Molly Dugan, senior at SCH Academy, received the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute FIRST Scholarship for her achievements in robotics and engineering. The scholarship is for $40,000 and will be distributed over four years. Molly was one of four students in the world to receive this scholarship.
FIRST is a not-for-profit organization that hosts robotics competitions for students in grades K through 12. It was started in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. It has since gained the support of over 200 Fortune 500 companies and attracted more than $18 million in college scholarships.
Molly is very involved with the SCH robotics team, Team 1218 Vulcan Robotics. She became co-captain in her sophomore year and is currently its president.
“My experience on this team has shaped me as a person and it is also shaping the course of my life,” said Molly. “When I went into high school, I really knew little to nothing about engineering. Quite frankly, I didn’t think I would be able to do it. But then, working with our mentors, I learned that I do have the capability to be a successful person.”
Throughout her time at RPI, Molly must maintain a solid GPA and be willing to grow. “That’s what the school is about, said Molly. “It’s about growing and becoming a better student, a better person for the workforce, and being the best you can be.”
Along with maintaining good grades, Molly also hopes to continue her involvement with engineering and robotics at RPI, which participates in FIRST competitions. College students act as mentors to FIRST teams, and RPI hosts a FIRST Robotics Competition, the New York Tech Valley Regional, where students volunteer to help make the event possible. She will also be entering RPI with an undecided major, believing that it is important to enter every experience with an open mind (something she has learned from her work on the SCH robotics team). However, she is considering materials engineering because of her interest at the microscopic level.
Although she is looking towards the future, she is still excited about her final high school robotics competition. This year’s FIRST competition challenge is called aerial assist, which is a game of passing a big ball among the robot team members and then throwing it through an opening.
According to her mentors, Molly has more than a knack for Engineering and Robotics. “She is a future CEO,” said James Martin, engineering and robotics teacher at SCH Academy and one of Molly’s most influential mentors. “She is a natural leader, has a tireless work ethic, and commands respect from underclassmen, peers, and mentors. Above all, she is kind. She smiles through her tough days, which is part of what makes her such a good leader and positive example to the rest of the team. We will be looking for someone to fill her shoes when she is gone.”