Woodrow Wilson High School's wildly popular robotics club finally get the facilities they deserve
October 26, 2019 - Dallas -- The Woodrow Wilson High School “RoboCats” Robotics Team announce their occupancy to a new STEM wing that includes 3,000 square feet of open flex space -- part of a $25 million Dallas ISD expansion at the high school.
The popularity of Woodrow’s engineering programs, including the RoboCats, has outgrown their current space, which has limited opportunities for greater student engagement and creativity. The new wing expansion offers more collaboration and minimizes physical barriers that otherwise impedes multiple teams working on large, autonomous robots.
The move opens the door to dramatic improvements in how the RoboCats market themselves and promote STEM to the leaders of tomorrow. One of the RoboCats teams benefitting from the expansion at Woodrow are the all-girls, “Mechanicats.” Started in 2017, the all-girls’ team has qualified for the state UIL finals in each of its first two years.
The Mechanicats will be using the new expansion at Woodrow to push their outreach even further by using the new space to host the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Design Your World event this November. The Mechanicats will also be using the new space to grow their SWE Next Chapter on campus and host multiple events for the Girl Scouts and other outreach programs within the Woodrow Wilson High School feeder program.
“Having an all-girls robotics team goes beyond tokenism; it is about bringing a strong demographic that was left behind out of the dark,” said Skylar Linker, leader of the all-girl Mechanicats team. “The fact that young girls’ interest in STEM-related careers drops significantly between middle and high school is dangerous. In today's world, the need for skilled workers in technology-driven career fields is growing every day and if we do not start closing the interest gap for young girls, the future is going to miss out on a huge opportunity.”
The other three FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) RoboCats teams are “RedScare,” “Retrobots,” and the “Theory of Robotivity.” There is also one FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team Team 5242. About 40 students are involved in the Woodrow robotics program, which was founded in 2012. The team is coached by four teachers and over a dozen mentors. Learn more about the Robocats here: https://wwhsrobocats.wixsite.com/5242
The new expansion at Woodrow will also play host to a multitude of high school robotics events including Dallas ISD FTC scrimmages, qualifiers, and even a North Texas Regional Championship. Additional events to be hosted in the new building will include STEM/Robotics camps and professional development learning events such as “Engineer Day-in-the-Life” presentations from actual engineers in the field.
For a deeper look into the RoboCats, please watch the 2018 Chairman’s Award video here. Also, please be sure to attend Woodrow Wilson High School’s 90th Anniversary on October 26, 2019, hosted by the RoboCats to meet the team and tour the new expansion!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What does FTC and FRC stand for and what is the difference between the two?
FTC stands for FIRST Tech Challenge and FRC stands for FIRST Robotics Competition. Although the two competitions both branch from the same nonprofit with a global reach of over 600,000 students in over 100 countries, FIRST, they do differ. Some of the differences between the two are the challenges assigned for each year (FTC’s challenge is Skystone, and FRC’s challenge is Infinite Recharge), the awards (such as FTC’s Inspire Award versus FRC’s Chairman’s Award), and the robot size (FTC robots must fit within an 18 inch cube, while FRC robots can be up to 4 feet tall).
How can I get involved as a student?
Please reach out to Coach Daniel Garrison (email@example.com) or visit the RoboCats website at wwhsrobocats.wixsite.com/5242. Also be sure to ask any of the RoboCats at the 90th anniversary celebration on October 26, 2019.
How many hours a week is required to be a member?
Practices are typically four hours per week. Outreach activities can be an additional one to two hours per week depending on the outreach event.
I’ve never built a robot before; can I still join?
Yes of course! In addition to the mechanical and technical aspects of building a robot, each team also has a requirement for outreach, planning, technical writing, communication, marketing, and other business-oriented needs.
How do mentors and sponsors get involved?
Also by reaching out to Coach Daniel Garrison (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the RoboCats website at https://wwhsrobocats.wixsite.com/5242/get-involved.
Article by Talula Knight
Published by Tomas Ariasi