Emmie Casey Builds Bots!

From my first visit, I was determined to go to St. Stephen’s. The campus is beautiful and the students were welcoming, but I was really looking forward to the challenge. I really like all of our teachers. I feel like they are open to you as an individual. I feel that everyone in the school community is open to diversity and treats others with compassion. I love my group of friends; I feel that we all have each other’s backs and are willing to support each other, both academically and socially.

I like all the options we have at school to find our own interests. I like to get involved in many things, but the challenge is finding enough time to do them all.

I have been interested in engineering for a long time. When I was younger, one of my babysitters was a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering. We would make things together. She really inspired me to try engineering. For the Invention Convention two years ago, I created the SmartLocker 2023, a school locker that unlocks with your thumbprint. It won the Best Technological Breakthrough Invention award.

I became involved in robotics in seventh grade, when science teacher Troy Lanier made an announcement at lunch about the Middle School robotics club. I had no idea what we were going to be doing. At my old school, there was a robotics team that did competitions, and I had always been interested in trying it out.

Last year, we started off the club by making light-up Halloween skull pins. We took a pre-made circuit board that was shaped to resemble a Dia de los Muertos skull, and soldered light bulbs where the eyes were.

Then we moved onto making spiderbots, which has been the most interesting project I’ve worked on. Each student got two spiderbot kits that had two sets of legs with a motor in the middle to connect them. After we assembled that, we were able to modify it ourselves and individualize the project. We then added infrared sensors and used Arduino circuit boards and, with a little coding, had self-driving spiderbots! At the end of the year, we even had a race!

This year, we finished several projects, including talking Halloween skulls and “useless machines” ― laser-cut boxes with a motor and gear box that is configured to flip switches on and off. I am also looking forward to hacking a Barbie car ―one big enough for a child to sit in ― to make it self-driving.

I love being in robotics club and getting to hang out with people who have similar interests as me after school. We get to make things and learn about robots and coding. Last year I won the Domo Arigato Award in Robotics at the end of the year. It was a surprise, and I was very excited. I think Mr. Lanier saw that I was dedicated to the club and recognized that I had been helping others with projects whenever I could. This year he made me head of the club.

In addition to robotics, I enjoy playing field hockey and golf, singing in choir and playing piano, and studying Chinese. I am also in Newspaper Club and president of Middle School Student Government. I enjoy being able to go to the school’s makerspace [Project Idea and Realization Lab] during study halls. Spring term I worked with senior Jenna Rogge to make prosthetic arms for people who were either born without a limb or are an amputee.

I’m interested in studying engineering in college. I don’t know what kind yet but biomedical and aerospace, along with mechanical and electrical, are on my mind.

―Emmie Casey, Class of 2023
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213