Gratification in RoboticsBack to main page
I've been on the robotics team Citrus Circuits for three years now, and I'm very happy with what I learned, both in programming and in communication and leadership skills. It's really satisfying to be able to sit down and actually know things, and I'm always amazed when I'm actually able to answer questions that in my mind I tell myself "There's no way I could have answered that a year or so ago." It's also helped me in more than STEM fields, teaching me how to manage my time (we're often committing 25+ hours a week to robotics, and so to get anything else done I've really developed that skill), and communicate, writing better emails and knowing when to talk to other people to either clear up miscommunications or check in on projects that need to get started.
Citrus Circuits does more than just compete; we reach out to our community, hosting events, both for other robotics teams and for members of Davis (we also do some international stuff, but I don't need to go into that here). I've been responsible for organizing the summer robot demonstrations, which entails getting groups of students together on days during the summer to go and show the robot and talk about robotics to smaller kids, and I recently came across some images that really warmed my heart, and I think showed me one of the largest effects of being in such a cool organization.
I went to do a demo at a small elementary school just outside of Davis, and all the students wrote individual cards to the team and to individual people who presented. Here are the images of the fronts and covers of the cards:
And here are the messages addressed to me, the other three presenters, and the team itself:
Something about their cards really got to me, and I think made me realize that although I've gained so much from being on the robotics team, the most important thing is the support of others. By giving these kids opportunities to learn about something like robots, something that they might end up being very passionate about, I think it was a very large success, and I couldn't stress more how wonderful the cards that the kids wrote were. One day, if I have kids, I'm almost certainly going to bug them to write cards and thank you notes, because even though they might not understand it completely, those notes really give a lot of pleasure to those who receive them.
I am leaving the robotics team, to take time working on more of my own projects, but what I've gained from it, both technical and life skills, I'm going to use for the rest of my life. In reading this, if robotics sounds like something you would be interested in, look around! There's over 3000 FIRST Robotics teams throughout the world, and it's always growing with most teams always searching for potential new students or mentors.