Carnegie Mellon University
April 01, 2015

Pittsburgh’s Girls of Steel Win Chairman’s Award In Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition

CMU-sponsored Team Qualifies for Fifth Consecutive Trip to Championship

By Byron Spice / 412-268-9068 /

The Girls of Steel, a team of teen-aged girls from the Pittsburgh area, won the Chairman’s Award at the Buckeye Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) in Cleveland March 28, qualifying the team for its fifth consecutive trip to the FRC Championship, April 22-25, in St. Louis, Mo.

Girls of SteelThe Chairman’s Award is the highest regional award that the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organization bestows on a team, recognizing the team that best represents a model for others to emulate and that best embodies FIRST’s goal of inspiring young people to be science and technology leaders.

“Their team is strong and growing – both as competitors and as leaders spreading the mission and vision of FIRST in the community,” the judges said in their citation. Specifically, the team has established a Rookie FIRSTs microblog,, which offers tips for newer FRC teams. The team also has established a partnership with emerging FRC teams in China.

“An all-girls team that knows no bounds, this team has flexed their mighty biceps, and even served to inspire the two female tech characters in the recently released (Disney Animation Studios) film, Big Hero 6,” the judges observed.

The Girls of Steel include about 50 girls in grades 8-12 from more than 20 Pittsburgh-area middle and high schools, as well as home-schooled students. The team is sponsored by the Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University, where graduate students, faculty and staff members provide advice and support.

For this year’s FRC, the team created a robot called Ada — named for Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician considered the first computer programmer — to compete in Recycle Rush, the recycling-themed game featured in the FRC this year. In the game, two three-robot alliances compete to stack totes and then cap them with recycling containers.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen more than 20 years ago in Manchester, N.H., FIRST has grown to reach more than 400,000 young people this year and will award more than $20 million in scholarships.