TERRELL, Texas — When Jakobe Garrett walked into his first robotics competition as a Furlough Middle School eighth grade student, he said he felt like he stuck out like a sore thumb. Known for his size and talent on the football field, Garrett knew he did not fit the typical mold for what a robotics and engineering student might look like.

Now, entering his senior year at Terrell High School, Garrett is one of the top robotics students at Terrell ISD and has his sights set on a future in the robotics field either as a teacher or an engineer.

Garrett was first introduced to the world of robotics in eighth grade at Furlough Middle School in Marcus Edwards’ class. While he admits he did not know what to expect, he was surprised at not only how much he enjoyed it, but how naturally it came to him.

“I did not know I was capable of doing these kinds of things,” shared Garrett. “I remember building a robot in just a couple of days and my classmates asking how I was able to do it. I told them I have no clue, it just made sense to me and I did it.”

Years later, Garrett has all but perfected his craft and has taken it upon himself to pay it forward by raising up the future generation of Terrell Tiger engineers and robotics students. With the school closures due to COVID-19, Garrett saw an opportunity to share his experience and knowledge with young elementary students in his apartment complex who he knew may otherwise never have the exposure to robotics.

“Some of these kids are not able to be at school, do virtual learning, or have the experience of building,” said Garrett. “I took it upon myself to grab some rockets and take them to my apartment, and these kids are very excited to see it. I did not have anything like this when I was as kid.”

Garrett, who is also a center and nose tackle for the Terrell Tigers football team says that while he is not ruling out playing football in college, he would only consider a school with a robotics or engineering program. Both Garrett’s football coach and robotics teacher have been incredibly supportive and encouraging of his goals and aspirations.

“I know it is hard for the team for me to be gone from workouts when I come to robotics,” said Garrett. “Coach Sedberry is so supportive and understands that robotics is an important part of my future.”

Marcus Edwards, Terrell High School Robotics and Engineering teacher, recognizes that Garrett has learned to balance himself between his physical training on the football field and his mental training in the robotics lab and applauds him for his ability to do both with excellence.

“Jakobe has figured out how to balance his interests to make the biggest impact with the people he is surrounded by,” said Edwards. “From the time I met Jakobe until now, he has carried stuff home from the lab to share with the kids in his apartment and that is a big deal; it is what we are all about.”

While there is once again uncertainty about what the upcoming school year will look like, Garrett is optimistic and looks forward to another season of robotics, performing more experiments with his students, and working towards his future in engineering and robotics.

“This is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” shared Garrett. “Robotics changed my whole life.”