by Canon Virginia.Hear what inspired them to explore the engineering field and what challenges they have faced as female engineers.
    • Featuring: 
      • Belinda Donavant, Sr. Director of Product Engineering
      • Linda "Lynn" Miller, Sr. Engineer, Advanced Continuous Improvement
      • Angie Coulton, Engineering Systems Specialist III, Product Engineering
      • Cynthia Popernack, Sr. Engineer, Advanced Continuous Improvement
  • Thursday, November 5th, 6:30pm - "Meet the FTC Head Referees.FIRST Chesapeake Head Refs  will discuss what referees do and answer questions about the upcoming season.



  • Thursday, December 3rd, 6:00pm- Today's Women in STEM Series Sponsored by Leidos. "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Leidos Employees." Learn about what inspired these women to pursue STEM careers, what their day-to-day jobs look like, and what challenges they have overcome as leaders in their fields. 
    • Featuring: 
      • Regina Cer – Bioinformatics Division Chief
      • Quana Frost – Senior Security Systems Engineer
      • Tifani O’Brien – Chief Engineer, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
      • Kristina Holden, PhD - Human Factors Technical Fellow
  • Thursday, December 3rd, 6:30pm- "Learn Something New! How to Build Your FTC Engineering Portfolio." Helpful advice about what to include.





  • Thursday, January 21st, 6:00pm - "Storytime: Team 2901 Purple Gears and Their FTC Onshape Parts Library." Whether your team is completely new to CAD or has been modeling for years, come to learn about this incredible free service with over 4,500 components from several major vendors  (including Pitsco/Tetrix and AndyMark)." Moderated by Emma Holincheck, Alumni Ambassador.
  • Thursday, January 21st, 6:30pm - "Learn Something New! Virtual Presentation Tips for Teams." Hear helpful advice for presenting your FTC or FRC team at virtual judge interviews.
    • Featuring Rohit Narayanan, Alumni Ambassador
  • Thursday, January 21st, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • At this first meeting we will update teams on match play as well as how to use the remote scoring system.


  • Thursday, January 28th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC Fulton MD 2, FTC Fairlawn VA 1, FTC Remote Event 1/25-1/31


  • Thursday, February 4th, 6:00pm - Today's Women in STEM Series Sponsored by Leidos. "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Accenture Federal Employees." 
    • Featuring:
      • Viveca Pavon-Harr - Analytics Manager
      • Johanna Jan - Analytics Associate Manager 
      • Danielle Russell - Business & Technology Delivery Analyst
  • Thursday, February 4th, 6:30pm - "Learn Something New! Remote Collaboration: Robot Programming During Hybrid Meetings." How the Wizards.exe team conducts programming work with minimal in-person attendance.
    • Moderated by Mariah Bolden, Alumni Ambassador
  • Thursday, February 4th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC Fulton MD 3, FTC Shenandoah Caverns VA 1, FTC Colonial Heights VA 1, FTC Remote Event 2/08- 2/14


  • Thursday, February 11th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC Fulton MD 4, FTC Fairlawn VA 2



  • Thursday, February 18th, 6:00pm - "Learn Something New! Tips and Tricks for Making a Great Video." Advice for FRC and FTC teams submitting videos in 2021.
    • Featuring Alex Hughes, Alumni Ambassador
  • Thursday, February 18th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC Fulton MD 5, FTC Shenandoah Caverns VA 2, FTC Colonial Heights VA 4


  • Thursday, February 25th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC North Championship, FTC South Championship


  • Thursday, March 4th, 6:00pm - Today's Women in STEM Series Sponsored by Leidos. "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Dominion Employees - Presented by Dominion Energy." Moderated by Emma Holincheck, Alumni Ambassador.
    • Featuring:
      • Diane Leopold, EVP and Chief Operating Officer
      • Lisa Hilbert, Nuclear Plant Manager, North Anna Power Station
      • Kendra Pickard, Engineer III, Offshore Wind


We thank all the guests who appeared in our "Today's Women in STEM" broadcasts. 

We thank Leidos for helping to provide insights into career opportunities for our team members and recent alumni and for providing role models and inspiration for young women in STEM.



  • Thursday, March 18th, 6:30pm - "Cool Jobs - Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering." Featuring Abi Stark and Jessica Tye. Moderated by Mariah Bolden and Abbie Henshaw, Alumni Ambassadors.
    • Abi is currently a Regulatory Affairs Specialist with Polaris, Inc. Her background is in Industrial Engineering, and she is an alum of FRC Team 2199 from Eldersburg, MD. 
    • Jessica designs and develops biomedical electromagnetic devices such as bronchoscopes and cardiac ablation mapping catheters for a medical contract manufacturer.
  • Thursday, March 18th, 6:00pm - "Cool Jobs- Researching the Ecology and Evolution of Birds Using Machine Learning." Featuring Laura Berman, Ph.D Candidate, Avian Evolution Lab, University of Singapore. Moderated by Mariah Bolden and Abbie Henshaw, Alumni Ambassadors.
    • Laura's interests are in vertebrate ecology and conservation, and she has traveled the world in pursuit of her passion. She has previously worked with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and US Geological Service.




  • Thursday, November 4th, 6:00pm - "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Qualcomm Employees Joy Cho and Erica Ciaraldi."  Join FIRST Alumni and Engineer at Product Test and Tools Development, Joy Cho, and Erica Ciaraldi, MPH, Qualcomm Global Corporate Responsibility, for an informal discussion about their careers and their cool jobs. 
  • Joy participated on FIRST Team 2537 Space RAIDers (Columbia, MD) from 2014-2016, and then returned to volunteer in a number of different roles. She describes her experience with FIRST as "eye opening" because it introduced her to her "career path and so many amazing people". Joy works in the Product Test and Tools team, developing tests to stress the company product – semiconductor chips. In short, she tries to break her device as much as possible to find fixes for her job!

    Erica has almost a decade of experience working in the public, government, corporate and academic sectors. She has managed and monitored programs for social good across five continents and is currently involved with Qualcomm Wireless Reach, their Tech for Good initiative, that focuses on the positive difference wireless technology can make in the lives of people around the world. 

    Join these outstanding Women in STEM to learn more about the impact STEM education has made in their lives and how they are working to pay it forward.


  • Thursday, November 4th, 6:30pm - "Judge Advisor Chat with FIRST Chesapeake's Senior Judge Advisors Joe Bouchard and Jeff Meyers." Discussion about presentations, engineering portfolio, and making the most out of your time with the judges.



 Thank you to our Sponsor who has made these Chats possible.

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a FIRST Chesapeake Event,
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