When Dakotah Mann attended classes at STEM School Highlands Ranch, he knew that working with engineering and robotics was a growing passion of his. While he didn’t end up graduating from STEM, he still joined STEM’s First Robotics (FRC) team while he was finishing high school. STEM’s FRC program gives its students the opportunity to work with robots on a team, and compete against other teams nationally. Following high school graduation, Dakotah continued with FRC, serving as a mentor. Eventually, he was hired by Lockheed Martin as a Systems Engineer, where he currently works. Even though Dakotah is now working in his profession, he has chosen to continue with FRC, now serving as a coach for other mentors and students. Dakotah’s story is an example of a student coming up through one of STEM’s programs, and voluntarily continuing with the program long after graduation.
“The reason I came back and joined as an alumni mentor and now an alumni coach is that STEM, and the FRC, and other after-school activities provided me with a lot of great opportunities,” Mann said. “Especially when I was growing up going through high school, especially not really attending STEM. Being able to join these programs at a different school, at different programs, and still being able to experience the environment that STEM produces was great for me, provided me with so many opportunities, and also provided me with the job that I have now.”
Dakotah went on to say that he feels it’s only fair that he help provide similar opportunities for new students that are coming up through the program. Dakotah is not alone in his effort to help other students voluntarily. Licia Lamb and Andy Hegemann are STEM School Highlands Ranch graduates who now serve as mentors for FRC.
“I kind of joke that it’s a family affair for me,” Lamb said. “My dad mentors, Dakotah mentors, all of my friends mentor and honestly FRC has become kind of this second family kind of thing where these kids are so incredible and they do such incredible things that it’s kind of more like I get the opportunity to mentor and they are granting that to me and I get to see what they get to do.”
“I decided I wanted to become a mentor because after leaving the team, there’s just a void of doing stuff,” Hegemann said. “The team allows for students and mentors to be an engineer and do smaller engineering projects that a traditional engineering job won’t let you do because they’re focused on huge, big projects all of the time.”
If you are interested in joining FRC or any other after school STEM activities, send an email to Sara.Phelps@stemk12.org
To see the full interview with the FRC students, click below.