FIRST Team 3504, The Girls of Steel, was founded in the fall of 2010 at Carnegie Mellon University. Initially, the team consisted of 24 girls from 12 different schools, and 4 different educational options. The team welcomes applications from girls in the greater Pittsburgh area, regardless of financial status.

Girls demonstrating for Bombardier.


The team is fortunate and grateful to have the support of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the Field Robotics Center. CMU serves as a central location for all the girls, coming from over a 600 square mile area, to learn and actively explore the field of robotics.

The name “Girls of Steel” was decided through a team brainstorming session. It meshes perfectly with the central image of our logo–Rosie the Riveter with a robotic arm. Rosie was made during World War II, illustrating the power of women who took over jobs in factories (producing munitions, etc.) when the men went to war.

“We Can Do It.” Rosie’s famous saying and the symbolism of female empowerment allow girls on the Girls of Steel team to feel that they are making a big contribution. In a male-dominated field, the Girls of Steel believe that it is crucial for women and girls feel respected as strong, hard workers.


2013-2014 Girls pose rosie-style

FIRST Team 3504′s rookie season was memorable. Going into the kickoff of the game “Logomotion,” no one had a solid idea of what the season would hold. Six weeks later, the team had completed a robot (Crush) and a minibot (Squirt).



We won the Rookie All-Star Award at both the Pittsburgh and DC regional competitions! This award is the equivalent of the Chairman’s Award for rookies, and double-qualified the team to attend the World Championships in St. Louis. There, the girls competed against teams from all over the world and made lots of new friends. While in St. Louis, the team was also fortunate to go to a Black Eyed Pea’s concert celebrating the 20th anniversary of FIRST.

2011-2012 marked the team’s 2nd year participating in FIRST. The team grew close to 60 girls from over 20 schools. As the season progressed, we were able to build a robot that successfully shot basketballs, pushed down a bridge, and balanced despite being top-heavy. We received the Engineering Inspiration Award, Website Award, Dean’s List Finalist Award, Innovation and Control Award and our mentors won the Volunteer of the Year Award!  The Engineering Inspiration Award qualified us to travel once again to World Championships in St. Louis. There we once again competed against a variety of teams from all around the world and we had a lot of fun doing it!

The 2012-2013 season was the Girls of Steel’s third year as an FRC team.  Our robot, Eve, was able to successfully shoot discs and climb to the first rung of the pyramid. This year we decided to only participate in one regional.  At the Pittsburgh Regional we received a Dean’s List Finalist Award. Our team was also lucky enough to once again receive the Engineering Inspiration Award that qualified us to travel to the World Championships in St. Louis. At St. Louis, our Dean’s List Finalist became one of the ten Dean’s List Winners! We were very excited and happy.

Girls of Steel at the Buckeye Regional Engineering Inspiration Award

Girls of Steel at the 2014 Buckeye Regional
Engineering Inspiration Award

The 2013-2014 season was our fourth year as an FRC team. We founded two FLL teams and established the junior team member program.  After finishing 12 preseason training meetings our 39 girls (includes 4 8th grade junior members) were prepared for kickoff on January 4, 2014.  During the following 6 weeks we built our robot – Atlas – to compete in Aerial Assist.  Atlas was able to collect balls, pass them, and score in the low goal. We competed at the Buckeye Regional Competition in Cleveland OH where we received the Entrepreneurship Award and the Engineering Inspiration Award. The Engineering Inspiration Award qualified us to travel once again to World Championships in St. Louis.  At the Greater Pittsburgh Regional Competition we received the Entrepreneurship Award and we were thrilled when two team members received the Dean’s List Finalist Awards. We were very excited to attend the 2014 FIRST World Championship competition in St. Louis. At St. Louis, our Dean’s List Finalist became one of the ten Dean’s List Winners! We were very excited and happy.



2014-2015 Girls of Steel 8th – 12 grade girls









We began the 2014-2015 season, our 5th year as a team, with an orientation meeting for all new girls on September 23, 2014.  Regular preseason meetings (12 weekly meetings) began on September 30th. With a growing junior member program, we began the season with 21 returning girls, 18 new girls, and 18 junior members. We finished the 2015 build season with the Bag & Tag of Ada on February 17, 2015. While Ada was in the bag, Bada was used for drive team practice and testing by the programming team.


Chairman’s Award Winners at CMU

We competed at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional and ranked 26/54  and at the Buckeye Regional we ranked 47/56.  We were honored to receive the 2015 Buckeye Regional Chairman’s Award which qualified us to compete once again at the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis. We competed well at Championships ranking 45/76, and we received the Curie-Carver Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as well as the Media and Technology Innovation Award sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal.

In addition, our FLL program consisted of 18 students on two teams that competed in the 2014 World Class challenge: FLL 2641, “Bricks, Sweat, and Gears”, and FLL 4212, “FIRST LEGO Legends.” Our 2014 FLL Jr. program began at the Winchester Thurston Lower School in February.  We worked with twelve 2nd and 3rd grade girls on the 2014 Think Tank challenge: FLL Jr 2397, “The Interesting Team” and FLL Jr 3813, “The Six Awesome 3rd Graders.”

The 2015-2016 season was our 6th year as a team. We  started the season with 50 high school girls and 17 8th graders. This year the 8th grade junior members are learning about the new FIRST Tech Challenge system and will build robots using Tetrix robotics kits. We held 11 preseason meetings scheduled between October 6th and December 15th.  The FLL program consisted of 20 children on 3 teams: 2641, 4212, and 18137, meeting weekly on Thursday and Saturday to prepare for for the 2015 challenge Trash Trek.

Members of the 2015-2016 team.

2015-2016 Girls of Steel 8th to 12 grade girls

We competed at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional at California University of PA  and the Queen City Regional at Xavier University in Cincinnati.  We were honored to receive the Entrepreneurship Award at Pittsburgh and the Engineering Inspiration Award at Queen City, qualifying us to compete at World Championships in St. Louis.

The seventh season, 2016-2017,  for the Girls of Steel began on September 27th with an orientation for all new girls – girls new to teams – FRC 3504 and FTC 9820.  We began the season with 52 FRC girls and 17 FTC girls.  Our FLL program of 3 teams, 2641, 4212, and 18137 began with 24 boys and girls in grades 4 to 8.  The FLL teams meet every Saturday from 12 to 4 pm at the CMU/Girls of Steel Robotics Practice Field at NREC.

1617 Team photo cropped

2016-2017 Girls of Steel 8th to 12th grade girls.

We competed at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional at California University of PA  and the Buckeye Regional at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University in Cleveland OH.  We were honored to receive the Engineering Inspiration Award at Pittsburgh, qualifying us to compete at World Championships in St. Louis.  We were thrilled that our mentor, George, received the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award at the Pittsburgh Regional.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Elissa Reply

    One of my proudest moments as a woman and a mother was walking into the robotics lab half way through the build season and seeing a lab full of young women for whom working together for hours on metal shop, programming and electronics was now the NORM. It was so social, so smart, so clearly the future of what having a critical mass women of will bring to engineering that it made me catch my breath.

    It’s everything we’ve fought for in women’s rights, happening right now.
    Thank you FIRST, Carnegie Mellon, and the amazing mentors of 3504!

  2. Richard Realivasquez Reply

    Hi Girls of Steel,

    I work for MysticArt Pictures and I would love to learn a little more about your team. MysticArt Pictures is casting a documentary series about life in America as experienced by high school seniors. Fifteen teenagers will be filming themselves and the world around them; the series will reflect their point of view, providing a portrait of a generation.

    We are looking for high school seniors all over the country, from all walks of life. The students chosen will be flown to New York City for a weekend to study documentary filmmaking from Emmy and Oscar-winning mentors. After their trip, the students will be sent home with their own camera equipment to film their own documentary of their last 6 months of high school.

    This series gives the students the opportunity to share their unique stories with the world. We want this show to inspire others by showing a self-portrait of what life in America is like today for high school seniors who are on the cusp of that pivotal moment in their life where they transition from child to adult.

    If you could put us in touch with students who are involved in your team and may be interested in participating, it would be tremendously appreciated.

    Jigsaw Productions will produce the series. Jigsaw Productions won four Emmy Awards this year for its work with HBO and Showtime, and is home to director Alex Gibney, who won the Academy Award for Taxi to the Dark Side, received an Oscar nomination for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and a Sports Emmy nomination for ESPN’s Catching Hell. Jigsaw’s latest film, The Armstrong Lie, follows cyclist Lance Armstrong, and the company is producing a four-hour special about Frank Sinatra for HBO.

    MysticArt Pictures is an award-winning casting and production company known for its unique, inspiring, and uplifting programming and critically-acclaimed feature films. The company takes on projects with the intent to change lives for the better, and our team could not be more thrilled to be contributing to such an incredible new documentary series.

    Please let me know if you need any further information.

    Thanks so much!

    Gratefully yours,

    Richard Realivasquez
    Senior Year Casting
    MysticArt Pictures

  3. Kimberlee Rackley Reply


    I have a rising 7th grader who is interested in pursing robotics. She would love to participate in this program. How can she become involved with Girls of Steel?

    • Rosie Reply

      Thank you for contacting the Girls of Steel. Rising 7th graders may apply to join the FIRST LEGO League teams. Rising 8th graders may apply to join the Girls of Steel as junior members. Applications are available on the home page of the website.
      -Girls of Steel

  4. Tom Thompson Reply

    So glad my Alma Mater is involved in First Robotics and sponsoring a team! My oldest son is on a team in the Pacific Northwest, near Seattle.

  5. Kathy Sutton Reply

    My daughter is in 9th grade now and loves her robotic’s class. How can she apply to your team?

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