When I was in high school my robots looked something like this. Now that I’m in college my robot looks like this.
FIRST Robotics really showed me that I not only loved robots, but that I wanted to spend my entire life playing with them. I’m a computer science major at Carnegie Mellon with a double major of robotics. My on campus job is as an undergraduate researcher in the Robotic Institute’s Personal Robotics Lab. We work with HERB, Home Exploring Robot Butler, who is designed to work with and around people inside their homes. Our lab focuses on several key areas of robotics research: vision, manipulation and human-robot interaction. I am primarily interested in the intersection of manipulation and human-robot interaction, with a focus on enabling human and robots to collaborate successfully.
Its pretty easy to see how my role as our team’s programmer has contributed to my career in computer science and how years of FIRST’s Beta Testing has provided invaluable debugging tactics in the holy-cow-why-won’t-this-work-someone-please-call-the-holy-cows situations. Those skills sets are obvious. But their are other skills sets too.
Although I am not part of the team that messes with HERB’s circuits, because of my FIRST experience, I have a general understanding of helps me navigate around at a beginner level. Likewise I do not do any mechanical work but if needed I can use the FIRST safety culture to help me work some machinery. Being in academia means constantly trying to acquire funding, which means any and all skills from the business side of FIRST come into play.
It’s all about acquiring skills. And one of the best parts of FIRST is that it allows you to experiment around in so many different areas, gathering technical expertise and experience in fields that, believe you me, will be useful always. I actually regret not having gotten more comfortable with heavy power tools. The FIRST learning environment is so forgiving and accepting that I could have and should have picked up even more skills when I had the easy chance.
So use FIRST to find out what you love to do and then go get the skills to do that and so much more. And if interacting with robots is what you love to do, be a roboticist - its a lot of fun!
This blog post was written by Rachel from FRC Team 1912 Combustion . If you want to write a blog post for FIRST Ladies, get your spot on the schedule now! Click here to pick a date.
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