For the third year in a row, the YCDS Gearhounds have competed as a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team. Since last year, the team has more than doubled in size according to Jessica Babcock, one of the members of the Gearhounds. The Gearhounds are one of 118 FTC teams in Pennsylvania and 5,500 teams world-wide.
Jessica and her teammate, Jagr Krtanjek, have been nominated for the FIRST Dean’s List. They are currently Semi-Finalist and waiting to interview in the state-wide pool of applicants. Only a fraction of students will move through as the Dean’s List process continues.
Students who are nominated for the Dean’s List are leaders on their teams and have shown significant contributions to their community, as well as a high level of technical skill and understanding. Those who are awarded the Dean’s List honor are recognized by colleges and universities across the country and are often awarded scholarships based on this achievement.
Jagr, a sophomore, has been involved in FTC for five seasons and is an original member of the Gearhounds. In addition, he was a part of bringing FIRST Lego League to YCDS as a seventh grader. Currently, he also participates in the FRC team, Techfire 225. Jagr intends to continue his education in engineering, and he credits his work with the Gearhounds and Techfire for discovering this passion. Specifically, he enjoys designing in CAD – a design-based computer program. Jagr is honored to be nominated for the Dean’s List because it makes all his efforts on the team feel worthwhile.
Jessica is a junior, and like Jagr, she plans to continue studying engineering when she graduates. She is also a member of the Techfire 225 team and said that it is not uncommon for both she and Jagr to spend 7 days a week working at the Techfire workshop during build season. Her specific love in the engineering realm is mechanical. She is a hands-on type of person and likes to physically build the robots. For her, being nominated for the Dean’s List reaffirms all the hard work and hours that she has dedicated to the team and the FIRST community.
One thing both students love about FTC is that it isn’t just about building a robot. You learn life skills of problem solving, working with others and communication as well. As a team, they must create a business plan and have a social media presence in addition to engineering. The team even had dedicated people to scout, assess and plan match strategy during competitions. Jagr and Jessica made sure to point out that even though everyone has individual jobs on the team, each person contributes to the actual building of the robot. Part of their job as teammates is to teach each other and spread FIRST’s mission to inspire students to engage in and pursue Science and Technology in their lives.
The Gearhounds completed their competitive season this past weekend as finalist in the Central PA area. In addition, they were awarded the Connect Award at their December tournament which is an indication of their exemplary job of connecting STEAM to their community. Jagr and Jessica believe that the school hosting kick-off events, placing a focus on STEAM and the culture change contributed to winning this award.