Hi, my name is Catherine Phillips and I am a junior at Peddie. I am a Java programmer and have been a part of Peddie Robotics since its inception my freshman year.
In the beginning, I didn’t know much code, but because of our college student mentor, Antonio Papa, I was coding robots in no time. I credit my success on the team mostly to the patience of our mentors in answering all of my questions, like “Why do we use a PID loop here?” or “What even is a bolt, anyways?”.
I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without my other team members. I have learned a lot, not only about code, but also about working as and with a team. In the beginning, I was on my own, trying to learn as much as I could. However, having now been thrust into a leadership position, I teach and organize the other programmers so that they can continue after I graduate. This was initially a huge fear of mine -- I wasn’t sure if I even knew the material well enough to be able teach it to others. That all changed when I saw how our former drive coach, Mike Van Glahn, Jr. (whom we called “Little Mike” and is a mechanical engineer), was able to help with code simply by asking the right questions. This carried over to the competition field, where he could clearly communicate what we needed to do and helped the drive team understand the “hows” and “whys” of the strategy. His constant encouragement is the main reason why I became the drive team operator, which has been essential to accurately troubleshooting issues on the field.
Another crucial and community-based aspect of FRC is all of the friends from other teams I have made; I now have friends from all over the world. This goes without saying, but some of the most important people I’ve met have been right here in New Jersey. My friends on 1807, 2590, and 1257 have made competing in the FIRST Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships all the more engaging. Going to the World Championships is always a great experience because I can see my friends from all over the world, which is an invaluable experience. I hope I can continue making meaningful connections to the community and eventually give back in some way because FIRST Robotics has given me so much.