FIRST successfully embodies this principle of inclusion to achieve a common goal; this is the dictionary definition of the word team. And that definition also has no window for discrimination. This means that people of both genders, of all races, of all backgrounds, and all sexual orientations have a place on the team as long as they are dedicated to the same goal. I have never seen this principle so vividly acted out anywhere but on a FIRST robotics team. And my team is no different, there is an unspoken understanding that we are a singular unit, a uniform force working together toward a common cause.
Five years ago we had only 5 girls on the team, now nearly half the team is female. This amazing growth can be attributed to our policy of no waste. We believe that to waste is to ignore the benefits that a resource may provide. An amazing idea can come from an incoming freshman or a girl in a male dominated sub-team, it doesn't matter. They are still valuable assets to the team because they bring a unique perspective to the problem. Every individual has a place and a say. This enables our final project to become a conglomeration of the individuals who created it. Every year we have a moment when we look at the robot and just talk about the stories associated with each part of it. The time when the arm fell on Ellie or when Steve dented the chassis because he went backwards instead of forwards, etc. These individual memories are all part of the robot and therefore the team becomes a single unit.
Also, the common adage of, “Two Heads are Better Than One” is always true. I can’t tell you how many times our coaches have recommended to work in duos because that ensures that are directions are correctly followed, all parts are correctly measured, and all safety tips correctly implemented, not to mention that it is more fun to work with others. These two heads are the important part, whether the head is male or female is irrelevant but the fact that they can work together in harmony is important. This sense of team is the basis of FIRST robotics and that team is a team of everyone, not just boys.
This blog was written by Deepthi Thumuluri. Don't forget to sign up to blog on the blog schedule.