The Marines are a gung ho – wildly enthusiastic and zealous – about the future. So, too, is another team: The Zebracorns.

Amid the doom and gloom about a possible jobless future due to technology automation and robotics, this team of North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics along with two home schoolers remain excited about the future.

The Skinny had the great fortune to meet this impressive group of emerging robotics experts at the Institute for Emerging Issues Forum “Future Work” on Monday. From zebra-striped pants to infectious smiles to a killer robot they have designed and demo-ed for all who wanted to see at the Raleigh Civic Center, these impressive young people left me inspired.

So I approached them with an idea: Tell me why you are excited about the future in your own words and WRAL TechWire will publish them.

Read, and be impressed.

Yes, there is hope for the future.

  • Drew Cada (Freshman, Home school):

“I am excited about my future because I feel as though I can learn enough programming and engineering (which are still developing fields) that I can get a good job. I really enjoy both of them as well! This is in spite of the fact that robots will replace many jobs, because there are many jobs humans do which are not replaceable by robots.

“Other people should be excited about their own future because the field of science is amazing!

“What I mean by this is for example the “Amazon echo” receives voice commands and executes actions based upon those commands. This technology could be programmed to do very neat things such as realizing that it is raining without you asking it what the weather is and reminding you to grab an umbrella.

“This is just one example using one piece of technology, there are many many more!”

  • Morgan Pyrtle (Senior, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics):

“I am excited for my future as an engineer because I will be developing technologies to better the lives of other people. I hope to work in the world of robotic prosthetics to help physically disabled individuals.

“Engineering allows us to enhance and optimize our lives, and I want to be guiding that future. Even with jobs that technology is replacing, it is constantly creating new jobs. There has to be people who design and manage these products, as well as develop new ones.

“Technology helps us be more efficient and safer. It betters our lives and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Who are the Zebracorns, AKA FRC Team 900?

From the team’s website:

FRC Team 900 was founded in 2002 at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) in Durham, NC. Based at NCSSM, the team consists of students from all over the state of North Carolina. We also open the team up to students from all over the triangle region with special recruitment efforts for students at Durham Public Schools (DPS) and homeschooled students. The team is free to join for all students. We have grown from about 15 students to over 50, and we continue to grow steadily.

We won our first regional event in 2014, and a second in 2015, along with several engineering and innovation awards. We also won the Curie sub-division at Championship. We expect that trend to continue as the students continue to innovate beyond our wildest dreams.

Our Zebracorn mascot, though a bit ridiculous, has a significant meaning. Our lab resides in a boarding school in Durham, The NC School of Science and Math, whose mascot is a unicorn; however, our team is made of students from various area schools and home-school students. To represent this diversity, we added stripes to the original unicorn mascot and created the Zebracorn.

“Other people should be excited about their futures because technology cannot replace everything. A lot of the soft skills necessary in the workforce cannot be automated, especially with the value of human interactions. Technology cannot replace that and can also enhance our experiences elsewhere.

“It will make our lives more efficient and can be used as a tool to help us improve. It is connecting people worldwide and making information more accessible, allowing us to learn and grow as individuals.”

Gabriela Hall (Senior, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics):

“I don’t tend to see the evolution of technology in a negative light. We have gone through a similar phenomenon before, and though things will be quite different, we can effectively assimilate ourselves with this growing technology.

“I wish to be an engineering. I also wish to be a politician. The way technology is headed, I believe I can help direct the course of its implementation towards improving our global society. Technology is a tool – it can be used for good as well as bad – we just have to make sure policies are set in place to prevent misuse of the technology.

“Others should be excited too – the general population can benefit greatly – technology is meant to aid human creativity and production after all. Developing technology to replace repetitive jobs as its benefits as well. It reduces the benefit of utilizing low wage regions. Education can be come more accessible. Newer technologies can be spread to regions that need it most.

“By creating collaboration between educators, corporations, the government, and various countries, we can ensure that technology will improve the quality of life and the environment for various peoples in our global economy.”

  • Noah Haskell (Senior, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics):

“I am excited for the future because the future will come with change.

“Through out human history, times have been marked by the tools which we have used. Each major technological revolution in history has come with increases in life expectancy and quality of life. Now we stand upon another major change.

“Autonomous systems are on the verge of completing tasks that many people rely upon for a living. Cashiers are replaced with automated checkout machines, which run on pennies of electricity instead of minimum wage. Autonomous cars roam the street, and soon taxi drivers will be replaced by autonomous vehicles with a credit card swipe. These changes sound scary, but we can see them coming.

“By investing in education, we can prepare younger generations for the changing job market. I have had an invaluable educational experience with FIRST Robotics.

“FIRST is an organization made to inspire students to enter engineering fields by giving students access to industry mentors. Each FIRST team is equivalent to a small business, and teaches skills such as project management and communication, as well as engineering.”

  • Furkan Kose (Sophomore, Home school):

“After attending the 31st emerging issues forum it may seem like the future isn’t super bright. Technology has allowed robots to take the place of previously human-held jobs and in a number of years many, many, people might be unemployed.

“However, there are several reasons why I am excited for my future and several other reasons why other people should be excited for theirs.

“Personally I really want to know what the future of the use of technology in sports will be. Already tablets have taken the place of hand-drawn game plans and plays in football.

“With all the technological advancements in just the past 5 years, ranging from the development of completely automated cars to drones doing amazon deliveries I think everyone should be extremely eager to see what the next 10 to 15 years has in store.

“One of my major interests in general is sports. Ranging from robotics, to football and basketball all sports incorporate the use of technology.

“One relatively new piece of Technology that I have seen and helped use first hand is a a type of CNC router called a shopbot. The robotics team I am on uses a shopbot to cut out pieces for a shelf or even our actual robot. Seeing the shopbot in action has made me really interested in what other types of technology will be used for robotics in the near future.

“My other two major interests, basketball and football also use technology alot. Both sports use advanced cameras and replay systems to stream games and make in game decisions. In football players use tablets to access all their plays and gameplans. Seeing how technology continues to impact these two sports is another major reason why I am excited for the future.

“There are also many reasons for why everyone in general should be excited for the future. Something that pretty much everyone uses today is cars. New automated car technology is currently being developed. If an automated taxi service is implemented anytime soon it will affect many people.

“Another major recent technological innovation is the use of drones to deliver amazon products. Since amazon is used by so many people if they transition all their deliveries to a drone-based system it will affect many people. Ordering things online may be even more cheap and quick then it is now. That is another reason why people should be excited for the future.

“:In summary, I am excited and think the future will be very bright. Seeing what sorts of new technologies revolutionize sports for the better will be very interesting. Also transportation changes because of automated cars and changes in online deliveries because of drones will most likely positively impact many people. That is why I am extremely excited for my and everyone else’s future.”

  • Marshall Massengill (Mentor, Teleflex Medical):

“Working with young people across the state on a competitive robotics challenge has provided me with insight and hope for the future. Our future is one where today’s aspiring engineers are going to create a world where automation technologies and humans interact to produce meaningful contributions to society.

“While many jobs are set to be augmented, or replaced, with automation technologies, they will still be dependent on engineers, scientists, and mathematicians to create and maintain them. We must shape the future we want to see and for me that means training students to understand these technologies and how they can utilize them to build the future.”

(Note: The Skinny thanks Noah Haskell for compiling these comments. Go Zebracorns!)