Founded in 2008, the Millerbots are the FIRST robotics team of Washburn Senior High in Minneapolis, Minnesota. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) is an international organization which hosts annual competitions to inspire students to pursue science and engineering careers.
Within Robotics, we stand by our slogan: “Where students design, build, and program and parents watch.” Our mentors and coaches, while remarkably helpful, are very hands-off and willing to teach valuable skills instead of merely demonstrating them. Students lead and execute 100% of the operations, taking roles that traditionally would be filled by teachers and parents. As a result, we learn to collaborate as one, to pass on our knowledge to younger members, and grow into great leaders.
We frequently showcase our robots at schools, bookstores, and annual state events. Our intention is to spread awareness of FIRST Robotics and STEM to our community, showing today's youth how important and fun robotics and engineering is.
The Millerbots don’t just build a robot. We strive to set students up for success, constantly improve the operations of our team, promote the awareness of FIRST Robotics throughout our community, and ultimately learn and grow together as a family.
What We Did This Season:
Our goal has always been to compete at the Detroit Championship, and this year our chances were higher than ever. Within the past year, we have raised over $12,000, which allowed us to participate in a second Regional in Iowa for the first time since 2009. While participating in Iowa, this gave our team the opportunity to resolve mechanical and programming flaws. The week after, while participating at our North Star (Minneapolis) regional, our robot performed much better, where we were ultimately ranked 8th out of 54 teams.
Besides our outstanding performance from our robot, our team won the Regional Engineering Inspiration Award, which granted us participation in the Detroit World Championship. This award celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community.
This past year we’ve doubled our fundraising and outreach, showcasing our competition robot, T-Shirt cannon, and 3D printed remote controlled omnibots throughout the Twin Cities. We were fortunate enough to mentor 4 FLL (FIRST Lego League) teams - three from Burroughs Elementary and one from Carondelet.
Internally, our team is made up of 30% girls. Within that 30%, 50% are currently in a leadership position and 60% are on build or drive team. For the past 5 years the team has been run by girls.
By advertising these strengths, we were successful in winning the Engineering Inspiration Award.
What the FIRST Championship is:
The FIRST Championship, this year being held in Houston and Detroit, is a gathering of many of the best and most devoted teams worldwide that participate in FIRST programs including FIRST Lego League, FIRST Lego League Jr., FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition. Each location will have tens of thousands of students and thousands of mentors and volunteers. It is a great chance for us to meet many other high schoolers who are engaged in robotics and engineering.
The competition itself is similar in form to the Regional Competitions that we attended this past week and the week before. We will have time to fix and prepare our robot on Wednesday followed by qualification matches on Thursday and Friday. The finals will be on Saturday along with various other events focused on celebrating engineering and the accomplishments of students throughout this past year.
What We Need the Money For:
Qualifying in world championships has been an absolute privilege that initially seemed unattainable. As a community and family, we want to share this one-of-a-kind experience with every member on our team. However, with the expenses of housing, transportation, and food, bringing all our members has turned out to be quite expensive.
Since the end of our regional, students have been working diligently to raise a sufficient amount of money. We are fortunate to have our $5,000 registration fee covered by NASA, however we still have a long ways to go. Our fundraising team has been working practically nonstop on finding us sponsors but given how soon the Championship is we need your help as well.
The Washburn Millerbots are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit so any contributions you make are tax deductable.
- Rudolph Greipel
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