Kate Azar

Member of the Class of 2013

Team: 2177 – The Robettes (Boston Scientific & Convent of the Visitation School)

Regional: Lake Superior Regional

Nomination Essay:

Team 2177, The Robettes, would like to nominate Kate Azar for the Dean’s List. Over the past two seasons, Kate has showed the passion, ability, leadership, and community outreach this award was created to celebrate. At every meeting, Kate shows up with more questions than we’ve seen from a student. She has demonstrated the ability to build everything from an entire electrical system for a robot to a compact circuit board. When she was a rookie, she took on a leadership role within the electrical team, allowing the seniors on the team to step back and focus their energies on the Chairman’s award. Finally, she initiated a process that has directly led to Best Buy becoming strongly involved with FIRST in Minnesota.

Kate’s passion for FIRST and our team has led to a better understanding of our robots for every student involved. Unlike most other students, she has read through all of the documentation for every part of the robot control system. She designed a test platform for motor controllers, allowing the team to clearly observe the differences between the 4 different types of controllers allowed this year. She is now working on a white paper to help distribute these results to the rest of the FIRST community. Her tendency to ask questions and dive into the details of how and why things work has been a great benefit to both her and the entire team.

Her technical ability has easily matched, if not surpassed, our best graduates. When she was a rookie, she helped to design, test, and build two homemade optical encoders that were then utilized on the competition robot. As we approached the end of the build season, she worked harder than anyone else to get the robot wired up once the mechanical team was finished with construction. In the off season, she has increased her knowledge of the control system, helped to train new members, and presented at the MN Splash event, educating over 100 students and mentors from other teams about the control system.

As a student leader on the team, Kate has demonstrated all of the traits we expect from our leaders. She is often the first student at each meeting, helps to organize students and activities, and ensures the electrical team stays on task through the entire meeting. Outside of our regular meetings, she has organized and held special sessions to bring other members up to speed and to prepare materials. Her natural energy and enthusiasm acts as a model for all other team members.

The night after kickoff of her rookie year, Kate asked a very pointed question – why isn’t Best Buy sponsoring FIRST? She pursued this over the course of the season, working with mentors to write two requests for sponsorship applications. The first was for our team, while the second was for FIRST in general. Over the course of the next few months, she pursued these requests, eventually presenting directly to Best Buy’s CTO and the founder of the Geek Squad. When she was done, he simply replied “I get it”. The team received substantial funding from Best Buy, and FIRST was able to direct additional funding from Best Buy to three other teams in need. Best Buy also launched a program this summer called “Tech Teen Summit”, and as a result of our established relationship, The Robettes were invited to participate and lead a hands-on robotics project.

Kate has demonstrated over the past two seasons that she is, without a doubt, one of FIRST’s All Stars. Her dedication and energy at the meetings is an inspiration even to the mentors. Her knowledge of the control system easily surpasses any other student we’ve talked with. Unlike many other upcoming students, her rookie year we didn’t talk about how great a leader she would be in the future – we talked about how great a leader she already was. Her effort to engage the community, both within FIRST and without, has surpassed any other student we’ve ever had. Not only does Kate deserve this award, we feel she is the embodiment of what this award seeks to celebrate.

Some Good Press:

Visitation Junior Named Finalist for National Robotics Prize

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