Originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.

Aspiring robotics engineer Mika Thompson-Brassfield believes the power of robotics could do a lot of good for a lot of people — and for her wheelchair-bound dog.

“To incorporate [robots] into everyday life, to help everyday people would be really cool,” she said. “I’m not saying robots are going to take over the world, but they could really help with veterans being able to take their lives back, by giving them robotic arms and legs. By creating robots we are putting fewer people in the line of danger.”

A 2018 graduate of Connections Homeschool, Thompson-Brassfield will be taking the first steps toward a career in robotics engineering by attending the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders.

The Congress is a program run by the national Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists. The Academy’s goal is to promote, inspire and provide youth with resources and information about careers in STEM fields.

During the event, which will take place June 29 through July 1 in Massachusettes, Thompson-Brassfield will hear from Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science recipients, get advice from universities around the world regarding STEM fields and learn about recent scientific research.

Thompson-Brassfield’s twin sister, Cierra, nominated her for the award. Cierra received the award last year and said that she figured her sister could benefit from the experience.

“It would be really cool for her,” she said. “I got a lot of helpful information out of it. It helped seeing other kids interested in doing what I was interested in doing.”

Both Cierra and Mika are pursuing higher education in the sciences. The twins will be taking their prerequisite classes at Kenai Peninsula College, with plans to take classes through University of Alaska Anchorage in the spring. Mika received a $12,000 academic scholarship from the University of Alaska system.

While thousands of students from around the country are awarded access to the Congress every year, only two students from Alaska will be attending next week. Mika said she is looking forward to meeting other students from across the country who have an interest in science and technology, maybe even robotics.

“I really want to meet other kids my age that are interested in the same things,” she said.

She also hopes to get direction from top professionals in the field of robotics.

“If I could get someone to steer me in the right direction, I don’t know what I want to do with robotics, but I’m really interested in it,” she said.

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