Friday, March 8, 2013

Meet the St. Francis High Fembots, Team #692: "We Take on a Challenge When We See It"

Bishop-Wisecarver is proud to be a Diamond Supplier this year of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) — we're even more proud of the teams we sponsor. Their hard work is an inspiration to us all, and it's an honor to share with you their story.

This week, we'd like to feature team #692 located in Sacramento, CA at St. Francis High School. This is our first year sponsoring the Fembots, but it's not their first year to battle. This team has many years of participation under their belt, and know all the ins and outs of participating in FRC.

Although they are busy participating in regional competitions, the team's leader Jasmine "Jaz" A. took time out to meet with us for a Q&A session. Have questions for her? Leave 'em in our comments section!

Question: We recognize that FIRST is not just about building a robot. What else does this competition encompass for you, and what are you learning as you prepare for the competition?

Answer: I’ve been on the team for four years and it’s really taught me a lot. I don’t want to go into engineering but I do want to go into psychology. I feel like working with the team has taught me how to work with others and express myself so it’s not just me who understands my ideas. I’ve also learned how to manage and run a group effectively. FIRST is a great experience, provides problem-solving and conflict management, and is not merely about technical issues — it’s a lot about compromise.

I feel like (these experiences have) really prepared me for a job out in the real world.

Question: What do you think your team is best at? Do you think that you and the other team members have discovered new interests and talents through FIRST thus far, and if so, what are they?

Answer: I think as far as my team goes, we’re best at problem-solving. We might not have the best robot when we show up to the competition but we know how to take on a challenge when we see it.

We’ve definitely fostered new talents and interests through FIRST. Some joined the team not knowing what they want to do as far as career choices, and (FIRST) goes beyond engineering. Like I said, I want to go into psychology and it’s really because of this team. I love managing personalities and seeing how people interact within groups.

Don’t get me wrong: there are definitely girls on the team that want to go into engineering. Some want to be electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and some even want to be chemical engineers. We have a wide range of skill sets and career preferences among our team members.

I’ve tried everything on the team: build, programming, artistic stuff, but I love the management type of work the most.

Our sub teams work on a variety of efforts. For example, my team has an art sub team, so we have a group of people who focus on team promotion and things like graphic design. If they want to become graphic designers, for example, then members of our team have gained valuable experience to go into that field.

There is really something for everyone in FIRST.

Question: Which aspect(s) of the FIRST Robotics Competition is your team most excited about and why?

Answer: My team is really social. We’re also an all girls team, so that might have something to do with it. We love going around to the different teams and meeting new people, and being introduced to new ideas. We are great at socializing and talking to other teams. We are great at making ourselves known. The actual competition is exciting, as we love to introduce ourselves and network.

FIRST is a great place to meet wonderful people, and for the right reasons, too.

Question: FIRST provides many opportunities to enhance and engage different skill sets. What skills are your team members building?

Answer: Socializing, for sure, and working together as a group. Time management is a really big skill that runs throughout all our sub teams. No matter what you’re working on, you have deadlines to meet. Our school is very academically rigorous so a lot of the time management aspect (that I refer to) pertains to balancing FIRST along with the heavy workload from classes. I feel like our time management goes beyond just the team, and involves management of this project along with not only homework, but also jobs, and other extracurricular activities.

Question: Almost anyone involved in FIRST has the opportunity to be a mentor. Sometimes it’s mentors guiding students, students helping students, and students advising mentors — do you have words of wisdom to share with teams who have just joined FIRST this season?

Answer: With respect to mentors, they have a lot to teach you, but know that with mentors it’s more of a discussion. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make it a conversation. Sometimes team members get intimidated by the mentors. It’s like an interactive process, not just asking the mentor for guidance and advice, but engaging them in your project.

Question: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Answer: FIRST is definitely life changing. It can lead you to places you never thought you’d be. It’s a great starting point.