Girard RoboCats cement stellar STEM reputation


Kudos are nothing new to the mighty RoboCats, Girard High School’s accomplished robotics team.

Over the past two decades, the team has amassed scores of honors and awards, cementing its reputation as a Mahoning Valley powerhouse in the competition that places a premium on science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.

That reputation remained solidly intact when the RoboCats excelled at the recent Buckeye Regional robotics competition at Cleveland State University. We congratulate the team, its adviser Judy Barber and its mentors for advancing to the prestigious Global Finals of the competition next weekend in Detroit.

Team members’ skill and craftsmanship in robot construction and their zeal for community service throughout the Valley build an exemplary model for all high school students to replicate.

The RoboCats are no strangers to regional and global acclaim. The team, first organized in October 1999 under the direction of former Girard Schools Superintendent Joseph Jeswald, was the first in the tri-county area and one of the first in the nation to form.

Over those ensuing 19 years, the RoboCats have acquired an impressive inventory of awards and accomplishments. This year, for example, marks the 11th year that the team has qualified for top-tier global competition. In addition, the team has won many spirit awards, engineering inspiration awards, chairman’s awards and many others in the international FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] that involves thousands of teams from the U.S. and 60 nations in the world.

NERDS, THEY’RE NOT

Clearly, the RoboCats live up to their mission of making others aware of and excited about the STEM disciplines and of the importance of engineers to the future of our nation and world. In so doing, they powerfully expunge the mythical moniker of “nerd” that for too long had unfairly defamed stuents who aspire to STEM careers. Nerds they most definitely are not.

Instead they are stellar ambassadors of the rewards of hard work in the hard sciences. They are also active advocates of the value of community service. These Cats don’t isolate themselves within the confines of secluded robot-building laboratories.

Membership in RoboCats requires a demonstrated commitment to community service. To that end, team members have volunteered over the years at OH WOW! children’s museum, Relay for Life, Special Olympics and myriad other compassionate community causes.

Those qualities landed the team the Gracious Professionalism Award at this year’s regionals. It recognizes the team for its community service and outreach programs.

Such multifacing with the community validates the team’s motto: “We are not just about building robots. We are about building people. We are about building leaders. We are about building tomorrows.”

As such, the RoboCats deserve not only the community’s praise but also its support as it raises funds to advance its stellar tradition of excellence next week in the Motor City.

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