“All I ask for is perfection.”
“But Colonel, perfection is a myth!”
A year and a half ago, when I first joined FIRST FRC Team 3164, Academy-Jesuit robotics, as a shy freshman, I never imagined I’d be making jokes with a colonel and have a catch phrase. Now, I can’t imagine life without robotics.
Academy-Jesuit robotics was started by Cole Schnitzer almost three years ago when he moved to Tampa. The Jesuit school Cole had previously attended also had a FIRST FRC team and Cole was motivated to start one here at Tampa. The inaugural team had three Academy seniors.
Last year, when I initially joined during the third week of school, the Academy seniors had all graduated and only myself and one other freshman came from AHN. However, by the time kickoff–the day when we find out the game for which a robot must be built for competition–had arrived, seven girls were on the team. This year there are eight of us and not only a FRC team, but also a FTC team.
Now for a little background on FIRST robotics. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was started by Dean Kamen–the inventor of the Segway–and Woodie Flowers. Dean Kamen had a dream of making science “cool” and getting more teenagers interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) job fields. Today, FIRST contains four programs: Jr. FLL (FIRST LEGO League) for six- through nine-year-olds, FLL (FIRST LEGO League) for ages 9-14/16 depending on where you live, FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) and FRC (FRIST Robotics Competition) for ages 14-18. Each program has an individual game each year with a kickoff and competition dates.
AHN-JHS robotics considers FTC to be similar to junior varsity and FRC to be similar to varsity, as FRC builds a larger robot and has only six weeks to design, build and test their robot. This year in FTC the girls rocked by filming, editing and producing an amazing video to be presented to judges at competition. I am also the FTC head coach, shouting directions at the drivers and managing strategy. With the help of our strategy and video, FTC received a ticket to the upcoming state competition.
In FRC, we have girls writing applications for awards such as the Chairman’s Award and the Woodie Flowers Award. Girls are cutting metal, PVC piping, wood and even the occasional table. The Academy students program so well that one of them even teaches the programming class from time to time. Although there are only eight of us, we are pushing the boys out of the way and actively participating in each and every aspect of the six week brainstorm, design, prototype, build and test period.
You can bet that all eight of us will attend and be part of the competitions and combine our enthusiasm with the guys’, possibly even showing them up in spirit. Academy girls may be the minority at Academy-Jesuit robotics, but that makes us no less valuable and makes our experience no less inspirational.
Let’s go FIRST FRC Team 3164 and FTC Team 4960!
- Gabby Madden (A’14)