Team: 1540 – Flaming Chickens (Catlin Gabel School)
Regional: Autodesk Oregon Regional
The Flaming Chickens take immense pride in how well Marina Dimitrov represents FIRST. The Catlin Gabel FIRST Robotics program has been running for 11 years. Hundreds of students have passed through the ranks of FRC Team 1540. Many harbor strengths in one thing or another, and some excel in a specific area. None equal Marina in scope, caliber and passion. She’s amazing at everything!
Marina’s rare combination of people skills and technical prowess vaulted her to co-captain of the Flaming Chickens within a year, as well as manager of the Outreach and Marketing departments. She’s also the first female co-pilot on our competition drive team. A natural leader, Marina’s enthusiasm never lags, and her outstanding work ethic means we never worry about a task getting done well. While also sought after to lead Mechanical or Electronics, she declined, and encouraged her teammates to lead them.
Marina loves sharing the wonderful impact of FIRST with others as much as – if not more than – she enjoys making robots herself. This season she is fervently working to increase awareness for FIRST by partnering with the MythBusters. She and OregonFIRST sent letters to FIRST HQ, Dean Kamen, and the MythBusters. Last year she organized a FRC demo to commemorate National Robotics Week, establishing a new annual team tradition. Marina won a competitive internship at IBM to help organize a girls’ STEM summer camp. She used that opportunity to foster a relationship between 1540 and IBM, showcasing our robot at the camp and a corporate event with almost 2000 visitors!
Marina tirelessly recruits girls into the engineering wonders of FIRST. She organized and ran this fall’s Girls’ Generation 23-team scrimmage, an event we started in which girls gain the engineering spotlight by taking over all technical roles on their teams. An accomplished driver herself, Marina stepped back and urged all the girls new to 1540 to drive and experience the engineering thrill of FIRST. At our fall preseason BunnyBots competition, Marina co-captained the first girls-only BunnyBot team in 1540 history! Give a girl a robot, and she’ll drive it for a day. Teach her how to build one, and, like Marina, she’ll be devoted to FIRST for the rest of her life.
She also manages a prominent outreach project at the Oregon Zoo: a unique 1540-designed elephant enrichment system. The project combines mechanical engineering, electronics, custom software, and interaction with the Zoo. Marina coordinated all facets, contributing to most. Impressed by the project’s success, the Zoo requested a proposal for inclusion in a new elephant enclosure. Marina‘s work at the Zoo and our preseason events exemplifies FIRST ideals.
Marina’s love of sharing her passion for STEM and the ideals of FIRST started early. Intensely interested in LEGO robotics, in 3rd grade she helped recruit and start the very first Montana FLL team. By the time she entered 5th grade she had helped push for the Montana FLL framework through Montana State University. Following her middle school FLL accomplishments, she entered the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and was declared America’s Top Young Scientist! This award created wider opportunities to share her interest in STEM. She spoke at various STEM conferences for middle schoolers – always explaining the importance of FIRST in building her scientific passion, innovation, and curiosity. Now she’s capped her FLL legacy by coaching a Catlin team, who, at the Oregon FLL Championship, won the 1st place Inspiration Award. Marina, always seeking to instill the values of FIRST in others, certainly inspired her FLL team to be role model members of the FIRST community.
Since the beginning of her FIRST career 9 years ago, Marina Dimitrov has been championing FIRST ideals and infusing thousands with her infectious passion for STEM. With such aptitude and talent, it’s clear she could achieve great success in any field. The Flaming Chickens are delighted with her devotion to FIRST.