Just like the rest of the girls on the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) teams, I am new to Girls of Steel (GoS). When I started I had no idea what to expect, but as soon as I walked into the first meeting at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) I knew I was welcome and that this was where I belonged. As members of Girls of Steel we believe that women can pursue anything that they want and be whatever they want. Girls of Steel inspires girls to go into STEM careers and believe in themselves and their ideas.
Our new girl orientation meeting was held on September 19, 2017. In the first meeting we were given an overview of what Girls of Steel is like and the goals that we try to achieve.
After the full group discussion the FTC members left to go to the other class room where Austin, our FTC mentor, told us more about how our year was going to work out. The challenge this year for FTC is called “Relic Recovery;” in this challenge we try to get the most points by building and programming the robot to do certain tasks. We also have to plan the most efficient way to do all the tasks to get the most points.
In the second Girls of Steel meeting, on September 27th, we continued to discuss the strategy for the FTC competition and what tasks were more important than others. We also started to discuss the engineering notebook that we would be keeping after every meeting that would include sketches and descriptions as to what goes on in the meeting and what thoughts we went through to get to a certain decision.
The third meeting, on October 3rd, entailed a lot of the same things – we discussed the future meetings and planned what the engineering notebook would look like but we also got to take a look at the robotics kit that we would be using to build the push bot. We organized the kit by the different pieces and then started building. We finished the “H” base and the wheels by the end of the meeting.
In the fourth and most recent meeting (October 10th) we continued to work on the push bot and at the end of the meeting we added the second entry to our engineering notebook. We also split the FTC group into two teams and decided on names that were all the real names of inspirational women in STEM! I am on team B, FTC 9981, and the female role model that we chose was Ada Lovelace because she was a woman who demonstrated power and authority in the programming field. A runner up was Rachel Carson, but we decided that though she was from Pittsburgh, she did not work in the same precise field as us and therefore not the best choice for our team. Therefore we are now known as Girls of Steel Lovelace! Team A, FTC 9820, selected Hypatia, a woman from ancient Alexandria, Egypt, well known for her work in mathematics. They are now known as Girls of Steel Hypatia!
Tuesday’s are regular all hands meetings for FTC and FRC. For these meetings we gather in the large conference room with both Girls of Steel teams (FRC and FTC) for announcements and updates and do team building games (with our Triads) that are fun and engaging.
Additionally, Girls of Steel does a lot of outreach events which are mainly to get the word out about Girls of Steel and what our mission statement is – Empowering women and girls in the pursuit of STEM by exemplifying female success in robotics. The FRC members have a requirement to go to ten outreach events for returning FRC girls and five for new FRC girls. While the FTC teams don’t have a similar requirement, girls are still encouraged to attend outreach to learn even more about GoS and FRC. I, as well as other FTC girls, do choose to go to the outreach events. I decided to go because I want to make sure that I can get as much experience and knowledge about Girls of Steel as I can before I join FRC next year! The outreach events are also a great opportunity to really get associated with some of the FRC members and really see that Girls of Steel is bigger than just putting a robot together, we are a team!
While the FTC and FRC teams are distinct, we are all part of a larger program, Girls of Steel Robotics. Every FTC meeting a few FRC members come down to the FTC meeting with us to mentor and assist with their experience. They give us things to think about as we work and remind us of decisions that we need to make. We are all really becoming a team and I can speak for everyone by saying that this is going to be a once in a lifetime experience!