November 11, 2019
A group of students huddle together on the court of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, ready to demonstrate what makes PPHS unique. While other schools present drumlines, choirs, and dance troupes, our students arrive with their arms full of batteries, controllers and robots. Standing in the middle of the court, Junior Audrey discusses what makes FIRST Robotics at Purdue Polytechnic High School special. “It’s more than a team,” she says, “it’s a family”.
Audrey discusses the skills she’s learned during her time as a member of SuPURDUEper Robotics, including gaining the confidence to stand up and speak in front of people, just like she’s doing now. She shares that it’s not just for “nerds”, there is a spot on the team for everyone to shine. Finance members manage the team’s budget, business and marketing members reach out to community partners for donations and sponsorships, coders program for the automated challenges and of course, the more engineering-minded students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience building a fully-functional robot.
The VEX team takes the court next, a group of mostly freshmen with just a few months of experience as PPHS Techies. Even though they are robotics rookies, watching these students present, they could easily be mistaken for seasoned robotics veterans! They discuss the intangibles of what robotics teaches you, including teamwork and the determination to stick with things when they get hard. Ella, a student on the VEX team describes how teamwork is not only limited to within the PPHS team but within the VEX community as a whole. She shared that when her team was struggling with a certain part of the design, she reached out to another local VEX team who shared their solution for a similar problem. This determination is put into action when, during the robotics demonstration, the robot tips forward and falls over. While the audience giggles at the sight of the robot face-planting into the mat, the VEX team calmly adjusts their controls and the robot rights itself and keeps on going. The maturity and tenacity it takes to calmly and confidently fix a mistake while standing in the middle of a HUGE arena is a testament to the culture of the robotics team and our PPHS student body as a whole.
As a final thought, both teams encourage anyone to check out robotics and join a team! Better yet, join our award-winning robotics team at PPHS!