This month, we’re highlighting some of the people who helped inspire the PLAYMAKERSSM and RePLAYSM season #IRL. Check out all of their stories in the Career Connections sections of our season guides!

Meet Leanne Cushing, a FIRST® alum and mechanical engineer that works at Bellwether Coffee. Leanne was on a FIRST® Robotics Competition team in high school, and with the help of her mentors, learned that mechanical design was her passion.

Leanne is still building robots today with her BattleBots team, Valkyrie. You may have even seen her on TV as the team designs, builds, and competes with their 250-pound robot on the Discovery Channel!

Leanne’s STEM superhero is Bill Nye, and she admires his love of entertaining combined with his love of engineering and teaching. Bill showed Leanne that she could be entertaining, social, and brainy. He inspired a lot of her curiosity and taught her so much from a young age.

Leanne’s advice to teams? “Passion isn’t perfection. Be your own favorite version of yourself; don’t let other people tell you who to be or what you can or cannot do. Don’t talk yourself out of trying something new. Worst case, you have a new opinion or story to share”.