Sixteen-year-old Dea Harjianto didn’t expect to become a builder and driver of robots for one of Middletown’s two high school FIRST robotics teams, but after some friends from STEM classes encouraged her to attend a meeting of the Palindrome Robotics team, a 4H team made up primarily of Middletown High School students, she was hooked.
“I fell in love with the whole atmosphere of the team and the idea of creating a robot from scratch,” she says.
As a sophomore in her second year on the team, Harjianto contributed the creation and operation of “Dr. Awkward,” this year’s competitive robot.
“I participated in the mechanical aspect, working on on physical aspects like the shooter system, the drive train, and the frame,” she says. “Along with that, I was the secondary driver. During competitions, I would activate several features of the robot like the shooter and the climbing mechanism.”
Being a member of a FIRST robotics team isn’t all drive trains and shooters, she adds. “I also briefly worked on the business aspect of the team, which gathered the funds for the robot.”
Harjianto also stressed that, in a robotics team, cooperation is paramount. “This past season, I’ve learned a lot about teamwork,” she says. “While there are independent aspects to robotics, there should never be a case where one person is carrying all of the weight on their shoulders. In building a complicated object and system, like a robot, teamwork and communication is extremely vital to a successful outcome.”
Like a growing number of young women today, she sees the value in STEM and sees it in her future. “I really like the fact that the idea of STEM expands with each new discovery in the world,” she says. “As a result of those discoveries, the future generation is able to find a field best suited for them to continue expanding STEM in centuries to come.”
Still, she’s only sixteen, and hasn’t yet decided exactly what she wants to be when she graduates, though she has some ideas about what she wants to study after high school.
“I do want to major in the computer science and computer engineering field, but I’ve also been looking into chemical engineering,” she said.
Not all of her goals necessarily involve education and STEM: “My main goal in life would be to travel across the world, whether it be for work or for pleasure,” she says.
Sounds like a plan.-30-
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