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Rockwall High Robotics Visits Washington D.C.

(ROCKWALL, TX — July 15, 2019) Rockwall High School students from FRC Team 1296, the Full Metal Jackets, recently attended the 2019 FIRST National Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C. to advocate for STEM funding (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) on Capitol Hill. The conference was attended by EVP of Public Relations Eva Kay Stewart, EVP of Business Operations Joshua Sadler, VP of Robotics Construction Austin Taylor, and Team Member Averleigh Fisher. The conference was attended by over 65 teams from 22 states, and four of those teams were from Texas. The team was accompanied by Full Metal Jacket’s Chairman’s mentor Danna Taylor and 1296 Spirit Mentor Kim Stewart.

These students were able to visit several of the incredible sites that our nation’s capital has to offer, including the Capitol Building, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Mall. In addition, the students had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery, the Kennedy Gravesite, the Eternal Flame and witness the changing of the guard. This was a very humbling experience for the students and one that had a profound impact on them.

Students and mentors alike then took part in the two-day conference. During the conference, students listened to talks from multiple speakers (including Karen Hughes, Ronny Lau, Deborah Rigsby, Dr. Kelvin Droegenmier, Alex Nock, Chris Neitzey, and Erik Peterson) and learned the important process of creating and passing bills. Students were also taught the basics of talking to members of Congress. After two days of hard work, the students were finally ready to go to Capitol Hill.

The students then met with Senator Ted Cruz, and Senior Staff of Senator John Cornyn. The students met with their elected officials and talked to them about the importance of STEM funding and encouraged them to further fund the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and pass the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act, in honor of the teacher who lost her life in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

The students then met with Representative John Ratcliffe to talk about cyber security and their newest initiative, STEM Gals. After meeting with Rep. Ratcliffe two years ago, the Full Metal Jackets were told about the projected 1 million STEM worker gap that was expected by 2022. This led to the creation of STEM Gals. STEM Gals is an offseason robotics competition created and hosted by Team 1296 that promotes women in STEM and features female referees, MC’s, volunteers, drivers, and women in other roles. The past year Team 1296 worked to make STEM Gals known throughout Texas and they were able to make STEM Gals Day an official day in the City of Rockwall, and the State of Texas. In addition to STEM Gals, the Full Metal Jackets also created the 1st FIRST Lego League Jr. team in Rockwall County. With these initiatives promoting STEM, robotics, and cybersecurity, the Full Metal Jackets hope to keep the United States at the forefront of STEM and cybersecurity.

STEM Gals competition will be held on October 12 and North Texas Tournament of Robots will be on October 13. Both events will take place at Utley Middle School in the gym and are open to the public.

Through talking to their representatives these students from RHS were able to make an impact, and through our hard work we ARE changing the world.

Submitted press release by Josh Sadler, RHS Robotics.

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