LIVINGSTON, NJ — The nationally recognized all-girls robotics team Exit 5 Robotics received commendations from the Livingston mayor and council on Monday for its many success over the last eight years, including qualifying for national and international competitions for seven-consecutive seasons, winning nearly 30 awards and becoming the first New Jersey team, boys or girls, to win three-consecutive FIRST Lego League (FLL) Champion’s Awards among many other accomplishments.

“I’m almost ashamed to be up here with the kids because you’d be shocked at how little we do as the coaches,” said team coach Bill Lam, who joked that his most important jobs include opening the doors, ordering supplies and driving the girls to competitions. “The world is really moving at a rapid pace right now—times are changing fast and the women’s team is really awesome because it’s my strong belief that women need to be in the wheelhouse of the ship that’s moving along and I look forward to the women as they find a place there and help steer us in the right direction.”

Team captain Tiffany Yu, a five-year member of Exit 5 Robotics, said the team was already successful when she joined, but that she joined because there was a “really strong sense of kinship and family” and wanted to be a part of that.

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“Fast-forward five years later, now in Livingston you see so many robotics teams and robotics has really taken off,” said Yu. “I’m really excited to be a part of this amazing group of people. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of skills—how to build a robot, how to program a robot, how to stay up all night so the robots are ready for the next day—but the most important thing I’ve learned is how to be able to work with a really wonderful, great group of people and how to form a sense of kinship and sisterhood. I think that ability to work together will really take us far in whatever we choose to pursue.”

Yu added that thanks to all of the team’s accomplishments, the girls of Exit 5 were proud to feel a sense of belonging at all competitions despite robotics being a male-dominated program.

Exit 5 Robotics originally formed in 2010 with five Livingston girls who aspired to provide opportunities for girls to get hands-on experience building and programming robots, rather than joining a mixed-gender program. At the time, only five out of 180 teams in New Jersey were made up of all girls. Today, there are more than 20 all-girls teams competing and winning.

In 2017, Exit 5 Robotics is nationally recognized, coming up between No. 2 and No. 4 nationwide in Google searches for “girls’ robotics teams” or “all-girls robotics.”

Over the last eight years, Exit 5 has entered 11 different robotics competitions, involving more than 50 qualification events and winning 27 awards along the way. The team has also qualified and competed in nine national and international tournaments, winning three awards and one honorable mention.

Additionally, the team was the United States National Champion in the 2015 World Robot Olympiad and in 2012 was the first all-girls team to win a Champion’s Award in New Jersey FIRST Lego League, covering a span of 13 years and more than 1500 teams.

According to Lam, the team was the first team, boys or girls, in the state to win three-consecutive FLL Champion’s Awards, recognizing the best teams in the competition and also meriting advancement into national/international finals competitions. Team members Chloe Lam, Alice Huang, Evelyn Huang, Stephanie Tam, and Flora Xia are the first and only people to be three-time Champions Award Winners in the history of NJ FLL.

Exit 5 Robotics is currently recruiting for the 2017-2018 season with two spots open for 9th-to 12th-grade girls. This includes immediate opportunities to learn CAD, programming, and robotics for both VEX and EV3. Contact Kelly Eagen at e5r@livingstonrobotics.org or Bill Lam at 917.859.7883 for more info.

Exit 5 Robotics Awards, Recognition and Publications:

  • 2016 VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) - CREATE US Open – 3rd Place 1v1 Challenge, 29th place Open Category
  • 2016 VRC NJ State Championship - Invitation
  • 2016 VRC MCASMET Qualifier – Build Award
  • 2016 VRC Sparta Qualifier - Judges Award
  • 2016 VRC Union HS Qualifier: Design Award
  • 2016 Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders Commendation
  • 2016 India World Robot Olympiad (WRO) International Championship Invitation
  • 2016 WRO US Championships - 2nd place
  • 2016 VRC CREATE US Open – Participant
  • 2016 VRC NJ State Championship – Think Award
  • 2015 VRC Monroe Qualifier – Excellence Award
  • 2015 VRC Rowan Qualifier – Design Award
  • 2015 Qatar WRO International Championship - 29th out of 85 teams
  • 2015 WRO US Championships - 1st place
  • 2014 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) RoboJoust Qualifier - Think Award
  • 2013 Featured in the October 2014 mic.com article “Meet the Teen Girls Busting the Biggest Stereotype in Science and Tech ”
  • 2014 Google Lunar XPrize Moonbots Finalist
  • 2014 FIRST Lego League (FLL) North American Open Championship: 2nd place Gracious Professionalism Award
  • 2014 FLL North American Open Championship: Research Project – Honorable Mention
  • 2013 FLL NJ State Championship: 3rd place Champions Award
  • 2013 FLL NJ State Championship: 2nd place Robot Performance
  • 2013 FLL Sparta Regional: 1st place Project Award
  • 2013 FLL Sparta Regional: 1st place Robot Performance Award
  • 2013 Published in the June 2013 edition of the IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine, “Exit is the Way In”
  • 2013 FLL North American Open Championship: 2nd place Gracious Professionalism Award
  • 2012 FLL NJ State Championship: 2nd place Champions Award
  • 2012 FLL Hillsborough Regional: 1st place Champions Award, 2nd Place Robot Performance
  • 2012 FLL World Invitational Open - 17th place finish out of 61 teams
  • 2011 FLL NJ State Championship: 2nd place Champions Award
  • 2011 FLL Liberty Science Center Regional: 1st place Champions Award
  • 2011 FLL Liberty Science Center Regional: 1st place Robot Performance
  • 2010 FLL NJ State Championship: Judges Award
  • 2010 FLL NJ State Championship: 3rd place Robot Performance
  • 2010 FLL Bergen Regional: 1st place Robot Performance