ME: What did you learn as part of a world
championship FIRST Robotics team?
J.H: Well, it helped me improve my grades
in high school. And some skills I learned,
like CAD, tool use, and the weighted
decision matrix, helped me get an internship
at Solar Turbines and a place in the Virginia
Tech College of Engineering, where I’ll be
studying this fall. On top of all that, I became
a part of an incredible group of students who
became more than friends; they are my family.
ME: What have past team members gone on
to do in their careers?
J.H: As our team is only seven years old most
of the students are still in college. But we’re
proud to say that 95 percent of our team members go on to pursue STEM-related careers
and 100 percent of our members go to college.
ME: What are some of FIRST Robotics' goals?
J.H: If I were to pick perhaps our broadest goal
it would be to change our culture. Currently, it
seems that the younger generations only look
up to the actors and athletes. Unfortunately,
very few of us can be athletes or actors. The
world doesn’t need athletes or actors, either.
What the world does need are engineers,
scientists, mathematicians, and innovators.
ME: So what’s a competition like?
J.H: Whether you’re in the pits, the place
where students work on their robots, or in
the stands, the level of camaraderie, spirit,
and excitement for STEM is practically unreal.
You’ll see robots of all shapes and sizes, each
with its own innovative solution to the problems presented. Team mascots roam around
the pits and the stands. Songs are blasting
TECH BUZZ || ONE-ON-ONE BY JEAN THILMANY
over the speakers and teams will get up and dance in between matches. It’s really
fun for everyone and something you won’t experience anywhere else.
ME: But how do you pay for everything?
J.H: Building robots isn’t cheap! The most common method teams get money is
through corporate sponsorships. This is an opportunity for students to learn about
the real world of marketing; companies are picky and getting sponsorships can be
ME: How do students learn on the team?
J.H: Our team uses something called the “Calf-to-Cow” program. Rookie students
are paired with older students in, basically, a miniature-mentoring program. Over
time, through first-hand experience, younger students develop useful skills such
as CAD, programming, and how to carry out the engineering process.
ME: So you see the students grow?
J.H: When I was a freshman, I had hair down to my shoulders and hardly ever talked.
I was afraid to speak out and I really didn’t see myself as a successful engineer or
a leader. I worked for four years, learning everything about the team and slowly
became a more confident and competent member of The Holy Cows. A few months
ago, a freshman student on the team walked up to me and told me I was his role
model. I was shocked but humbled, and I finally understood the impact FIRST
Robotics has had on myself and on thousands of others like me. ME
THE HOLY COWS ROBOTICS TEAM AT HIGH TECH HIGH IN SAN DIEGO,
Calif., brought home the top honors at the FIRST Robotics World Championship. The team received the Chairman’s Award at the event, held last
May in St. Louis. The award goes to the team that best represents a model
for other teams to emulate and most embodies the purpose and goals of
FIRST, according to For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, which organizes the competition. The Holy Cows participate in
outreach programs all year round and also collaborate with other teams.
We recently spoke with Jeremy Howe, 18, who recently graduated from
High Tech High and who served four years with The Holy Cows.
Q&A JEREMY HOWE & THE HOLY COWS
Carmel Fiscko, left,
Ambar Avila, holding
sign, and Jeremy
Howe, holding trophy,
celebrate winning the
The Holy Cow robots compete in the ring.