Breaking Barriers

Senior Evie Putz shares her story as a transgender student and captain for the West High Robotics Team.
Evie Putz powers on her teams robot to work with their partner before a match.
Evie Putz powers on her teams robot to work with their partner before a match.
Danielle Putz

Evie Putz is a senior at West High and a Captain for the FTC 7247 and FRC 5837 robotics teams in Waterloo. In addition to her high ranking with these teams, Putz is a transgender student and an inspiration for the transgender community. 

“I initially got into robotics because my brother got interested in Lego League, an elementary school robotics program, and the next year when I was able to do it he encouraged me to,” Putz says. She shares that when she was in eighth grade, her brother encouraged her to join the high school team and that he asked for her help programming the high school robot.

Since joining the robotics community in 8th grade, Putz has grown from being the lead programmer in eighth grade, to the team’s captain for her junior and senior years.

Putz shares that her gender identity has not affected her place on the robotics teams. “As a whole, the robotics competition and community we are in has a large emphasis on being gracious and professional. This means I haven’t ever seen discrimination in the area of robotics, and I am thankful for that. Everyone I’ve met has been incredibly accepting, kind, and appreciative of the skills I provide regardless of my gender identity,” she says.

Diversity is a continuing challenge in the robotics field, but over the nine years I’ve been in it I’ve been seeing it get better. Our team has been getting better and better with diversity of all sorts, as have all the teams in the area.

— Evie Putz

As for West High, Putz shares that the environment is different everywhere she goes, “there are a lot of kids and teachers that are really good at not letting it affect anything, but also an equal amount that treat me as different and weird.” Putz shares that the biggest struggle she faces is the bathrooms at West, and the faces she gets when using them. The solution Putz has found with this is to avoid using the bathrooms when she can.

During her time in high school, Putz shares that over the past two years she has found inspiration through Jayden Johnson, West High’s IT Tech. “He has taught me a lot and made me realize I don’t need to be perfect to be an adult, and that the future isn’t as scary as I thought it was,” she says. 

Working with Putz since she was a sophomore, Johnson shares that Putz’s passion for technology will take her far in life. “With commitment and continued support I believe Evie will have great success in whichever path they choose,” he says. Johnson is confident Putz will continue to grow outside of high school, stating “I hope that Evie continues the educational momentum they currently have to keep gaining valuable knowledge and skills to reach their potential.” 

Despite paving the way for transgender and female students in the STEM field, Putz says that she does not feel she has left much of an impact on West High. “I’m not a very outspoken person,” she says, “I’ve been involved in a lot of activities and events so I’m sure I’m downplaying myself here though. I’m always surprised when people tell me how much I’ve done or impacted or improved something.” 

Though she believes she has not left a mark on the school, West High and the robotics community has left a mark on her. “I have grown in my identity and in my skills as a future software engineer. I have also realized more of who I want to be as a person and a member of society,” Putz says. 

To have a passion in a field that needs talented individuals is a gift that must continue to be cultivated.

— Jayden Johnson

As a graduating senior, Putz is prepared to leave the high school level and take on college. Planning to attend the University of Northern Iowa for computer science, Putz hopes to work for John Deere after completing her degree. “West High has prepared me for this by allowing me to join a good robotics team, and allow me to enroll in courses at the Waterloo Career Center,” she says. 

In hopes of growing the transgender inclusion within the robotics community and STEM programs, Putz shares her advice for other students, “Just go for it; It can seem really scary, but the payoff is well worth it. Most people I’ve met in STEM have been incredibly accepting and affirming, so you don’t need to worry too much.” 

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About the Contributor
Ali Parkhurst
Ali Parkhurst, News and Sports Editor; Yearbook Editor-In-Chief
(she/her) Ali Parkhurst is a senior at West High. This is her second year as a Wahawk Insider staff member, Parkhurst is also the Editor-In-Chief for the Wahawk Yearbook. Outside of school, Parkhurst is a varsity cheerleader and a server at Doughy Joeys. Parkhurst enjoys photography, running, and spending time with her friends.
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    Abby ErwinApr 12, 2024 at 5:01 pm

    That’s my girlfriend! I’m very proud of her. I see her really improving so many things she has a passion for.