Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Inspiring students, one robot at a time.

A Girl's Journey in Robotics


Entry ID #: 4652
Created: Mon, Jan 8, 2018 6:56 PM

*pictures go along with paragraphs*   I am Payton Bailey and I have been the only female on the High School VEX Robotics team 2567X for the past two years. I was aware when I decided to study engineering for the rest of my life freshman year in my classroom full of 23 other classmates, all male, I would have to deal with being in a predominantly male field. However, I had accepted that before I had ever thought about joining the best experience in my entire life, the high school robotics team.       You might be thinking, “Why is she so okay being surrounded by men 24/7?” I’m not, I have challenges. The robotic boys do not understand everything that I go through or even how my brain works sometimes, but they are always willing to listen to me no matter what because they know I have quality ideas that will benefit the team.       So that's where my story begins, after spending 2 years of high school with boys in my engineering and robotics classes, I finally decided to give up running track and field to join the high school robotics team my junior year.  My first year of robotics I was completely clueless. I had no idea how I would fit into a team of males who already have ideas for robots and know exactly how to build them. So, I turned to another female on the program team. A female who had a year of experience under her belt and could tell me exactly what I should to do. She and I were very similar and we soon came to a conclusion I would benefit my team by being the documentor and lead scout. During this time, I was figuring out everything about VEX robotics as a rookie is when I think of girl powered the most. I was put on a task of learning VEX parts, learning how we are building a robot, learning how parts go together, and most importantly, learning how to document the entire experience. Even though the female I asked for advice was a competitor of my team, she still helped me learn the process of documenting and answered any question I had.       Throughout my first VEX robotics season, I made forever friends. Friends who my children who will call “Uncle.” We had great success last year, but one of my greatest accomplishments was at the VEX State Championships. Now I had been overlooked all season because nobody really knew what I was doing. They believed I was just a girl on the team because my boyfriend was on it. However, they did not realize I would spend 10+ hours on the notebook documenting everything I can about our robot, and that finally paid off at State. My entire team was very apprehensive about state because we had 2 seniors who wanted to go to Worlds. However, when State did not go our way because of bad luck, we were completely heartbroken because we did not think we were going to get our bid to Worlds. When awards came around they announced the Design Award, an award based heavily on the documentation, and it was MY team! My notebook won the Design Award at State and we were going to Worlds! I felt so much happiness in myself, but I knew my journey was not over.         The next challenge for my team was the US High School Division Nationals, and my entire team worked together in preparation of competing against the best bots from the entire country.  I went outside of my comfort zone and started helping tweak programs, I took a lead role on my team, and I started to throw out fabrication ideas. A teammate of mine started helping me prepare the best notebook and binder documentation for this big competition. And after all was prepared, we set out from Indiana to Iowa. Nationals went smoothly. We made many friends and I met so many all girl teams who inspired me. I was once again challenged in rooming because my team was all boys and I had to deal with other teams of all boys laughing at me because I was a little girl trying to convince them to be our alliance, but I was able to prove to them I was more than that when my team was awarded the Amaze Award.       Once it was time for Worlds, I was completely enticed into the world of robotics. I was learning how to fabricate, I was learning how to complete the perfect interview, and how to search for strategies of other teams that will compliment our robot during competition. However, Worlds did not go how we would have liked, but I remember being extremely proud of my team at the end of it all, but I knew I was not ready to begin my senior year of robotics.       This year of robotics has been completely different to me. I have taken on a large leadership role on my team while still being the documenter and lead scout. I am using my girl power to lead my team to success as best as I can by supporting them and making sure they complete certain task to drive us on the right path.       My team does not look at me as a girl who probably does not have as good as ideas as them, but as a teammate who has ideas who will improve our team as a whole. They see a future in me and believe in me and my skills, but I owe this to only one person.       And that one person is Mr. John Kappes. He was the one who introduced me into the engineering field and made me fall in love with it my freshmen year of high school in a room of 23 male peers. He would make sure I was succeeding in the classroom because he saw the “engineering brain” in me and knew I could go so far into the field as a women. He inspires me to inspire others and I owe him the entire world for showing me my passion in robotics and engineering.       To wrap my entire robotics experience up so far: I am having the time of my life. The rush of the competition, the heartbreak of a lost, the sinking feeling in your stomach right before you win award, I love it all and I don’t ever want it to stop. I am truly meant for what I am doing, no matter my gender. Entrant: Payton Bailey Team: 2567X Title: A Girl's Journey in Robotics


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