“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.” - Aislinn O’Dwyer, Team 4786 Nicolet FEAR alumni
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!
FRC team 4118, Roaring Riptide has always been a safe space for me. It is where I made my first highschool friends, and the buildspace is where I go when I need cheering up. My teammates and I work to support each other's ideas, projects, concerns and interests. My team is full of people that want nothing more than for their teammates to grow, regardless of background or lifestyle, but that isn’t an atmosphere reached effortlessly. It is something that needs to be encouraged and cultivated in order to grow.
A female teammate recalls, “My first year on the team, two of my friends tried to work with the robot aspects of the team, but the technical lead roles were dominated by males and made it hard for them to get their voices heard on anything technical. This often ended up kinda forcing them to step away from the technical aspect of the team.” When talking to Alumni, they confirmed that it was a combination of strategy and determination to create and maintain the culture we have today. It was their concerns that led us to working towards a family-like atmosphere on our team.
A very big part of that is promoting female leadership in our team. Our largest move to do so was to create an all girls FTC team in 2020. The idea was to create a feeder team for Riptide. Girls could have a dedicated space to learn and gain confidence with engineering. When they felt ready, if they wished to, they could move to working on Riptide. We saw immediate results, with our team's leadership being majority female during the next FTC season, and remaining so up until this season, even as we incorporated all genders into our FTC team. We look forward to encouraging more girls in STEM and building our legacy as a diverse and dynamic team of engineers.
This blog was submitted by Roaring Riptides, FRC team 4118. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
Why is Imagery Important?
As a FIRST participant, I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “more than robots” plenty of times. It can relate to less technical ideas, like how we grow throughout our journey in the program either as individuals or teams. Along with that, though, it can also refer to what teams need in order to function that doesn’t relate directly to building a robot. FIRST cultivates many non-technical skills, like those needed for awards, documentation, business, or outreach, and one thing needed for all of those is good imagery.
For a robotics team, imagery means consistent colors, symbols, and mottos. It’s your teams brand. For beginner teams, choosing identifying colors may sound like the least of your concerns, but it's a big first step in getting your team into the spotlight. It's how other teams, potential sponsors, and even judges recognize you. Imagery provides stronger internal and external team connections, a more inspiring experience for team members, sponsorships, consideration for awards, stand presence, invitations to opportunities, and being more recognizable at outreach events.
So, how do you get started on building your team's image?
FRC team 4118 provides a guide to creating a team's brand that effectively represents whatever message your team has decided to promote. The guide discusses everything from colors to presence in your team's pit, using our team's own experiences and trials as we settled into our own image and brand. It can be found through this link.
We hope that this resource helps any teams looking for help. Both new teams initially starting out and old teams looking to rebrand have resources to find with us and with other teams. We hope to help you through your journey of making your team as recognizable as possible!"
-This blog was written by Caroline H. of Roaring Riptides, FRC team 4118. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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