Rockwall High School robotics team’s student officers (President – Gabriel Colmenares, EVP of Robotic Operations – Brandon Taylor, EVP of Public Relations – Hannah Cowgill, EVP of Business Operations – Aaron Smith), the Full Metal Jackets, recently flew to Washington, DC to attend the 2017 FIRST National Advocacy Conference. Only 40 teams from around the World attended the conference and these 4 RHS Students were the only ones from Texas.
The Full Metal Jackets arrived a few days early and visited the US Capitol, Library of Congress, Smithsonian museums, numerous monuments and Arlington National Cemetery. Riding the subway between the Capitol and the House Office buildings, learning in detail how bills navigate Congress and catching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier made a permanent impression on the students.
The students and mentors took part in the three-day conference that consisted of several training videos and four speakers (Ben Grove, Leslie Finnan, Megan Wolfe, Norm Ornstein) preparing them for meetings with their Senators and Members of Congress in their offices on Capitol Hill. They were able to meet at the offices of Chairman Hensarling, Senator Cornyn, Congressman Sessions, and with Representative Ratcliffe.
Their meeting with Representative Ratcliffe was extremely exciting for the student officers. They were able to talk to him about STEM education for about an hour. Ratcliffe took great interest in the conversation and gave the team members an insight into Cyber Security and STEM initiatives changing the workforce and also the world.
Finally, The students attended the NAC after party to see how well the team’s meetings had gone. Little did they know, Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST, was there.
Each student and mentor was able to talk to Dean Kamen and take pictures to always remember this unbelievable event.