DUBAI, 17-year-old Abigail Herrera and her four other teammates known as Root Negative One, are representing the United States after having won the top honors at the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championships in Houston – known as the Inspire Award. Having been recognised for their excellence in engineering design, community engagement and innovation at that event, the team is confident about its chances in the FIRST Global Challenge in Dubai.
Team USA has been working since late June to ensure complete familiarity with their engineering design process. They started with the prototyping before anything was assembled and carefully digitized their plan leveraging computer aided design.
“We are trying to do everything at an industrial and professional level because we are aiming to teach ourselves real workforce skills,” says Abigail, who is Design Systems Lead of this robotics team.
In addition, this platform presents an opportunity for young women to think beyond robotics.
“We also carry out global community outreach to mentor teens from Peru and kids who have autism that are starting their own FIRST robotics teams, so for all of us this is more than just the robots. We’re very excited to be here today because we know that an opportunity like this comes once in a lifetime. And the fact that we’re all passionate about STEM and robots transcends the different global perspectives today, which I think is special,” she points out.
These young women are focused on introducing robotics, especially FIRST robotics to younger kids in their communities at home and abroad. We are working with local professionals to advocate for the implementation of FLL Jr programs in all public schools in their state. Using technical skills learned, they also assist special needs children with engineering solutions to the challenges they face, including developing prototype walkers and other mobility devices.
Furthermore, through mentoring teams from Australia, Turkey and Peru, these young women encourage other communities globally to take an interest in STEM and robotics.
“One of the issues that I’m most passionate about is getting women involved in STEM. And as we can see, robotics is an amazing way to do this. We’re seeing that there are gifted women everywhere around the world and this is just an avenue for them to show their talent,” says Abigail.
She sums up: “The number one problem with women involvement is fear of failure and I can easily say I personally have been one of the only women in the room keen on participating in programming competitions or robotics competitions.”
Source: Emirates News Agency