“I was asked to help students to create a Robobot the first year, only six weeks prior to the first competition. I had two very dedicated students who worked tirelessly with the assistance of multiple manufacturing partners. They came up with a spinner that taught them about design, engineering and perseverance. They were hooked and have since graduated from college with degrees in Civil Engineering and Computer Science Engineering. They did have a functioning bot, they learned about manufacturing and they inspired others to keep a team at Cleveland Heights High School. It was during the first competition that I was approached by an AWT member about expanding the opportunity for “girls”. I knew that it was unlikely to happen at Heights but my 8th grade daughter who came to that first competition stated, “ I would like to try to build a robobot.”
I approached Gretchen Santo at Beaumont High School who was the Academic Advisor to the Academic Scholars. I told her that I had a team at Heights and we would share our documentation and would help find her the Engineering assistance. AWT provided Christopher Tool as a manufacturing partner and four freshmen and a sophomore from Beaumont signed up to be a Robotics Team. Each of these young ladies worked weekly with their advisors and at Christopher Tool every Saturday from 7:00am – 11:30am from October to May. I remember their first match and the sneers and laughter of the nearly all male teams. After all, the girls had colored decorations on their robot and had named it “Deus Machina.” The boys did not know it meant “God out of Machine” in Latin. Deus’s weapon was a titanium spinning wheel with carbide inserts that was scary when it fired up and made short work of their first few competitors. The ladies made Beaumont proud for many reasons that day. They presented their design demonstrating poise and teamwork, they evaluated other designs and provided spare parts and tools to other teams and finished in second place. My daughter, Julie, was completely responsible for the documentation and was asked to share and did share their documentation for other teams to use as a guide.
They left that competition determined to win the AWT the following year.
They did win the following year and have had success each year they have competed. I have also noticed that many teams have been influenced by the Beaumont design. In their 2nd year there were five teams remaining and my Heights team was set to face Beaumont which had knocked our team out of the competition the previous year. We had not lost yet and I encouraged my team to forfeit to my daughter’s team. They laughed at me and with great confidence told me that this was the year that they were going to beat those girls. It was less than 12 seconds later, our bot from Heights was immobile and in pieces . My daughter, Margaret, an 8th grader, was laughing and said I want to have a robobot, too.
The first Beaumont robotics team was the driving force to adding a CAD class at Beaumont and adding a second team. They used their success to encourage other females to pursue STEM careers. Each Beaumont graduate is currently in college pursuing STEM careers. Four have interned in Manufacturing roles in local Cleveland companies. All would tell you that they love combat robots and their experience in the AWT provided them with the opportunity to succeed. They learned to problem solve, to work in teams, to benchmark, to communicate clearly and to present their ideas. They committed to each other and themselves that they would build a successful Robobot representing Beaumont and AWT on a local and National level.
AWT has meant a lot to my family. As a “retired engineer” it has given me the opportunity to share my love of design with many. My oldest daughter, Julie, who competed for four years is in college pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree and loves it. Her favorite machine is the Bridgeport. She has used the skills to be a leader on school projects and builds for her engineering classes. She also spent the summer working as a mechanical engineering intern at Christopher Tool, her former manufacturing partner. Being the documentation leader and learning to operate the machines, translating paper to finished product, has led her on this path.
Margaret is a senior and the driver. This is her fourth year on a Beaumont team. She also loves combat robots and is planning to study Industrial Engineering next fall. She is planning on winning this year and talks about robobots to everyone who will listen. It has taught her about time management, leadership and teamwork which are life skills. With multiple manufacturing partners, her team has had to face obstacles and the pressure of competition within our house. I have watched her growth and know her failures and successes as part of the Beaumont team have helped her shape her future.
My son, Andrew, is a sophomore at Benedictine and last year he participated in the TRI-C Youth Academy building task oriented robots with Arduino and VEX. He competed at Cedar Point and winning a trophy wasn’t the same. He would like to build a ground up Robobot that could ‘make scrap happen.'”