Robotics member finds passion in engineering

Alyssa Jackson
  • Kiersten Barr is attending the Rochester Institute of Technology and studying mechanical engineering
  • She said the TechFire Robotics team solidified her drive to become an engineer
  • A $500 scholarship will help her pay her tuition and for supplies like books

Kiersten Barr is starting her first semester of college at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and is already anxious about a number of things: getting involved, handling the coursework and adjusting to life several hours from home.

Kiersten Barr, a graduate from Eastern York High School, works on the robot that she and the TechFire Robotics team built together. Barr received a scholarship from the York County robotics team for her work and future endeavors.

Thanks to the TechFire Robotics of York team, which she is a former member of, one thing the Eastern York High graduate won't have to worry about this semester is having a little extra money to pay for things such as school supplies, books or tuition. Barr was awarded the David J. Strickler Memorial Scholarship last Thursday, $500 that she plans on using on books and tuition.

"My college hasn't really sent us any financial help, so it was a good thing," Barr said.

Barr originally joined TechFire in fall 2014 and became heavily involved. In 2015, she became the safety captain of the team, and this year she was named co-captain. She spent most of her time on the mechanical build team and in the pit during competitions, fixing the robot on the fly. She graduated from Eastern in May.

Her work on the team solidified her passion for mechanical engineering, Barr said, which is why she's currently studying the subject at RIT. Her work with the team and her future work as an engineer are what made her the most deserving student for the scholarship, according to a news release. The scholarship goes to a high school senior or a currently enrolled college student planning to pursue an education in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art or Math (STEAM) subjects.

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David Strickler was the director of innovation technologies in the Research and Development Division of NRG Engergy in Harrisburg. He met TechFire in 2013 and helped the team organize its nonprofit organization, TechFire Robotics of York. He passed away unexpectedly at the age of 50 a few months later. The scholarship was created in his name to carry on his passion and work with the team.

Barr is planning on getting involved in similar activities on campus in Rochester thanks to the fun she had with TechFire. She's looking forward to the upcoming year and joining different engineering-based and Christian-based clubs. She said she'll miss the members of TechFire, though.

"I'm going to miss the people and the environment," she said. "You spend so much time with your teammates, you get close. It was cool to work with a bunch of high-schoolers to create such a big project."