624 Alum Finds Success Through Robotics

From the Katy ISD websiteHigh school is a time for students to participate in organizations, discover and develop their interests, and realize the potential for future job opportunities. For Elizabeth Waters, a 2012 Cinco Ranch High School graduate, that realization came at the beginning of her freshman year.Currently a mechanical engineering student in her second year at Georgia Tech, Waters turned her passion for math, science and design engineering into multiple successful internships and potential job opportunities, all before her sophomore year of college. She also credits her involvement in the Cinco Ranch High School Robotics Program for defining her high school experience and preparing her for life after graduation. “As I got further in school, I realized that math, science and design engineering were subjects I was passionate about, and as I went through junior high and transitioned into high school, that became even more clear for me,” said Waters. “It was obvious in my freshman year of high school that mechanical engineering was what I wanted to do.”Waters’ love for S.T.E.M. subjects led her to join the Cinco Ranch High School “CRyptonite” Robotics Team 624, which she participated in all four years of high school, and even held leadership roles within the organization. As a nationally ranked robotics team, CRyptonite Robotics includes students from every grade level who participate in year-round competitions. Most recently, CRyptonite Robotics took first place in the Texas Robot Roundup in Austin, Texas. They competed against multiple Texas teams, as well as teams from Louisiana and Hawaii. A unique quality of the robotics program in Katy ISD is that the students have adult mentors that are parents of the students, Katy ISD staff, and even business partners from sponsoring companies. Waters was able to participate in multiple successful internships with the University of Texas, Wood Group Mustang (formerly Mustang Engineering) and Oceaneering Space Systems through the connections she made while participating in the Robotics Program. She gained valuable experience in the satellite design lab at the University of Texas as a technician and designer, and worked with the mechanical facilities at Wood Group Mustang, where she completed jobs that were equivalent to a new hire in the industry as a recent high school graduate. This past summer, she worked for Oceaneering Space Systems as a contractor for NASA’s Johnson Space Center. She was onsite every day with the mobility group to help build and design chassis for objects such as the lunar rover. “I think it is important to give students of all different interests the opportunity to really engage in programs that foster those interests,” says Waters. “For me that was robotics, but for another student that might be culinary arts, automotive design, or medicine.” The opportunities Katy ISD provided to Waters made pursuing a career in mechanical engineering a reality. “The education that I’ve had within Katy ISD has made it very easy for me to transition from a scholastic environment into a work environment, and be successful in that work environment,” said Waters. She believes that students in Katy ISD see the value in what they’re learning in the classroom by participating in projects or hands-on learning through their extracurricular activities. These opportunities lead students to academic success, and give them confidence that what they’re learning will be beneficial and applicable beyond Katy ISD.