MARYSVILLE — Madyson Yetter is the screwdriver-wielding senior who manages the robotics team at Marysville Arts &Technology High School.
As a shy freshman, she set an example by being one of a few girls to take on building robots. Now, Yetter, 18, is leading the team, which has more than doubled in size and boasts an almost even split of guys and girls.
Question: How’d you get into robotics?
Answer: In third grade, I joined the First Lego League in Everett. When I moved to Marysville in seventh grade, I was excited that Cedarcrest Middle School had a robotics team. But it was all these big, macho eighth-grade guys. There was only one other girl on the team so I was super shy.
Q: Why’d you stick with it in high school?
A: I went to a camp during the summer before my freshman year. Ms. (Katherine) Jordan came up to me and said “you’re the overachiever.” I blushed and turned bright red. But I knew my stuff so I figured I’d give it a shot. I went to see the team showing off robotics beyond middle school and I was hooked.
Q: What caught your interest?
A: I saw this big robot shooting basketballs. It was blinking and moving as they steered with a joystick. It was so cool, I wanted to do it.
Q: How have you changed since you became team manager as a sophomore?
A: I’ve took on so much more than just building. I had to learn to speak without being too assertive. As an adviser, I provide hints so the team can figure out problems on their own. I don’t want my freshmen watching me do it.
Q: How did you handle students who were intimidated by certain jobs?
A: We had a lot of girls who did not want to work on the robot. I handed them a wrench and encouraged them to try anyway. Robotics isn’t all computers and numbers on a screen. It’s something you have to experience. When you go to competitions with hundreds of teams packed into one gym, you see the joy it brings.
Q: What are some of the team accomplishments you’re most proud of?
A: During my freshman year, eight kids managed to build a robot that was fully functional and wowed the competition judges by being the only one that could right itself when it went wrong. The next year, we were the first to use carbon fiber and built the lightest robot. We’ve also struggled being small and not having enough sponsors. When we couldn’t afford t-shirts, we ironed patches on our own. They looked terrible but at competition it didn’t matter. I was so proud of my team.
Q: What else do you like to do?
A: I paint. I love reading, anything but especially history books and Holocaust stories. I work at Lane Bryant at the outlet mall. I’m also getting ready to be a teaching assistant for chemistry.
Q: How’s school?
A: I spend half the day doing the culinary arts program at Sno-Isle TECH in Everett. It’s phenomenal. You feel like you’re about to see chef Gordon Ramsay come around the corner. Honestly, my favorite spot is the dish pit because you get to eat whatever comes back, plus you get first dibs on leftovers.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I’m going back and forth between Evergreen State College in Olympia and DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond. I’m going to finish my prerequisites at Everett Community College so that’ll buy me some time.
Q: What are your goals for after college?
A: I’m torn between art and science. Science thrills me but I’ve always been an artist. I’m thinking of combining the two, maybe doing forensic drawings at crime scenes. Someday, I want to have a family and settle down, maybe get a weiner dog. I don’t think I could ever leave Washington. I’d miss the rain too much.
Q: Do you plan to come back and help coach the robotics team?
A: Oh definitely, they won’t be able to get rid of me. I appreciate my teachers who brought me through robotics. I’m not too shy to speak up and do something now.Passing the screwdriver to the next team is the best feeling in the world.