For DonorsFor Applicants
user profile avatar

Rebagrace Lee

805

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

Bio

I am a passionate FRC robot builder with goals to design, machine, and manufacture animatronics. While I excel in the classroom, I am at home in the machine shop working with lathes, mills, and other tools. My goal is to be a face of women in STEM. I actively work to achieve this goal by hosting Girl Scout coding badge work, being interviewed by the media, showcasing FIRST and FRC to the Prime Minister of the UK, and attending numerous community outreach events such as AwesomeCon, festivals, and schools. When I'm not building robots or studying, I am busy rock climbing, hiking, or doing arts/crafts.

Education

Compass Homeschool Enrichment

High School
2017 - 2024

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Mechanical Engineering
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Mechanical or Industrial Engineering

    • Dream career goals:

    • Pet sitter/caretaker

      Self-employed
      2016 – Present8 years

    Sports

    Climbing

    Intramural
    2017 – 20181 year

    Arts

    • Music
      2020 – Present
    • Drawing
      2016 – Present
    • Compass Homeschool Enrichment

      Dance
      2022 – Present

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      FRC 8592 — Outreach leader and participant
      2020 – Present

    Future Interests

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Jiang Amel STEM Scholarship
    I am known in my community for my love of making projects and building things. Since I was six, I knew I wanted to build and manufacture robots, and I started taking LEGO Mindstorm EV3 robotics classes. I learned of my love for manufacturing when I was slightly older, around eight, and started working with my grandfather in his workshop building skateboard ride-ons, props, and campers. I have always taken apart mechanical builds to learn how they work and then put them back together again to fully understand how the components come together. As a young child, I started by taking apart pens, strewing parts across the table. Now, I take apart and build robots on my (FIRST Robotics Competition) FRC team. My FRC experience has given me access to many new manufacturing techniques and tools, and has also given me an opportunity to lead the mechanical team. In building the robot, I use all the basic tools in the metal shop, and I was the first student on our team to earn the invitation to learn how to use the more advanced tools, such as the metal lathe and vertical mill. My leadership position requires me to work with my mentors to learn leadership tools so that I can participate in our team's slogan of "We build people, not robots." One specific robotics field, animatronics, has been a particular passion of mine for the past few years. How mechanical systems and soft materials come together to create lifelike movement in a robot is fascinating to me. In between working on school work and FRC, I have two or three projects in progress at the same time, with a constantly growing list of waiting projects. These might be sewing, yarn-based, sculpting, fine arts, or 3D-printing (some examples of my work can be seen on rebagrace.com). All this exploration moves me towards my goal of becoming an animatronics roboticist. The constant challenges and creativity poured into animatronics projects results in creating a creature and robot that stimulates emotions from the viewers. They let the viewer escape from their own world for a small amount of time and enter this new one where their current stress is not at the forefront of their minds. Each project is different because the mechanical function for the character is different. There is always a new challenge to think through, and the end project feels a bit like magic because a character with some sort of personality has been created. This field brings together my passion for machining with all my other creative interests and my interest in helping people feel better. In the past, I belittled my interest in animatronics, believing that it was not true engineering. However, over time, I've learned that brining people happiness actually helps people live more fulfilled lives. I am going to college next year to start a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware (UD). As I researched colleges, I prioritized schools focused on project based learning, with a heavy emphasis on design and outreach. I specifically looked at schools that had machining and manufacturing in their curriculum because I want to learn the connection between design and manufacturing. UD also has programs that combine engineering with service work, such as Go Baby Go and Engineers Without Borders. My goal as an engineer is to bring joy to people, be it through solving a problem in their community, helping a disabled child move around more easily, or creating a character to immerse a person into a different world of joy.
    Women in STEM Scholarship
    In middle school robotics classes, I was the only girl. The boys told me I could not build robots because I was a girl. While the boys talked and built, I worked by myself, needing to prove I could build successful robots. I became quiet, putting my head down to focus on building robots that could complete the challenges. It was hard and isolating. For high school, that experience inspired me to find an FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team that valued people and created community. Our team’s motto is “We build people, not robots.” As a member of our Student Leadership Team (SLT) and the mechanical sub team leader, I have dedicated myself to learn how to build a team culture based on respect and inclusion, while also learning design and manufacturing to achieve our build goals. As a community team, we value diversity in our team and teach each other about how to work with everyone respectfully and equally. By learning about psychological safety through SLT, I have helped grow a team culture where everyone can feel like they can come forward with a mistake and whenever they feel like they need help. As a leader on the team, I have worked on making sure that everyone has the opportunity to be included in decision making. Once, at a post-event debrief, I noticed that one team member’s voice was louder than everyone else’s. The females did not speak at all in that session, and I was very concerned about why they did not speak. I reached out to my coaches to ask how I could use my own voice in discussions to help prompt and include other female voices more. After that, our team restructured how we did our debriefs by using sticky-notes and white boards. One of my own personal goals is inspiring and connecting with other young women engineers. When I initially joined FRC, the team had twelve members, only two of us being young women. Now, two years later, we have about thirty team members and eight of us are young women. Because young women are still a smaller percentage of the team, my team and I have worked to bring us together. We have recently developed a “Ladies of the Lab” group, which invites all the young women and women coaches on the team to come together as a community to support one another. Also, through my FRC team, I have been able to connect with young girls about STEM at outreach events (such as elementary schools, high schools, festivals, and FIRST Lego League events) and by leading Girl Scout robotic badge events. I am inspired to connect with other females to inspire them to get into STEM, and I repeatedly work with my FRC coaches to learn how to be a woman engineer. I study how to help inspire women to go into and stay in STEM, and I seek out mentors to help me do the same. When I attend college, I plan to look at the clubs and join women in STEM clubs like SWE, women in robotics or mechanical engineering, and other similar groups to help create a supportive group of women in STEM.