Meet Sabrina, Undergraduate Robotics and Electrical Engineering Student at Lake Superior State University in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.
Sabrina is getting a double major in Robotics Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Getting a double major means that she is getting two bachelor’s degrees in engineering.
What made you decide to go into Robotics?
Growing up, I was fascinated by how items around me worked and how they were made. Have you ever noticed all of the moving parts in car washes? When I was a kid, I thought they were amazing. It felt like we were in an amusement park! Seeing all of the moving parts without humans doing all of the work was really interesting.
I found a Women in Technology camp at my university where I got to do hands-on projects in all different kinds of engineering. During my last two years of high school, I enrolled in an electrical and robotics program. This program helped me decide which university to attend. It helped me decide to earn two bachelor’s degrees, one in Electrical Engineering and another in Robotics Engineering.
What did you know about Robotics when you were growing up?
When I was a kid, I watched cartoons that had robot butlers or robot houses. All I knew about robotics in real life was the industrial arms used in factories. I always wished robots could enter people’s homes. As I grew older, robotics technology was being used more outside of factories. Hearing about the growth of robotics got me excited for the future.
Tell us about a time you failed. How did you move on from that?
When I first started college, I had to take an introduction to engineering class. We had a final LEGO® robotics competition at the end of the semester. My team and I built a LEGO robot and programmed it to go through an obstacle course. These robots needed a specific voltage of battery to work right. I was in charge of putting in the batteries. Well, I accidentally put in batteries that were half dead, so the voltage was not right. Our team did not make it through the first round because our robot did not work well.
Afterwards, my team and I talked about what happened. We brainstormed what went wrong and that is how I learned that it was my mistake. Instead of leaving the competition and getting upset, my team and I laughed it off. We used this mistake as a learning experience. This failure has made me a better engineer because I was able to learn from it and move forward.
Do you have one piece of advice for our readers who might want to study Robotics Engineering?
One piece of advice I can offer to young female engineers is that it is okay to ask for help. When I first started in my engineering programs, I had a hard time with the easier stuff. The men around me grew up using tools and had no problem with the first few assignments.
Instead of getting discouraged and giving up, I talked to my teacher after class. I also reached out to my classmates. I came in before class to work on projects and studied extra hard between classes. All of this extra work has led me to winning engineering competitions. It helped me do well in my engineering classes. It even gave me the tools to help other students who are in the same position that I was in a long time ago.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. It shows determination to do better and work towards goals. The extra work may seem hard, but it is important to keep working hard and looking towards the future.