Madison Kenney, at the young age of 14, is already making significant strides in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
With a passion for both robotics and female inclusion, Kenney is determined to knock down doors for herself and young girls like her who are passionate about science.
Kenney’s interest in robotics began when she was 8 years old.
“I went to a Girl Scouts women’s expo,” she said. “I got the chance to program these little [mechanical] alligators to open and close their mouths at a table kiosk for the Georgia Institute of Technology. I did not want to leave! I told my mom that this is what I wanted to do.”
She added, “From there, it went from me taking classes at Georgia Tech every weekend, to robotics, to now.”
Kenney’s passion for robotics and engineering has resulted in her winning several awards, including the 2018 National Honorable Mention from the National Center for Women, the Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing and the Youth Service American Everyday Hero Award.
The Georgia Connections Academy student has earned a prestigious reputation as a result of her work with robotics. As the new competitive robotics coach for her female peers at the Andres and Walter Young YMCA, she instructs 15 elementary school students whom, as she “have a want…and a love to learn.”
“(The YMCA) didn’t have a program in place,” explained Bisa Kenney, Madison’s mother. “And they were happy that Madison offered. Madison wrote a grant a year before and coached two Girl Scouts teams the previous year, and that went so great.
“But most of the girls she helped lived in an area that already had STEM, and we wanted to reach an area that did not have it. That is what lead us to YMCA.”
Madison said she feels it is her purpose to combat gender stereotypes in STEM programs. In 2018, there are fewer female students interested in STEM than interested male students.
“It definitely comes down to gender stereotypes,” Madison said. “Because in society, it’s been…embedded into our brains that [STEM] is a male [field]…It’s really just about breaking that gender stereotype.”
Madison’s message for young girls who hope to follow in her footsteps is, “just go for it. If someone says you can’t, just prove them wrong.”
In receiving so many awards for her work, Madison says, “It felt good…because I was being recognized for the work I have done for all those other girls, and I just want to continue doing it!”
Even with her many accomplishments, Madison remains humble and thankful for her mother’s continuous support. “[She’s] a great mom.”
Madison Kenney has committed to become an mechatronics engineer, which combines computer science, mechanical and electrical engineering. She said, “The best [outcome of] getting my mechatronics engineering degree is working for NASA”.
By creating her own path, as well as creating a path for others, Madison is off to an electrifying start. And she said she plans to manifest an extraordinary finish.