Stacy Orr, Manager of Mechanical Engineering at ScriptPro, says,
“I truly never knew giving back a little could be so rewarding until I started working with the LEARN Science and Math club, a group dedicated to bringing science and math to students through hands-on experience.”
Last fall, Mike Skaggs, Senior Mechanical Engineer at ScriptPro, and Orr signed on as engineering mentors for a group to build a robot to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition. This is a team-based engineering challenge for high school aged kids, represented by 2,500 teams worldwide.
“With these kids we built a robot that could run autonomously, pick up and dump blocks, raise a flag, and suspend itself from a bar, staying aloft even with the power off. Both the kids and the adults worked together to overcome the hardware and software technical challenges, making a first rate Robot that did well enough in the KC competition to advance to and shine in State competition, then Super-Regionals.
“The technical challenges were only a piece of the puzzle. Not only were the kids there to compete, they also worked in Alliance with other teams. The Alliance had to take the strengths of each team and optimize their strategies to win a round. They moved to the next round with a new team, and a new Alliance developed.”
The energy and enthusiasm of the kids as they made their presentation gave Orr goose bumps – and they displayed amazing technical prowess. She says their engineering notebook was second to none, from both a technical and a marketing standpoint.
“To do well in this competition you must be well rounded in so many skills – technical, teamwork, research, oral and written presentation, and have nerves of steel to keep the focus while you’re racing.”
According to Orr, the kids had a bigger job; to carry out their mission of bringing hands-on technology to students. Throughout the year they undertook an abundance of additional projects, including City Imagineering, where kids build model cities from recycled materials.
“In Engineering Extravaganza, they designed and built such necessary devices as Pooper Scoopers, Marshmallow Catapults, and Zip Lines for ducks. Geeks vs. Geeks gave the kids an opportunity to mentor adults as corporate teams come together to compete with each other in robotics challenges.”
Skaggs taught CAD lessons to the kids, teaching a little technique, then allowing them to experiment and design their own creations. Orr notes that the previous year, after much research, the kids developed and provisionally patented a product called Script Alert, a prescription compliance device, winning them recognition and a grant from MIT!
About the entire experience, Orr says it has been an amazing group to be part of. And, the mission of the group is carried out one child at a time, using the principle of gracious professionalism to foster these children to become confident, capable, successful technology leaders in their life pursuits.
Now that it’s over, Orr says,
“I want to do it again!”