When it comes to building competitive robots, Erica Smentowski is all about the power. She is in charge of the batteries, after all.
Smentowski, who's from Bradenton, Fla., talks to mom.me about how she became a 'bot fan, what makes for a good mom and how you never know what the future holds.
What inspired you to start working on badass robots?
I will be honest, I got dragged into this by my husband. He first competed in 1997, and I was on his pit crew after he built his first robot in our living room. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. I did not know that "BattleBots" would define the next 20 years of my marriage.
What are the best and most challenging parts about working with a team on a robotics project and show like "BattleBots"?
Money, time and the rules. There’s never enough money or time, and it’s hard to accomplish the design changes you want to within the weight-limit rules, especially since we have one of the physically largest robots for the 250-pound weight class. Nightmare went on a crash diet (no pun intended) before weigh-in this season.
You're showing serious #girlpower and #mompower. What do you want your kids to learn or take away from your experience?
If you would have told me when I was a kid that I’d grow up to be part of a TV show about fighting robots, I would not have believed it. I would tell kids that you have NO IDEA what your future holds, so don’t give up if it’s bleak right now. You don’t have to have it all figured out today, but be prepared so that when the time comes to apply yourself towards something amazing, you’ll be ready. Opportunities won’t be there for the kids who will not try, or who are too busy making stupid choices. Get ready for your future and look for your opportunities.
What quality makes for a good mom?
Perspective helps you get through every stage, once you understand how short each phase of childhood lasts. Knowing that, one day, they’ll be out of diapers. One day, you’ll wish they’d still want a hug, even though right now they’re clingy and you want some space. One day, they’ll remember what you said, good or bad. One day, they’ll predict how you’ll react in every situation and say, “Mom, I KNEW you’d say that!” Have perspective for the future when you react today.
What is your favorite quality in a dad?
Integrity, because it’s all-encompassing. A man with integrity will prioritize his family, be respectable in his business decisions and trustworthy when he’s out having fun. I am blessed to have a husband AND a dad who are men of integrity, and I think they are modeling integrity for our boys as well.
What trait do you hope your children inherit from you?
I have a strong work ethic, and I feel like I’m loyal to the right things. I’ve been loyal to my faith, family, work and fun, which includes being a loyal "BattleBots" fan since the beginning in 1999. When my kids find something good to contribute to, I hope they stick with it.
Perspective helps you get through every stage, once you understand how short each phase of childhood lasts.
Who is your favorite fictional hero/heroine?
The mom, Helen Parr, or Elastigirl, from "The Incredibles" movie. Every mom is Elastigirl and can relate to her managing her arguing kids at the dinner table by stretching her arms and using superpowers to do daily tasks. The scene with her in the airplane, fearing for her kids' lives and eventually having to save them with her superpowers, always makes me choke up. She is a hero and a mom.
What is your idea of misery?
Playing contact sports. I leave the crashing and smashing to the 'bots in the "BattleBots." I’m more of a “no touchy” type of person.
What is the social media platform you can't live without?
Facebook. I like to interact that way because it has the photos, videos and comments in one place. I’m an introvert, so basically I’ll be too anxious to chat with someone in person, but online I’m a social butterfly.