Left to right: Stu Ehrich, mentor (retired automechanic, fabricator); Juan de La Riva, Capital High student; Rosemary Moore, Santa Fe High student; Michael Frey, SFCC engineering student (a co-founder of SFCC Robotics Club); Mark DevOlder, mentor (retired Los Alamos National Lab engineer) and Amanda Kitrell, Santa Fe High student.
Sara Lanctot, right, (SFCC engineering student and co-founder of SFCC Robotics club) visits an FRC team in Los Alamos.
Mentor Paul Sakion, electrical engineer, works with Neha Sukra, a Santa Fe High School student.
SFCC’s Robotics Club has been working with high school students and community mentors to build a robot for the FIRST Robotics Competition. The group is working in the evenings and Saturdays in an upstairs space in the SFCC Fitness Center.
Jen Kitrell is a parent whose daughter first got involved as a child in Minnesota. She appreciates the support that Dean Jenny Landen has given the program in arranging space for the program. FIRST offers opportunities for adults and students to become more involved in STEM, as well as giving students access to scholarship opportunities.
She said the team is small this year. Kitrell would love to see it expand with more SFCC student mentors. Those interested should contact her at FRCteam7649@gmail.com. She’s seeking other community mentors. Mentors are not just scientists, some are skilled at computer programming and others have skills using power tools.
One of the mentors Paul Sakion, an electrical engineer, has said that he’s been impressed with the philosophies of the FIRST program; particularly the concept of Gracious Professionalism. He said that learning to work as a team and creatively problem-solve is often what is missing in the academic setting. He also likes the FIRST idea of Coopertition, which is the encouragement of rival teams to help each other move forward.
The team will go into it’s first competition on March 12 in Amarillo, Texas. Kitrell said, “That’s when the real excitement kicks in. That’s often the spark that really ignites a student’s interest in science. It’s also when young people start thinking maybe I should study science or engineering in college,” she said.