FIRST Robotics: A student’s perspective

It is estimated that 65 percent of today’s kindergarteners will have job titles that do not currently exist. Many of these new roles will be related to STEM, so it is imperative that young people have opportunities to explore and become educated in these fields.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics is a program that does just that. Its mission is to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders by engaging them in mentor-based programs and competitions. According to FIRST, this is as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.

Knowing this, Macomb County has begun collaborating with the 16 teams based here. One of our first efforts – a FIRST Robotics open house and panel discussion hosted by students from the International Academy of Macomb and the I.AM.ROBOT First Robotics team on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 from 3:45 p.m. – 6 p.m. For more information on the event or to secure your spot, click here.

To get a better understanding as to why this event is important, we invite you to read the following essay written by Magdalena Sawicki, a student from the International Academy of Macomb and a member of the school’s I.AM.Robot FIRST Robotics team.

Before last year, I never had a true passion. I had many hobbies, but nothing that truly made me stop and think, “This is my thing.” Additionally, I always had this mentality that I never truly fit or felt comfortable anywhere, which understandably put a damper on my feelings towards groups and teams. However, that same thinking is what justified the importance of the moment I knew I discovered my passion.

IMG_4805It all began my freshman year when I went to a new high school. The rigor of the International Baccalaureate program was the smallest of my worries compared to the challenges of making new friends and having to reintroduce myself. To be frank, I did not know how I was supposed to paint myself as a unique individual, when I had nothing that set me apart.  The transition was hard and the routine of it all started to make me feel nauseous. Then, like fate had it, an announcement of a robotics meeting played over the speaker. From that moment on, I was under a spell. My weekly meetings turned into daily meetings, sometimes staying at school from 3 p.m. to midnight. It was the first time that I was so wrapped up in doing something that there was no other place I would’ve rather been.

Two years into being on my team, I developed a leadership position and I spontaneously pushed my team into signing up for the All Girls Competition in Bloomfield. It was the first off-season event the team would’ve ever participated in, but I was beyond ready for the challenge. The moment I received the green light, I pushed everything aside besides the competition. Along with preparing myself, I had to prepare the five other girls on the team, expanding my knowledge from just programming to building and electrical. We practiced three times a week and I was confident in our abilities, however, I was still very intimidated by the other teams. So much so, I spent the morning of the competition in the bathroom consoling myself. In the competition queue, fear really hit me. I was trembling and jittery. Luckily, I had a bond with my drive team girls and they put on my favorite music knowing goofy dancing calms me down. Without even realizing it, I was standing at the driver station setting up. My driver saw me tense up again and reminded me of the work I put in to make this possible. We stood in preparation for the match and it was then, when the buzzer went off, that I knew this is my passion. All my nerves disappeared and I went into full focus, winning that match.

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From that moment, every time I’m faced with a tough situation, I swear I hear that starting buzzer. Robotics helped me find my identity, passion and skills like team-work, time-management and most importantly, leadership. The Girls competition became my outlet for later being operator on the actual drive-team, taking my team to worlds, advocating for women in STEM and being the student mentor for my final year of robotics, for not five girls but twenty.

Magdalena Sawicki is a senior from the International Academy of Macomb and has been a member of 4810 I.AM.Robot for four years. She is on the programming, business, outreach and drive teams. Magdalena also holds an extreme passion advocating for women in STEM. Recently, she participated in the Bloomfield All Girls competition as a drive coach and won a $1,000 scholarship through the above essay (5/55 girls).

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