MSA student engineers literary, robotics interests

Published 5:30 pm Monday, May 17, 2010

It’s not everyone who gets to be on a team that builds a robotthat plays soccer, but Mary Pollitz is.

In addition to that, out of 400 entries, the team from PicayuneMemorial High School and Pearl River Central High School placed inthe top six teams in the world with their bionic soccer star in theFIRST Robotics National Competition in Atlanta, Ga.

Pollitz, who is now a student at Mississippi School of the Arts,is still able to be active with the robotics team because hermother is a sponsor. She said her older brothers were roboticsenthusiasts before her.

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“When I was in about fourth grade, I fell in love with it,” shesaid. “I got involved with the robotics team in eighth grade.”

Pollitz said she has, through the years, worked on differentpieces of the robots, such as building the chassis or doing some ofthe basic programming.

A literary student at MSA, Pollitz said one of her primaryduties is to write grants and do public relations-type projects forthe team. Meanwhile, at MSA, she’s getting plenty of writing in aswell, including a recent career day project on being a “literaryconstruction worker,” during which she wore her father’s tool belt,full of pencils, pens and books.

She said her writing skills have helped out with the roboticsteam because in all the things she’s had to write for them, it’staken that certain skill of persuasion.

“You learn what people want to hear,” she said. “You have tospeak to what people are looking for.”

And the fun of being part of a robotics team definitely hit itspinnacle with the excellent showing at the FIRST competition, butthere has been all kinds of excitement through the years.

“We had a candy-shooting robot one year,” she said. “It wouldshoot candy and T-shirts into the stands at games. We often usedifferent robots at different events.”

Meanwhile, Pollitz has had to figure out how to juggle schooland robotics work from afar. It hasn’t been a problem yet, shesaid.

“I’ve worked on it a lot here, and I’ve worked on the websitefrom here as well,” she said.

And the 17-year-old said that day in Atlanta is something thatwill stick with her for a long time.

“To win a medal at the national competition, it took a lot toreally take that in,” she said. “It was an awesome experience.”

Pollitz said she hopes to be an English teacher one day, and islooking at Mississippi University for Women or Spring Hill Collegefor her higher education.