All-Girls Team from San Ramon, Calif. Won VEX Robotics’s Inspire Award

Ritu Jha-

Robots of the coming generation are fast evolving and the AI technology is finding its use in more than just the Information Technology industry.

Clearly, the scope for the robotics industry is vast and it is still in its nascent stage of development. The industry is currently is overcrowded with men and there is very little room for women, and that led a group of girls from the city of San Ramon in California to change that narrative.

There is a newly emerging VEX Robotics Team that aims, “to create a safe and positive environment for girls to grow and compete in robotics,” as stated in their mission statement.

Team 2772J, the Metalbenders, is a ground-breaking all-female team that has the passion and the will to take a stance against gender discrimination in the STEM field.

In an exclusive interview with indica News, the team members, Vrinda B., Megan J., Ruhi B., Sneha M., and Jia J., all between 15- and 16-year-old, talked about how they got into robotics and what has been inspiring them.

“All of us were fascinated about robotics from a young age, as it was a creative outlet with practical uses and implications. However, our interest in robotics peaked during high school, and each team member got different robotics experiences through community clubs and events. Eventually, we decided to form our own robotics team,” they said.

When asked about the reason for entering VEX in particular, they said the game environment is fun and inviting, and offers many opportunities to express ideas in creative ways.

“VEX Robotics has many unique opportunities to express creative designs. It fosters the growth of creative design solutions, which has really helped us learn a lot this year,” they said.

Ruhi one of the girls was excited to talk about the theme for this year’s global contest said it was “Tipping Point”.

Briefing about the contest Ruhi said, “where bots have to score rings on their alliance’s tower to win control of the field.”

The reveal video explaining the game is here:

The  2772J Metalbenders were also the first team from San Ramon to win an award at the VEX Robotics World Competition. The team won the Inspire Award, which is given to the team that “has inspired judges with their approach to the VEX Robotics program” and judges feel that the team is “passionate and positive”, according to VEX’s own criteria.

When asked about how Meatlblenders’ Think Fast Robotics came into existence Ruhi said, “The group was first formed in June 2020, when we came together and decided that we wanted to form our own robotics team. Then, we held many online meetings in order to discuss our goals, plans, and the logistics of starting our own team.”

One of the key challenges they faced was raising funds to fuel their passion.

“We started out by fundraising, as we needed a lot of money to buy parts. We were able to fundraise a little bit of money from ourselves and from crowdfunding, although it was not enough to get through the season. Still, we were able to start out with some basic parts we needed after paying registration fees. We then got started on drafting designs for our robot and built a fully functional bot. After we paid for and attended our first event, we were on the right track,” they said, and added they raised $6000.

When asked the team is just a year old, so how many hours they worked for the competition and who are their mentors,  said that each member works a minimum of 10-12 hours per week, as per club requirements.

Explaining further Ruhi said that uring week where they have an upcoming competition, the team worked for as much as 15 hours per member in order to prepare. “We are mentored by our team mentor, Ashish Bansal, and support from the team parents,” said Ruhi.

Although they are just taking their first steps in their passion, they are on the cusp of something great. These girls have set a clear objective of “aspiring to create a safe, positive and competitive robotics environment for high school girls to practice and compete in robotics.”

They also said, “we hope to expand and reach girls globally through our apprenticeship program and open teams with girls from all over California. We can’t wait to compete in this new season and be living examples of female roboticists.”

However, Ruhi said with a smile, “All are welcome to join the Think Fast Robotics.”