Ainsley Morrison, ’21, having begun work with Dublin School’s Robotics Team for the first time this year, discovered “a really big learning experience,” especially considering that Morrison had had no experience with Robotics prior to coming to Dublin.
An upperclassman told Morrison to join the team, and, in the spirit of “trying to join and try a bunch of new things,” Morrison showed up to the first meeting.
“I had never touched power tools before. I had never had any experience engineering things. This was my introduction,” Morrison notes. “The whole process of coming up with an idea, running it by your peers, and engineering and designing was all new to me.”
“There was definitely a learning curve,” Morrison smiles. “When I first got there, I didn’t even know how to think about designing a module for a potential robot. I didn’t know how to express my ideas since I was just learning how to think about the problems we needed to solve. The idea of sharing my ideas in a group was hard at first, as these were people I didn’t know and almost entirely upperclassmen.”
“The moment that everything started to click was when I was prototyping a design for the arm mechanism for our actual robot,” Morrison says. “I was working with a couple of other people, and I found myself starting to take charge. I started to think for myself instead of going along with the group. I started to lead.”
“Looking back,” Morrison reflects, “that felt really powerful.”
“Looking back to the beginning of the season to where I was not speaking at all to that moment when I was helping design a really important part of our final robot, I felt like I had grown.”
The FIRST Robotics competition itself was a transformative experience for Morrison, as well, in terms of thinking, leading, and learning in the moments that called for quick decision-making and potentially score-swaying action.
“The competition was so much fun,” Morrison says. “Before the competition, we were definitely working as a team, but at the competition, all of that team spirit came together. We started to feel so much more like a team. Everything was passing smoothly between us. The pressure of the competition forced us to come together in this amazing new way.”
Morrison’s first season with the Robotics Team was not only a skill-building learning experience; it was an experience in self-awareness and a process of recognizing different ways to step outside of previous expectations.
“I had never really considered myself to be a team player. I always liked to work independently, in school, on projects,” Morrison says. “But, in the process, I realized how much of a team player I could be—how much of a team player I can be—and how much my team could mean to me. I realized, or recognized, the reserve of team spirit I actually had.”