For Team 4786 Nicolet FEAR, founding student member and current mentor Aislinn O’Dwyer continues to inspire team members and young women to pursue their passions in the fields of engineering and STEM. O’Dwyer always had an interest in science when she was a child, but was not able to pursue it until she got to high school. After taking classes her freshman year, she realized that engineering is something that she wanted to do. Joining the team as a founding member in December of 2012 for the 2013 FRC season, she was deeply encapsulated by FIRST and returned to mentor the team for the 2018 FRC Power Up season.
“FIRST gave me a lot of exposure to the different types of engineering there are and the different aspects of design.” For O’Dwyer, FIRST gave her a space to explore what she didn’t have the chance to before, giving a more indepth look at the engineering field. This team, with the help of FIRST, is able to give all members the opportunity to see different aspects of engineering: electrical, mechanical, programming, and also the communication side of a business. Nicolet FEAR works to create an environment where everyone is involved and encouraged to work together.O’Dwyer said, “it taught me a lot about how not everything is going to work the first time and that’s not a problem, that’s how engineering works. Not everything is going to be perfect the first time and it’s about the think, make, improve process.”
Even through the hour and a half commute from Madison, O’Dwyer continues to mentor for the team year after year. Aislinn said, “I really like Nicolet FEAR. It is so accessible to so many people. You don’t have to be rich, it doesn’t cost thousands and thousands of dollars to join the team. It's a place for everyone no matter their background is able to come in and understand and enjoy the experience of engineering, or graphics, or communications, or any part of the real world.”
O’Dwyer currently works as a senior engineer at National Electrostatics Corporation located in Middleton, Wisconsin just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. National Electrostatics Corporation makes particle accelerators. These particle accelerators are used for medical and astronomical research as well as different experiments in all areas of science. As a senior engineer, O’Dwyer works on mechanical engineering for various projects. She works with physicists to ensure things are able to be made, and they follow the goals for the physicists. Ais also works on installing particle accelerators.
Through her success in her career, O’Dwyer has also run into some adversity being a woman in STEM and engineering. “Being a woman in STEM and engineering for one is not always taken as seriously as their male counterparts. It’s improving, I’ve seen lots of improvement the longer I have been in the field, but it is still not perfect. There are always going to be people who think I am not as capable because I am a woman, and that’s okay, that's not my problem. That is their problem. The big thing about it is when other people think I can’t do something, I just go and prove them wrong!” said O’Dwyer.
Since she was a child, O’Dwyer’s biggest inspiration is her mother. As a pharmacist, she was a huge role model to Aislinn growing up and helped show her that women really can do anything they put their minds to. Aislinn is a big believer in inspiring young women and people to go into STEM. “It is important to have voices to stand up for women and minorities who say you can do this and have people who can back you and have you believe it and that you can do this. It is so important to feel like you are supported and can do anything.”
This blog was submitted by Nicolet FEAR team members Madeline W. and Delaney V., FRC team 4786. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!