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Women Take Charge at South's BEST Robotics Championship

Published: 12/18/2018

By: Carla Nelson

Looking around at the recent South’s BEST (Boosting Engineering Science and Technology) Robotics Championship hosted earlier this month at Auburn University, women were involved in every aspect of the competition. With components that include marketing, engineering and more, the competition attracts around 40 percent more women than similar robotics competitions.

The Billingsley High School Robotics Team, which competed in this year’s event, has a higher number of female than male participants.

“You really wouldn’t expect there to be a bunch of females building and putting the booth together and drilling in screws since that’s labeled a man’s job,” said freshman Hannah Emfinger. “With there being a lot of females on the team, we all work together to do that type of thing.”

Shelby Donaldson, Billingsley High School senior, said she joined the Robotics Team for the leadership experience. Shelby compiles the engineer notebook for the team and said she feels males and females all feel included on the team.

“Our sponsor makes sure that everyone is included in the same way,” Shelby said. “Because my job is the notebook, everything is done before competition day, but I can still help assemble the booth today. There wasn’t expected to be a male sitting there putting in screws and stuff.”

Rachel Rook, a senior at Wetumpka High School, said their team operates like a business with women leading most of the team.

“We have the business side which markets our robot, engineering which builds it, technology and programing which programs it and can further market our robot,” Rachel said.

Wetumpka High School senior team member Larissa Duke said she has been a member of the team for four years and is excited to see more women participate each year.

“Our engineers are primarily male, but we do have a couple of females there now and we’re excited to see that growth of women in the engineering field,” Larissa said. “I really like the fact that it’s preparing me for my future because I would like to go into business management.”

The Wetumpka High School team won the “Best Spirit and Sportsmanship Award” and “Best Engineering Notebook Award” at this year's competition and both Rachel and Larissa said they feel being part of a robotics club and the BEST Robotics Championship is preparing them well for their future.

“I have enjoyed finding joy in creating code and software and testing it and making something that goes into a final product,” Rachel said. “I enjoy contributing to a whole and having a valuable part in it. By doing this with BEST Robotics I have realized that I love software engineering and that’s what I want to do after I graduate.”

 

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