The Society of Women Engineers asked our SWE-sponsored FIRST teams to update us on their progress, and our team from Posen, Michigan was the first to respond. The team has committed to diversity and inclusion with 8 boys and 5 girls.
Here we are nearing the end of week 4 of build season, and Wiking Kujon Robotics, Team 6077 is very close to having a working robot. Now in our third season, our success in the FIRST Steamworks game, making the Michigan State Finals in our second season has sparked more interest in Robotics among our student body, and increased the size of our team from seven students last season to thirteen students this season. Not bad for a school with only 235 K-12 students. Even more noteworthy is the 400% increase in female team members, from one to five. The rookie girls and boys on the team are making many positive contributions to the team and are learning a lot in their first season on a FIRST Robotics team.
Our team is hanging on to five veteran team members who have been with us since our first year and they are all extremely engaged, taking on leadership roles, and doing an excellent job of mentoring the new students. At this point in the build season, we are further along with our robot than we have been at this point in our first two seasons, but that doesn’t make our coaches and mentors any less nervous about completing the robot before bag day. Although, they know we will pull it off. We always do! We are more excited about this year’s robot than ever before. The combination of five experienced team members and seven new ones full of fresh ideas has really helped to improve our design process, and this robot will be our first to be entirely designed in SolidWorks, and entirely fabricated by our team, without having to rely on any outside sources for any fabricated parts.
Our biggest challenge this season has been fundraising, since we are now a third-year team, meaning the State of Michigan Grant that we relied on as a rookie and second year team was not as large. This caused us to seek out alternative sources of funding, including operating concession stands at local events, bottle drives, and even going door to door asking local business to sponsor us. We also sent over 200 letters to local businesses, and as a result we now have over 30 local sponsors who either support us financially or by donating materials and services! These efforts combined with new major sponsorships from the Society of Women Engineers and NASA, have provided us with a comfortable working budget for the FIRST Power Up Season. We are also very excited that our friends and neighbors at Wildcat Robotics (Teams 5230 and 5505) in Alpena, Michigan will be hosting an event this year, which will save us a lot of travel expenses this season.
Wiking Kujon (Polish for “Nerdy Vikings”) is mentored by local Engineers, Brian Konieczny, Nick Kowalski & Andy Stone, and is lead by our third year Team Captain, Junior, Jeremy Styma. We are very proud to be able to offer this program in our small town where students wouldn’t otherwise have a lot of opportunity to participate in STEM related activities. We would like to wish everyone the best of luck in the FIRST Power Up Season!
SWE has awarded grants to 10 FIRST Robotics Competition teams for the 2018 season through its Gender Diversity Grant, funded by the Motorola Solutions Foundation. Each team received a $1,000 grant in recognition of its focused efforts in creating equity, inclusion, and diversity on their roster and for including underrepresented and underserved populations in their recruiting efforts.