Visitation Robotics Team to Compete at Regionals
The Robettes will defend their status as regional champions this Saturday.
With 17 members that first year, they were relatively small compared to many rival schools' teams.
But last year, they took first place at the North Star Regional Competition and went on to score in the top half of their division at the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in St. Louis, MO.
This weekend, they’ll compete to prove they can take the North Star Regional two years running.
“I think that the girls will definitely make it to the finals,” said Melissa Murray, who mentors the Robettes and teaches physics, engineering, astronomy and environmental science at Visitation.
The Robettes have had a tumultuous season. After testing their mechanisms at the Simley High School invitational tournament, they competed at the Lake Superior Regional in Duluth in early March, where they ranked 56th out of 64 teams.
However, after re-evaluating their competition strategy, the Robettes say they are confident they stand a chance at taking the title on Saturday.
But Murray specified that FIRST Robotics isn’t about winning—it’s about inspiring and educating the next generation of engineers.
“They learn a lot of really good real-world, hands-on engineering skills,” said Murray.
Being a Robette is a serious commitment. During the build season, team members spend at least 20 hours each week on robotics.
But with hard work comes success. Several Robette alumnae currently attend prestigious universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame.
Racine Hansen, a senior at Visitation and the team’s co-captain, had no experience in extracurricular science prior to joining the robotics team.
She is now planning to major in electrical engineering, a decision she says she would not have made without the Robettes.
“I think the most rewarding part is being part of a team that has a lot of the same values that I do with being a woman in science,” said Hansen.
The North Star Regional Competition will be held Saturday at the Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota. The Robettes will compete from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1:30-4:30 p.m.