Global Citizens: Dakota Chang ’23 Pursues Robotics in her First Year at Andover


Dakota Chang ’23 has always liked to code and build, but it was Andover that sparked her interest in robotics. Now a part of the VEX Robotics team, Chang has continued to explore robotics and other hobbies during her first year at Andover.

A native of both Hong Kong and Canada, Chang believes that her exposure to the character of both cultures and ethnicities has helped create a sense of balance in her everyday life.

“Hong Kong is really efficient and it’s high-stress all the time… But then in Canada, we’re super chill and people go camping and there are no tall buildings. We love the natural environment and we just try to enjoy life. So I feel like I have the best of both sides—trying to be efficient but also managing stress,” said Chang.

Chang feels that the combination of urban and natural settings, along with the experience of living in two different climates and time zones, has helped her adjust to life at Andover.

“Andover is super different from Hong Kong and its city life, but when it comes to stress levels it’s kind of the same. Hong Kong and Canada are both very diverse places and Andover is a lot like that… I don’t really care about the cold and I adjust pretty quickly to weather and time zones, because of the commute between Hong Kong and Canada,” said Chang.

Interested in the fields of STEM and business, Chang found Andover in the hopes of finding a school to better transition from high school to university.

Chang said, “I was trying to study science and business and I thought that, maybe, America was better for that. I thought that moving from public school in Hong Kong to university in America would have been pretty hard, so I decided, ‘Why not just go to boarding school?’ and looked it up online and Andover just popped up.”

While at Andover, Chang has visited the MakerSpace numerous times for various projects. For example, when her mother refused to buy her a penny board, Chang built one in the MakerSpace.

“My mom said [a penny board] was expensive, useless, and came with a whole bunch of safety hazards. So I just made one. [The Nest was very useful] and you can use the wood, the Laser Cutter. They also buy you [tools] like the trunks,” said Chang.

Along with spending time in the Makerspace, Chang now participates in the VEX Robotics Club as both a club and sport. In the club’s current project, Chang is involved in building the “intake” function, a mechanism of the robot that can be used to grab objects.

CC Song ’21, Co-President of VEX Robotics, remarked on Chang’s technical talent, curiosity, and tenacity as a relatively new member of the club.

“Even though she is new to robotics, Dakota is constantly curious about how pieces and techniques work, and has the special talent of being the best at hand-sawing at VEX, which probably stems from her incredible athletic abilities,” said Song.

Song continued, “In just the three or four months she’s been participating in robotics, Dakota has clearly learned a lot and become a valuable member of the team. [She’s] always ready to learn more or ask another question.”

Milena Harned ’23, a close friend of Chang’s, first met her while on the bus for the Coding Circle Community Engagement. In particular, she appreciates Chang’s qualities as a listener.

“I really like how nice she is and how open she is to listening to what I have to say… She is a really great listener, always there for me and always observant and listening,” said Harned.