I was first introduced to FIRST Robotics in 2004 when GM Canada sponsored our high school and created the robotics team later named Theory 6 (Team 1241). Being in grade 12 at the time, our inspiring rookie year left me with a lasting interest in robotics and engineering. Upon graduating from high school, I was accepted to the University of Waterloo Mechatronics Engineering program and won the UW/FIRST Mechatronics Engineering Entrance Scholarship. In the winter of 2005, while working at GM St. Catharines, I mentored and coached Team 1503, Spartonics, in two regional competitions as well as the championships. The 2006 year marked my return to my own high school and Theory 6, where we made yet another trip to the championships in Atlanta. For the next four years, I was sidelined from FIRST Robotics due to an ever-increasing list of other priorities, before finally returning once again to Theory 6 in 2011. In 2009 I graduated from the University of Waterloo, with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechatronics Engineering. Upon graduation, I secured a new grad engineering trainee position at Ontario Power Generation, where I currently design modifications to robotic inspection equipment for nuclear reactors.
FIRST Robotics Competition was an integral part of my high school years when I was on Team 771, SWAT (St. Mildred’s Women Advancing Technology), and it was pivotal to my engineering career. One of the reasons my parents chose St. Mildred’s Lightbourn School was because it had an all-girls robotics team. For that, I’m especially grateful. I gained exposure to technology, design, leadership, and teamwork. I built new friendships, became connected to my school’s community, and part of the FIRST international community. SWAT qualified and travelled to regional and international competitions. We won many awards! We had a ton of fun and were especially proud. It was a holistic experience that built my confidence in science and technology and launched my engineering career. Upon graduating, I was accepted to Queen’s University’s Mechanical Engineering program. At Queens, I joined the aerospace team where I applied my robotics knowledge. Since graduating from university, I‘ve been working as a Project Engineer in Power Systems at Magna International. It’s a rewarding career. I travel internationally and attend conferences that inspire women in the automotive industry. I’m often asked by Magna and by Queen’s Engineering Society to speak at university networking events encouraging women in STEM. My advice to these young ladies – don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone! I’m thankful for the opportunities that FIRST creates for women in STEM.