Designing Success

Eyes focused on her notebook, senior Alexis Proudman from Crown Point High School draws a concept sketch for a robot. Proudman and her team were tasked with constructing a large robot in only six weeks. “We build robots that can be six feet tall and weigh 120 pounds,” Proudman said. “They’re a lot bigger than [typical team robots] and we build them from scratch.” Photo by Hayden Sisemore.

Senior Alexis Proudman leads Crown Point robotics team

   It wasn’t until the day of the competition that the Crown Point robotics team tested its design. The robot, which stood nearly six feet tall when fully extended, had been designed and assembled by a team half the average size in less than six weeks. Not one member of the team had built a robot with an elevator, a robotics mechanism used for raising objects as a part of an objective. During the course of the day, parts of the robot detached and malfunctioned, and s enior Alexis Proudman wasat the center of the maintenance. Through her experiences, she has learned how to problem-solve, design and execute plans in a short amount of time.

 “We’re given a game at the beginning of the year and then we have six weeks to build [a robot] from scratch [that can succeed in the game],” Proudman said. “First we design [the robot], and then we prototype it with wood. After that we build it with metal and assemble and weld it.”

   After three years of hard work, Proudman became the captain of Crown Point’s robotics team for the 2019-2020 school year. As the captain, she manages a team of 16, which is below the average team size for building such large robots.

   “Our team is considered to be a very small team,” Proudman said. “In comparison, some other teams have nearly 100 members.”

   Proudman followed in the footsteps of her older brother, who sparked her interest in robotics and even served as the team captain the year before her.

   “I went to one of [my brother’s] competitions and I loved it,” Proudman said. “I joined freshman year. Now, I’m the only person who has been on the team for four years.”

   Although Proudman does not intend to pursue robotics or engineering as a career, she expects some skills she developed in her time on the robotics team to help her in the field of environmental science.

   “Working with machines will help me stand out, alongside learning the design process,” Proudman said. “Working with others [on the team] has definitely helped me with speaking to other people because I used to be really shy and now I’m not.”

   Despite being one of two girls on the stem-focused team, Proudman has had no problems with working with the male-majority team. Instead of viewing the gap in the gender ratio as something that isolates her from her teammates, she focuses on their common task at hand and cares for each member of her team.

   “I love them all,” she said, smiling. Story by Hayden Sisemore.