Service First

3lService First is a free K-12 STEM outreach initiative exclusively for the children of current and former military service members.

Current and Former Service Members – Please complete our INTEREST SURVEY.

Service First – At a Glance


LFT->RT: Dr. Cesare Wright (Rice University & Kino-Eye Center), Dyan Gibbens (Trumbull & USAF), Trey Gibbens (Parrot Drones), Raamel Mitchel (Microsoft)

  • 100% free STEM education program for children of military families
  • Developed and run by professional engineers, military officers, certified K-12 teachers, and university faculty
  • Focus on development of leadership and teamwork skills
  • Aligned with K-12 national, state, and local education standards
  • Project-based STEM learning supported by local coaches and mentors
  • Industry partners include Microsoft and BP
  • Supported by Veteran’s Service Organizations and military leadership
  • Curriculum model pilot through Rice Drone Camp achieved national recognition as an ideal model for STEM learning
  • Partnership discussions with NASA, Space Center Houston, Buzz Aldrin Foundation, Harris Foundation, and VEX Robotics
  • Online learning and community building support in partnership with Microsoft


13450225_10104153433817165_3875714909810706853_nBy promoting K-12 STEM education, we hope to create a sustainable pipeline for training a domestic workforce that is capable of meeting the technological demands of an “America First” economy.

Microsoft, BP, Trumbull, and the Kino-Eye Center have partnered on this initiative to ensure that students of those who have served in the military have the support that they need to pursue higher education and careers in the emerging global tech economy.

Drones – A Gateway to STEM learning

As a vehicle for STEM learning, drones might be described as the “chemistry set” of the modern era – allowing students and DIY practitioners an unparalleled opportunity to experiment with a variety of ‘maker’ technologies, including 3D printing, coding, and hardware design.

throgers4Unmanned technologies provide a gateway to a diverse array of engineering disciplines and STEM content areas – e.g. computer science, engineering fields, material sciences, computational and applied math, etc.

By engaging students in exciting, project-based learning that connects to their own interests and strengths, we foster academic growth and excellence, while creating pathways to life-long learning.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 12.13.02 PMRead more in this Drone 360 Magazine article by Dr. Wright – “Chemistry Set 2.o” 

Service First addresses the unique needs of military children.

Military children often relocate numerous times throughout their K-12 education. Due to disparities in scope and sequence, local/state/federal education standards, and regional testing requirements, these students frequently miss key learning objectives and content.


Over time, this may result in academic deficiencies that limit options for higher education and professional careers. As children fall behind in school, they also lose their enthusiasm and intrinsic motivation for learning.

Service First mitigates these risks by providing a rigorous framework for personal, technical, and intellectual growth. The multi-year academic program combines extra-curricular education enrichment events, online educational content, authentic project-based learning, and sustained coaching and mentorship.

Program Overview:

Service First Summer Camp – Students participate in a 5day summer camp experience that provides an intensive introduction to the math, science, engineering, and technology that drives the UAV/UAS industry.

Family Drone Days – As a follow-up to the Service First Summer Camp, students and their families attend a weekend retreat that allows parents to connect more directly with the educational growth of their children. These weekend retreats also foster a sense of community, enabling students to cultivate a peer support network. During these weekend retreats, Service First also provides career enhancement workshops that help service members integrate more competitively into the workforce.

Online Learning Support – Service First includes a structured online learning overlay, which provides educational content and resources to support a progressive acquisition and mastery of academic and technical skills.

Community Coaching and Mentorship – Working with industry partners, community groups, military support organizations, and universities, Service First facilitates ongoing coaching and mentorship support for students within their own communities. Working with these mentors and coaches, students expand their knowledge through project-based learning encounters that encourage the practical application of skills, while also promoting teamwork and collaborative relationships.

Leadership & Teamwork – The emergent global economy requires skilled technical professionals who are also able to effectively lead teams and collaborate with others to execute complex interdisciplinary projects.  In order to better position U.S. engineers and tech professionals to rise as leaders in industry, we must supplement technical skills with express training in leadership and teamwork.

In addition to STEM education, Service First acculturates students to the leadership and teamworks skills that will competitively differentiate them in higher education and industry.  Our leadership curriculum is developed and delivered by military officers, experienced industry professionals, and faculty from prominent university leadership centers, including the Rice University Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL) and the MIT Gordon Engineering Leadership (GEL) program.

Ecosystem and Collaboration

The Service First initiative was co-created by Trumbull and the Kino-Eye Center, with the ongoing support of Microsoft. Commitments of support are currently being negotiated with BP, NASA, Vex Robotics, and a variety of Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs).





Scope, Scale, and Schedule

The pilot iteration of Service First is slated for launch in July/August of 2017, with a preliminary rollout scheduled for Houston, San Antonio, Dallas. Working with Microsoft and other strategic partners, we aim to scale up the Service First program to support implementation in 18-states within 1-2 years.

Support and Sponsorship

The Service First program is only made possible through the support our community, industry, non-profit, and government partners.  Opportunities for support and sponsorship of the Service First initiative include:

  • Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 12.05.06 PMFinancial sponsorship
  • In-kind contribution of equipment and technology support
  • Travel support for program staff and participating students/families (e.g. hotel accommodation/discounts, airfare, car rental, etc.)
  • Activity support (e.g. field trips to the Houston Zoo, Microsoft Technology Center, BP Innovation Center, etc.)
  • Fundraising support
  • Media and promotions

Please contact us for more info on supporting Service First!


Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed