As we prepare for a new competition season, I’d like to highlight my team and our work at UM::Autonomy, University of Michigan’s premier autonomous surface vessel team.

I was first introduced to the team as a junior at Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Florida, where my school competed against UMich in RoboNation’s annual RoboBoat Competition, formerly in South Daytona, Florida. It was here that my love for robotics and applied engineering was brought to a burgeoning frontier, ripe with learning opportunities and growth - a place to try, test, and fail while encountering real-world challenges on a level incomparable to the student teams and competitions that I’d been exposed to in the past. In this environment of dynamic discovery and engineering is where I encountered this team, a group of students so compassionate and willing to help others, regardless of the atmosphere of competition.

I’m glad to say that six years later, I’m leading this same team as the President of UM::Autonomy - though I still have so much more to learn, and so many perilous challenges ahead that I feel anxious to face. What I love is that through it all, the environment of the team and the atmosphere of friendliness and welcoming has never changed, and I want it to remain that way - especially since that is the heart of this team, and speaks volumes about engineering overall.

I’ve come to learn that often, the ability to work with people, manage towering projects, and communicate ideas effectively is far more overlooked and important than technical prowess alone. Despite being an incredibly technical field, I have realized that engineering is mainly about the people around you, how they communicate, and how they learn and grow together more than anything. While I have made that realization, I have far from mastered that skill of managing projects and communicating with people effectively, and I’m excited to grow that ability even further.

So as our team looks forward to the RoboBoat Competition in Sarasota, FL in 2024, and I look forward to my last year in school, I’m excited to take on another year of hard but rewarding challenges for my team and I - especially knowing that I have a strong, unwavering, and talented group around me.