I would like to begin by introducing my team to you all. We are proud to be recognised as the first all girls FRC Robotics team in Australia; we consist of 26 members and come from Blacktown Girls High School. Our school has been competing in the FRC Robotics competition for the past 3 years. We have named ourselves as “Unidentified Moving Machines,” (UMM) but are widely known as Team 4802. Our team is still considered as a rookie team but we are steadily progressing from this stage. Now to introduce myself, I am Pragyna a first year member of Team UMM. Currently I am 15 years old and a year 10 student of Blacktown Girls. I was first drawn to the robotics program in our school by the unique experienced it offered. Robotics didn’t seem to be a typical program running in every school, so I jumped to the opportunity to be apart of something different, interesting and beneficial to my future. As this year’s competition was my first ever, the whole concept was something I had to adjust too and learn about.
Being a girl or being part of an all girls team, it had never once crossed my mind that we could be at some sort of disadvantage. I saw no difference between us and the other teams. Our handwork and efforts were the same of what is perceived to be the capability of only males. There was no set back; my team of girls are strong. Despite the fact that majority of our team consisted of first timers, the hours put in displayed the results. Our team had met up every weekend for 3 weeks, both Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm, often resulting in the extension of those hours. We had commitment, we had determination and we had a goal. Being a girl was nothing that had to be overcome.
Learning was the first step in joining robotics. All the components of robotics required every new member to learn brand new skills that would assist them in building the robot. We were exposed to many aspects of what engineering involved – hands on building, software programming and electrical work. A key factor in which boosted our team’s time and process was organisation. Teams were set to the girls; they had a choice of which element of the robot they would want to be involved in (build team, software team or electrical team). From there, our girls had a more clear view of what their role would involve. In each team there was a mentor from Macquarie University (enormous thank you to Adam, Joey & Griff), who guided in our process of building, programming and wiring the robot. Our team was given access to facilities at Macquarie to be of assistance with the completion of our robot. All these amazing opportunities, really inspired our girls to the possibilities involved with engineering, and also with the STEM (Science & Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program also linked with FRC. It is a known fact that these job areas are lacking in the involvement of females, with the encouragement of the FRC robotics competition it has brought our team a great deal of knowledge and awareness of what as females shouldn’t be afraid to consider just because it is a male dominate field. Another component of robotics is communication. It is important for other teams to know of your existence and to create friendly connections between the other teams. This was the role of our Public Relations & Media (PRM) Team. It may not seem essential but it is. We must learn from other teams experiences in the competition, they may have a lot of advice to offer especially as we are only a rookie team ourselves. Without the aid of the other teams it would not of been possible to compete in the competition. Our team gained friends and experience from interacting with the other robotic teams. A major connection we made was at the FIRST Ladies morning tea; we were introduced to all the other female competitors and were able to rejoice together in the fact that we as women are accomplishments.
My experience in robotics has definitely made me want to continue to participate in this program for the following competitions. I believe that everything I have learnt on this journey, will help me in bettering my future career and goals. My team and I are striving to incorporate robotics more throughout our school and to get girls excited to become involved. Further extending that encouragement to ANY girl out there that is this is something to be excited about, to be involved in! Robotics will always have a place for girls, there will never be a disadvantage for us ladies and any girl hesitant to join should be aware of the tremendous support behind them. Robotics wants ladies and ladies shouldn’t be put off from the program.
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