Florida Power and Light Co. surprised Lucas Gifford with an annual scholarship.
A lifelong love of taking things apart and putting them back together again propelled a Pine View School senior to a college scholarship on Monday.
Lucas Giffard, who was one of 35 applicants to apply, received a $20,000 STEM education scholarship from Florida Power and Light Co. Set to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts this fall, Giffard plans to double major in robotics engineering and mechanical engineering.
As the president and co-captain of Jungle Robotics, the school’s robotics team, Giffard was under the impression that he was presenting to FPL to try to secure funding for the team’s upcoming year. To his surprise, the meeting was a ruse to award the annual scholarship of $5,000 for four years.
Giffard’s parents kept the news under wraps for two weeks as FPL prepared to surprise the senior. Despite knowing he was a finalist for the award, Giffard never suspected anything, said his mother Lori Rodgers.
For Giffard’s family, the scholarship means helping with the $70,000 tuition at the private research university. Rodgers said that Worcester is the “perfect school” for Giffard and the scholarship will give him the chance to embrace all that the school has to offer him, such as traveling with its robotics team.
Maureen Wilt, the education program manager for FPL, said that this year almost any of the students who applied for the scholarship could have won, but what set Giffard apart from the other applicants were his leadership qualities.
In addition to competing in competitions, Giffard and his teammates have made giving back to the community one of their core tenets. In 2018, the team started a robotics summer camp that was propelled into a year-long program at the Suncoast Science Center in Sarasota.
They also started the program Growing Strong STEM, which helps bring STEM lessons to lower income areas. The team works with students to build Lego Mindstorms kits as well as helping them with their homework.
As for what’s next for Giffard? He graduates from Pine View School on Sunday and will head to Worcester in August. This is the first step in Giffard locking down his dream job: building animatronics for theme park rides.