Madeleine Logeais of Roseville, a junior at Visitation School in Mendota Heights and co-captain of The Robettes all-girls robotics team, earned one of only ten FIRST Dean’s List awards at the Robotics World Championship held April 26 in St. Louis, Mo.
Logeais is the first-ever Minnesotan recipient of the prestigious award, which is selectively given to exceptional FIRST Robotics Competition participants based on their leadership skills, commitment to FIRST ideals, contributions to their team, and their effectiveness in increasing awareness of FIRST within their schools and communities. 80 or more finalists are named, and winners are announced at a ceremony during the championship.
At the award ceremony, Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST and the inventor of the Segway, called the awardees “superstars” and praised them for their energy and passion for robotics.
Will.i.am, a member of musical group The Black Eyed Peas and a STEM education advocate, also spoke at the ceremony, saying “Everyone in this auditorium inspires me.”
Logeais was nominated by one of the team’s mentors, and as part of the prize package will receive a written letter of recommendation to the colleges or employers of her choice, as well as a trip to the FIRST Dean’s List Award Winners Summit in New Hampshire this summer.
Logeais’ co-captain and friend Kate Azar, a senior this year, was nominated for the same award in 2013.
Robettes coach Liv Anda Asplund, a Falcon Heights resident, says Logeais “took charge” this winter after a snowstorm cancelled school, and thus robotics practice, twice.
“She and a couple other team members talked about robot design in a Google Hangout [video chat],” Asplund explained.
Logeais says “everything!” is her favorite part of being involved with the team. Coach Asplund and even Logeais herself say she’s “hooked” on robotics.
“I love playing with greasy chains; the busy, purposeful energy in the shop during build; the thrill of when something you built finally works right; learning new things; and especially seeing how the team inspires the little girls who come by our pit at competition,” Logeais said.
Logeais says she got started with the team after attending a robotics camp put on by the Robettes the summer before she started high school at her mother’s suggestion.
“My mother said, ‘Hey, that looks cool,’ so I signed up. I had a lot of fun, and met some girls who are some of my best friends today.”
Both of Logeais’ parents, Wade and Candace, now serve as mentors to the team.
The 27-woman Robettes team spent months designing, building and programming Gracie the robot (named for early computer pioneer Grace Hopper) to respond to commands from a controller operated by a human “driver,” withstand collisions from defending robots and shoot exercise balls into a goal thatís 10 feet off the ground.
Logeais is part of the “mechanical” subteam that focused on designing and building Gracie.
As for where she might end up sending that letter of recommendation in the coming months as college application season begins, Logeais says she’s planning on majoring in mechanical engineering and has begun looking into technical schools like Michigan Technological University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, among others including the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, which Azar will be attending next school year.
For more information about The Robettes, visit www.therobettes.com .
Johanna Holub can be reached at email@example.com  or 651-748-7813. Follow her on Twitter @ jholubnews.