“In sociology, there is a term called ‘the third place,’” said Abi Li ’20 at the recent robotics anniversary celebration at SCH. “It is the place that is not the home or the workplace; it’s a third place that you can automatically go where you can wind down, make friends, do interesting stuff, and just be yourself. Throughout high school, 1218 became my ‘third place.’ Looking back, I was extremely lucky to have found such a space, such a group of people, and such an activity.”
Like Li, many robotics program alumni are grateful for both the STEM and life lessons they learned during their time at SCH, and dozens returned to this corner of Philadelphia to celebrate current students, their former faculty, mentors, parents, and fellow alumni at the special 20th celebration held last month.
In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Awards that were presented to Peter Randall ‘69, P’16, P’18 co-founder and chair of the department, and Rob Ervin H’08, P’10, P’13, co-founder and teacher (click here for more), Alumni Achievement Awards were presented at the ceremony to celebrate “those who have soared in their careers in the fields of STEM and robotics education, leaving a positive impact on the industry and society as a whole.” These awards were presented to Chesley Roebuck ’06 and Charlie Frank ’09.
Roebuck is the founder and executive director of Emerging Leaders in Technology and Engineering, Inc. (ELiTE), a community-based youth development organization that utilizes STEM education to empower students from underserved communities and facilitates intensive programs to provide hands-on learning in computer science and engineering for students in New York City and Ghana, West Africa. He is “the poster child for the ‘Play it Forward’ movement,” said Melissa Brown, director of Alumni Relations. “Chelsey's numerous awards and recognitions include being named by Forbes Magazine as one of ‘30 Under 30 in Education’ in 2016 and honored alongside President Barack Obama as the recipient of the Evelyn Kamen Rising Star Award in 2017.” Roebuck is also a speaking ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and serves on the board of directors or advisory board for a number of social impact organizations.
Frank, who attended the celebration virtually, is “one of those incredible students who knew where he was headed from a very young age,” according to Peter Randall, chair of the Robotics and Engineering Department at SCH. After earning a degree in chemistry from Colby College, where he also volunteered as an EMT, he earned his medical degree from Emory University. He continued his residency at Emory in general surgery and is now a clinical surgeon. He also moonlights as a medical advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response, and is a perpetual student, now pursuing his MBA at Emory in strategy and healthcare management.
In addition, Scott Rankin P’11, P’12, P’14 who, according to Randall was “one of the first members of the SCH family to completely ‘get it,’” was honored with the Service to Robotics Award, and Special Contribution Awards were presented to Jono Frank ‘69, P’98, P’00, P’09, Lisa Gemmill H’07, P’99, Dick Hayne P’08, P’11, Jim Huffaker, Charles B. Landreth ‘66, P’95, P’96, James Martin ‘99, Gordon McLennen, Ben Ng P’12, Karen Pedano, Donna Schapiro P’22, and David Sheffield P’02, P’06.
Congratulations to our award winners and thanks to our many robotics alumni and families who have helped to shape the program into what it is today: a spectacular “third place” for more than 150 students a year!
Visit our robotics anniversary page for more.