It was a beautiful afternoon in Florida on a pristine summer's day. The temperature, 85 degrees, and the beach never felt so calming. I felt the breeze brush my face and the sand between my toes. In the distance, I saw a pod of dolphins jumping and all I could think to myself was this must be a dream.
What I actually woke up to was an early 6 o’clock scream from the alarm that many know all too well. It was a crisp fall morning in New England and rather than sit on the beach, I started to prepare myself for the long day ahead. No, not a football game, or lacrosse, or even rugby; it was the first offseason robotics competition of the year. Three years of persistence and determination, while throwing myself at any project I could work on, led me to finally obtain the position of driver, a position I sought to be in since the beginning of my robotics experience.
So, after preparing and then heading out on the hour and a half drive, I arrived at a Massachusetts high school gymnasium fueled on iced coffee and the anticipation about the day to come. I walked in among the forty or so other teams also there to compete and could not help but feel unprepared. I had fairly little practice as the driver in a real competition and all of my fellow students who learned about the robot with me had left the previous summer for college.
Regardless of my inexperience, the start of the competition was inevitable. I took my place behind the white line and prepared myself with a combination of excitement and dread. The fifteen second timer seemed to last forever as I waited for the robot to complete its autonomous tasks.
Finally, the buzzer sounded. I grabbed the controls and suddenly felt nothing but confidence in my ability and my team. During the regular season, we performed excellently due to both our remarkable robot design and our skillful previous drive team. I knew we would achieve success. We had to. I realized then that my teammates depended on me just as much as I depended on them to design, build, and program a strong robot.
After our first victory, we proceeded to win the rest of the following matches and ended with a 12-0 win record and a first-place trophy. I looked at my celebrating teammates and though I felt the exact same joy they did, I kept my composure thinking that any slight turn of events could have easily caused us a loss; I wanted to appear humble and gracious. However, I was not unappreciative. Though relieved, celebrating also seemed premature as we had more competitions ahead.
Robotics has always reminded me of my younger days and my favorite toys, LEGOs. The configurable building blocks fascinated me, and through them, I developed my creative and innovative mind. When my parents gave the seven-year-old me my first set of LEGOs, I built the set to its designated completion that very day (of course). But then, in the following days, after admiring my work, I dismantled it, then innovated and created an original design. This was my pastime during my childhood. Design, build, innovate, repeat.
I had no idea then, that I discovered the engineering design process at seven, but even now, and with no shame, I occasionally unearth my old LEGOs and create a new concept.
Today, I can only imagine what my childhood self would say if he only knew what kind of projects I was working on now. If he only knew how I design, create, and innovate almost everyday and how all of those years of exercising my creativity finally paid off. The only thing that I think he could say is this must be a dream.
But this time, it wasn’t.
This blog was written by a member of FRC team 78. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
One way we showcase our identity as a girls team is through the names of our robots. Where do we get our robot names? We like to stick with a theme. Usually it coincides with the theme for the season, but most importantly we name our robots after women both in real life and in film who inspire us. We’ve done it for multiple seasons now with names such as Violet, Sally Ride, L3-37, and Eowyn. Here is our reasoning for each name.
Violet was our 2016-2017 season robot. She was named after Violet from the Incredibles. It was a fitting name because our team wears super hero capes and our color is purple, but most importantly, Violet is an amazing character. She is strong and confident and those traits are something that our team embodies.
Sally Ride was our 2018-2019 season robot. She was named after Sally Ride, the first American female to go to space. She paved the way for women in STEM and is an inspiration to us all. She was also an astronaut and that fell right into the theme of space in Rover Ruckus.
L3-37 was our 2019-2020 season robot. She was named after a female droid activist from Star Wars, which fits right into the theme of the season. We picked her because she is persistent in her beliefs and stands up for what she believes is right. We strive to carry ourselves the way she does and continue to advocate for what we believe in.
Eowyn was our 2020-2021 season robot. She is named after Eowyn, a human in Lord of the Rings. We knew we wanted a Lord of the Rings character as our inspiration because of the ring element in the game, and Eowyn stood out to us the most. She is a self-appointed shieldmaiden, and she is famously quoted for saying “I am no man.” Eowyn is fierce and doesn’t back down, even when told she can’t do something because of her gender. Her fighting spirit is something our team hopes to embody.
Each year our team has gone out of our way to ensure that our robot is named after someone who inspires us and reminds us of how we want to carry ourselves in the FTC season.
This blog was written by a member of FTC team 3526. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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