When I was younger I found AI and Robotics fascinating, but I never knew how to start. If you’re in the same spot, I recommend you read this article.
My family is very tech-heavy so when I was little and expressed an interest in AI and robotics they advised me to take every tech-related class I could. So that’s exactly what I did. When I was in middle school, my interest in robotics began to peak. I took the same robotics elective three times out of pure interest. After the second time in that class when I was in Eighth grade, my teacher said to me, “I want you to join the High School Robotics team, I feel like you’d learn a lot more then you are now.” Of course, I told her I would love to. I took summer classes with the team and began to get to know everyone which is when I learned that I was one of five girls on a team of about forty people. Sadly because of COVID-19 I only got the privilege of attending one FIRST robotics competition, but with all of the time, I spent on a robotics team I have so much advice to share.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned while working in AI and robotics is to not get intimidated. I know it can be scary to ask your older peers questions, but they are your most valuable resource. When I first started I was way too nervous to do so because I didn’t wanna be judged. I thought it would make me seem like I wasn’t qualified for what I was doing. But to be qualified you have to ask questions. Sometimes I didn’t even know what to ask but hearing other people’s questions and having instructors repeat things really helped me.
The best place to ask questions would be in any club meetings or large events like FIRST robotics competitions. Which is where I would say I learned the most. Even if your interests do not lie in robotics and you’re more interested in coding, I still would highly recommend joining a team. During FIRST robotics competitions you will get the chance to meet teams from many different places who know tons of things you can learn from. I learned a lot from just looking at the other team’s bots. All of the teams are super willing to help you out because they can get points for it in the competitions (it’s not very moral but still, help is help!). For example, our robot stopped moving in the middle of a match and afterward the booth next to ours helped us fix it when we were completely clueless.
Another great resource everyone should use is youtube. There are so many creators out there who have videos teaching you how to code. When I was in 7th grade I was taking a Python class at school and we had an assignment to create a calculator. I was super confused no matter how many times my teacher and peers tried explaining it to me. So later that night I went on youtube and looked up a video explaining it and it made so much more sense. If you want to start coding I highly recommend starting with python, then HTML, and then java because python is similar to java and it makes it easier to learn the other languages, but to each their own!
What to take away from this article
Talk to your friends or upperclassmen who have similar interests as you and ask them questions, they are a really big help!
Use youtube to learn different coding languages!
Join a robotics team that enters in competitions if you have the chance.
Take coding classes if your school has.
Join a club or even make one!!