“Instead of him following in our footsteps, we followed in his.”
That’s been the guiding force for Abha Bosworth, a 2023 Onshape Educator Awards winner, who has spent the last 5 years as a FIRST Robotics coach. With the urging of her son, Bosworth founded the team in their garage and, despite having no previous engineering experience, was able to cultivate a team that has made a lasting impact both locally and globally.
An Unlikely Beginning: From Biology to Robotics
As an undergraduate biology major at the University of California, San Diego, Bosworth developed an early penchant for patient care and one-on-one interactions. This led to a master's at San Diego State University, where she studied Public Health and Epidemiology, followed by a master's in Physician Assistant Studies.
Yet, unlike herself and her husband Tom, an attorney, Bosworth’s son began expressing an interest in software engineering and programming in middle school. Despite having no engineering experience, Bosworth recognized her son’s enthrallment and sought opportunities to introduce him to robotics. In 2016, when he was in 7th grade, they discovered the FIRST LEGO League Challenge, a program designed to immerse participants in robotics.
A year later, her son joined FIRST Tech Challenge, in which students build and program robots for various challenges each year. Bosworth and her son developed an increased understanding of FIRST programs and robotics throughout both programs. Soon after, before his first year of high school, he proposed forming and leading a community-based FIRST Tech Challenge Team.
“It was intimidating for me because my husband and I were going to be the adult support, but neither of us are in the engineering field,” Bosworth said. “But we realized, what do children need? They need space, support, a safe environment, and just room to learn and grow.”
Bosworth also recognized that, with limited technical help from outside their team, Team 16884, her son and his teammates had a unique advantage; there were no experts available to provide a quick solution. The teamwork that grew from troubleshooting and problem-solving on their own made for exciting learning opportunities that strengthened their self-confidence.