Last year, Miami Palmetto High School senior Daniel Rodriguez set up the groundwork to create a Robotics Club at school. The club couldn’t start then because the needed equipment didn’t arrive on time. But now the equipment is in place and the club is moving forward.
“We’re focusing on the Vex Robotics competitions,” he says. “This year it’s the Vex tower competitions.”
The club is going to focus on how to teach its members how robots work.
“I’ve always found that very exciting and very engaging,” he says.
He says he’s always had an interest in building things. With the Robotics Club, he’ll be able to apply problem solving skills.
“You have to build it and you have to code it” he says.
Last summer he interned at a civil engineering firm. This summer, he attended the Cornell Engineering Experience program. The six-week seminar included a Coding for Python course as well as an engineering class.
“I learned that I don’t want to code,” he says. “It reassured me that engineering is something that I want to do.”
This fall, Rodriguez is applying to Georgia Tech, Cornell, the University of Florida, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon. He plans to major in engineering, possibly mechanical or electrical.
Last year, before the end of school, Rodriguez met with administrators at the Florida Baptist Children’s Home to clear the way for his community service project, called Kid’s Day Out. Rodriguez and his friends would fund field trips for the children in the home.
“I wanted to do a community service project for a while,” he says. “A service project that could make a difference and could be fun and unique. The idea was to do one each month.”
The residents of the home went on field trips to ZooMiami and Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park.
Rodriguez and his friends also took the kids to a near-by park to play kick-ball.
“We just bought them food and snack. It was the one we had the most fun with,” he says.
One of the reasons he chose to partner with a foster home is because foster children don’t have easy lives.
“The kids, they live a pretty tough life compared to other people,” he says. “Normal foster homes don’t have funding for field trips. We wanted to fill in that gap.”
Rodriguez also volunteers as a tutor for kids at Pinecrest Elementary through the Bridge to English program. The teens work with ESOL students who need help in learning English.
“We can help as mediators,” he says. “We can help them absorb the knowledge in English.”
Weekend he volunteers at his church, working with the younger kids. He’s been volunteering since his freshman year.
At Palmetto he’s a member of the Science National Honor Society and has participated in several competitions, including Envirothon, the Lexus Eco Challenge, the Astronaut Challenge and the Dream in Green competition hosted by Florida International University.
The Dream in Green Challenge required teams to imagine a way to revitalize a part of the city to make it eco-friendlier. His team chose the area around the Coral Reef Library and the Pineland Reserve.
“We focused on creating a public transportation system with solar powered golf carts,” he says.
The concept included adding murals and paintings in the area.
“We got second place and we were told we had the most unique concept,” he says.
He’s also in the Social Science Honor Society and the History Bowl team. The team did well in districts and went to the national competition in Washington, D.C.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld