All-girls team breaks barriers at FIRST Robotics Competition

Mar 20, 2024 | Campus News

By Isabelle Ferrante, Krysti Jaglal

The Humber gym became a battling ground for the 29 groups to show off their robotic creations as they participated in the 2024 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and, among the participants was Alectrona, the only all-girls team.

The team from Aurora, Ont. is competing for the first time, and while they were ready for match time, it wasn’t always smooth sailing.

Sisley Tao, member of Alectrona, said the journey to get to where they are was long but worth it.

“It was a mix of fun and sleepless nights,” she said.

“It’s really fun to get to just see your creation move and compete against other creations from other teams. And it’s just like, it’s just you get a sudden sense of pride.”

Along with the team members being new to the competition scene, Alectrona had to start from the ground up because, unlike the other teams in the competition, they had to raise funds to secure their spot at FIRST.

They initially put together a GoFundMe but didn’t reach their goal of $30,000 to cover the Team Registration fee and minimum parts cost. So, with the help of parents and some small sponsors, they got on their feet but unfortunately it was already two weeks into the season.

But they overcame that obstacle, and Min Liu, the mom of a team member, can’t help but feel proud of their achievements so far.

“Everything here is so different, it’s not like other games, and the process is different, and everything,” she said.

“We’re new so, you’re going to get lots of experience with your new team and just overcoming the challenges gave us another piece of the learning process.”

As mentioned in their GoFundMe, their mission is to inspire and empower young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). By participating in the FRC, they provide their members with hands-on experience in designing, building, and competing with a robot, fostering valuable skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership.

Vivienne Quin, the coach of the girls’ team, said it’s important to have more women in STEM.

“It’s always seen as a boys’ game,” she said.

“Parents always think it’s not for girls. ‘She won’t be interested because they’re all boys. So we think it’s very important to enforce an environment for the girls to join and once they step in, they will see it’s not something where girls can’t do it or girls won’t be interested,”

After Humber, the team will travel to McMaster University from March 28 to 30 to try to earn points and secure their spot at the Provincial Championship in Mississauga from April 3 to 6.

Sisley Tao knows it’s going to be difficult but despite what happens, she’s happy where she’s at.

“I got awesome teammates, and we got an awesome robot.”