A Mechanical Oasis

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

With great celerity, I rushed towards the large, oaken doors, hoping that I hadn’t missed the start of a new adventure. After the doors creaked open with a slow, decaying roar, I quietly crept along the shadowed aisles, the seating area filled to the brim with rows of visitors, all teeming with excitement and anticipation for the assembly to start. The speaker, who had a proud disposition and even prouder beard, looked upon the audience before him and said, “I see great potential and future engineers in each of you here.”

The assembly was called as an invitation to my school’s robotics team, a place I had previously thought I had no place in. My older sister, who is currently attending college to pursue her STEM-related dreams, forced me to go to the meeting. She believed that, as a freshman, I should expose my mind to new hobbies and clubs in order to broaden my scope of the world and make use of the prized intellect that she claimed I possessed. Of course, going into high school, I never developed a sense of purpose and never aspired to do or become anything. I simply existed and lived day to day, struggling to hold onto what little I had left of my childhood. But I agreed to go, and thought to myself that this obligatory welcome would pass over me as if nothing had happened.

But that night never left me. I didn’t know it then, but that night I discovered something that I would truly love as part of my identity.

At first sight, the robotics team seems dreary, almost uninviting; a meager group of twelve returning students all enclosed in a dank, humid workshop with tattered tools. The deteriorating air quality coupled with the exhausted air conditioner completely melted the atmosphere, leaving behind an arid desert in its wake. Regardless, the team overflowed with unrealistic energy, and a zeal for engineering infected each and every one of the new recruits joining the team. From that day forth, I considered that desert to be my personal oasis. The small, lackluster work area became a cozy battle arena where ideas and designs fought to be included on the robot. The cacophony of hammers clanging and drills buzzing transformed into a symphony. And once it came time for the competitions, our “halcyon” days were over.

Screaming from the distant stands, teams brace for the thunderous charge of their mechanical “bulls” facing off in glorious sport. The rumbling fantasia spreads to the outer reaches of the stadium. Blinding flashes of cameras and steel plates fill the inner workings of the pit area, giving off a radiant sheen that evokes an overwhelming sense of pride from the students. No words can truly capture the essence of competitive engineering, other than to say that it is almost biblically awesome. Those days left an impression that allowed me to truly appreciate the chaotic, unpredictable industry of pursuing one’s dreams and aspirations. Simply said, the struggle forced me to leave behind the childish mindset of a middle schooler; I had to provide for myself, create my own opportunities, and carve my own road to personal success.

Joining robotics was a defining moment in my life because of what I gained from the mentors and students. Those new companions sparked a burning passion to do great things and invent new ways to solve the world’s ever-growing array of dilemmas, whether through robotics or through some other, equally collaborative solution. I will never forget the significance of that night or of the words Mr. Johnson (who still dons his beard to this day), or the industry that allowed me to grow up and aspire to ever-greater things.

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