The robotastic Carter Fendley


Senior Carter Fendley working during an all-day Cyber Patriot competition (Photo by Steve Knight)

Fernanda Molina, Editor-in-Chief

Carter Fendley and GM Robotics team pose with award.
Carter Fendley (third from right) and his team at the FIRST Chesapeake District competition with the 2017 Innovation in Control Award. (Photo Courtesy of Carter Fendley)

Try to think of one activity you do for more than 300 hours every year. I bet you can’t. Luckily for you, I know Carter Fendley, who can actually recall that he spends over 300 hours a year on robotics.

Carter Fendley was born in Fairfax, Virginia and is a lifer in FCCPS. He is a well-known student at George Mason for dedicating his time and interest into CyberPatriot, mostly robotics.

However, he did not get involved into this field alone. Even though he could have been a lawyer like his parents, he has decided to go into the field of technology because of his brother. His brother Adam Fendley, who is 21 years-old, has a similar personality to Fendley and is into computers. Fendley explained that his brother is his role model since he identifies with him.

As I chatted with Carter, he explained that he always looked up to his brother and his interests. A long time ago, he wanted to be an actor since his brother was into movies and video production. Thus, he began a Youtube channel about technology and that is when Carter began to see himself as a tech guy.

He never did anything specific to get me interested in computer science. It was just the fact that he was interested in it that made me be as well. Now that we are both fairly good at computer science, we talk about entering hackathons together just for fun,” said Carter.

Carter became involved in the Robotics and Computer Science field when he began high school. He became part of robotics his sophomore year and part of CyberPatriot his junior year. Once he joined, he began to learn and know more about the technical side of different things.

Carter says that robotics is the most significant part of his life. This is not only because he dedicates so much of his time to it, but also because it has taught him to learn new skills and to work with different types of people. Additionally, his dedication has led him and his team to be Chesapeake District champions and to make it to the quarterfinals at worlds in 2016.

“Robotics… [has] given me a competition, and I am very competitive, so it gives you a goal. I was able to develop skills through trying to meet that goal and trying to win… [Robotics] also allows you to deal with certain personalities, there are certain rough or interesting personalities that just go along being in robotics and you sort of have to know how to work with them in a productive way,” said Fendley.

Even though Carter would like to be in front of a computer or another technological device constantly, his constant headaches affect his daily life. He explained to me that once while he was playing soccer he got a concussion, which has lead to him to get headaches almost everyday and has been hard to deal with.

As I continued to talk with Carter, he mentioned that his hobbies have changed him as a person in a really big way. He has met new people through time, he has learned to interact with different types of people and personalities, and his hobbies have allowed him to show that he is a knowledgeable person in what he does.

Carter Fendly works with his teammates at the Qualifying Rounds of the robotics competiton.
Carter Fendley on his computer working with his robotics teammates at the Qualifying Rounds. (Photo Courtesy of Steve Knight)

“It has definitely changed me because all of my hobbies have given me an opportunity to meet people and to see what is out there and to see what I can be doing. [They have] given me an opportunity to prove myself and prove that I’m good and build up a resume to submit to colleges,” said Carter.

Additionally, being involved in robotics and CyberPatriot has allowed him to take a leadership role in these after school activities by becoming the head programmer of robotics and by being a great help to CyberPatriot.

“For the past two years I’ve basically been in charge of the CyberPatriot club and developing checklists for them and organizing meetings. Also, I’ve been the head programmer of the robotics team and I’ve worked with a lot of people to get that done,” said Carter.

However, to take charge of these clubs, it took work. For robotics, Fendley created a project for himself in which his goal was to win the programming award. As he worked on this project his mentor noticed that he was a good programmer and taught him more skills.

He had close communication with Mr. Knight and he showed that he cared about the club by showing up everyday.

“That has been the main thing that has gotten me really involved in it. Mostly being there, being able to be given tasks and people knowing that you can complete them. I try to do that with every organization that I am a part of; I try to take the role of a leader,” said Carter.

In addition from taking much of his time to give all his best for Robotics and CyberPatriot, he has very little time to do college essays and homework. He comes to school early in the morning during robotics season and leaves when it’s late at night. The key to his success in school has been communication between his parents, teachers and himself.

“I talk to my teachers and I try to work with them… my parents have been very helpful with college essays. I haven’t done any of what I do alone. Even though my mother and father would like to see me more during the season, they are very understanding that it’s good practice for what I will be doing later on in life,” said Carter.

To Carter, his future consists of doing something that is meaningful and in which he can earn a good income. In terms of what career Fendley wants to pursue, he is unsure.

He has a wide variety of options, including the field of cyber security and robotics. He has taken part in these two clubs because they are large parts of computer science and their competitions, that fit his mindset, are motivating.

Overall, Carter is a student with high aspirations in life and works hard to accomplish them. When he is interested in something, he works hard to give his best and works to win.