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Melissa, Alumnus of FRC Team 612

I was a FIRST Robotics kid in high school. I’d joined out of interest for the robot but, stayed for the ridiculous amount of knowledge I was given beyond just bot building. I could never have imagined the process of requirement capture, designing, prototyping, troubleshooting, and all the other nuances that an engineer had to take into account. It’s more than just putting things together, it’s looking at all the angles, being creative, problem-solving! I loved stepping back and looking at the big picture, finding the pieces and polishing them to see how they fit. I took my passion to Virginia Tech as an Industrial and Systems Engineering major with a Computer Science minor. I joined an all-girls engineering community as a freshman, I got involved with STEM outreach, I coached a team for FLL, and I’m heavily involved in Cyber-Physical Security Research with the Center for Innovation-Based Manufacturing. I’ve somehow been fortunate to do all this alongside the best friends I’ve ever had. The friends who I go out with on a Friday night downtown for some food, dancing, plays – to enjoy my life at VT. Now, I’m waiting to walk that stage for my diploma in less than 50 days. Then, I’ll be taking my full-time as Software Engineering Analyst this summer. I’ve learned so much and I’ve loved every minute of it.

If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s take charge of your life. You are the only one who can make the call on what you want to be and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Even if it seems like it’s just “not the way things work”, step back, listen and learn from what different people say, and decide for yourself if you think it’s impossible. You may just surprise yourself.

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