Profile: Community High’s Chloe Durkee is engineering her way to an impactful future

When Chloe Durkee first expressed interest in robotics she wasn’t alone – barely.

“I took a PLTW class in middle school with only two other people in it,” says Durkee. “Since the class was so small it really enabled me to ask questions and be involved in the class. I think from that point on it just made learning about it fun.”

Durkee attended Skyline her first two years before switching to Community High this year. Now a junior, robotics has become a big part of her high school experience – so much so that she decided to remain on the Skyline team this season.

“I just like how hands-on everything is and how much we get to learn,” she says.

“But it’s also really nice to get to meet so many other people that are also interested in STEM. You make a lot of good friends that way. Especially being one of a handful of girls on the team, it’s been really helpful to have older female members, both students and mentors, on the team to look up to.”

Durkee says this year’s Skyline team is “very focused” and a lot of fun to be around.

“Last year was my first year, so for me there was a lot of learning about how to do stuff,” she says. “This year a lot of my time has been spent getting to teach other students how to put together an electrical board and trying to keep everything organized.”

This year’s team has started building the proper electrical board that will go on the final robot. They also spray painted the polycarb everything goes onto, so hopefully, they will have a pretty cool color scheme (dark blue).

Durkee is the “lead electrical” on this year’s Skyline team. Basically, she plans out what the electrical sub-team is doing at each meeting, keeps the shelf organized and helps people learn how to put together the board – among other duties and responsibilities.

“Since it’s only my second year on the team, it was kind of difficult at first to remember all of the different parts we have to put together, like which wires go where, but we’re about to build our third board this year, so it’s gotten a lot better,” says Durkee, who was a new member on the electrical sub-team last year.

While the team is focused, there is plenty of opportunity for learning, and of course, fun.

“During build season, we’re all together pretty much four to five days a week for three-plus hours a day, so we all go a little loopy,” she says. “There’s a lot of inside jokes and craziness that happens. One thing we all go crazy for is stickers. Especially these little star stickers that someone on the team has. We put them everywhere. A bunch of our personal computers are covered in them. It adds a little bit of fun to the workspace.”

Durkee says the main team goal is just for members to learn about what they’re doing. “The more we learn about the build process the better we can improve our team for future years,” she says.

Durkee, the daughter of Natalie DePasquale, is also an excellent student with a 3.88 grade-point average. And she has been keeping very busy, taking full advantage of everything high school has to offer. She is a member of the Skyline equestrian team, Feminist Club, Fashion Club and Poetry Club.

Last year, she took AP Environmental Science and loved it.

I think I want to major in something like Environmental Engineering,” she says. “Robotics reminds me of how diverse the engineering fields are, and that there’s a lot of different types of people you’ll meet in the field. Our team has gotten a lot better about it, but there’s definitely a big stigma against women in engineering and you run into it throughout the season. That’s why it’s so nice to have those older female members on the team, because they also know what it’s like and they are not only willing, but want to help you get through those dilemmas.