Who knew a handmade robot could be so life-changing?
More than 70,000 people – and 1,300 robots – traveled to Houston and Detroit to celebrate creativity and innovation at the FIRST (For Inspiration Recognition Science Technology) Championship, presented by Qualcomm Incorporated.
Seniors Morgan Andrulis and Kaitlynn Soo joined a community robotics team, which included students from Ursuline, Jesuit, Hockaday, and other area high schools. The group, which competed in multiple competitions, finished first at regionals and advanced to state in Houston. Good Morning America even featured the competition (Morgan and Kaitlynn's 2714 team is shown at the two-minute mark).
FIRST Robotics is funded through grant money by various tech companies. Each robot is created to complete specific challenges.
"Even though I joined the robotics team my senior year, I have already learned so much more than I have through any of my other extracurricular activities," Andrulis said. "I'm able to use the end mill, or milling cutter, to cut and drill holes into components of the robot."
Said Soo: "I joined not knowing what to expect and in just three short months, I have learned so much about so many different tools, programs, and mechanical concepts that I didn't even know existed."
They quickly applied classroom concepts in competition. The team created a robot that lifts itself up with a small metal suction plate. Despite the suction's size, it lifted a more than 100-pound robot thanks to normal suction pressure.
"In competitions, teams solved the same problems in so many different ways through their amazing robots," Soo said. "All the hard work that you put into making your robot pays off."
Both will use what they learned in future professions. Kaitlynn will study engineering in college while Morgan will study aerospace engineering.
"This experience will allow me to contribute more to the team I join in college, providing me with more opportunities to gain engineering experience and to use this experience to get internships later," Andrulis said. "Both of us were blessed with endless opportunities to learn about engineering and to make connections with people working in the industry today."