[ambient music] [soft electronic music] - [Shelly] Throughout my whole life, I was taught that I could do what I wanted but you know, I knew I had to get from point A to point B but I didn't know how to get there.
I know I shouldn't let my disability limit me, but how?
My art was just a way to get me to step out of my comfort zone in a way.
That's when I discovered that that's what I wanted to do with my life, I wanted to be an artist.
- [Wendy] I love to build robots.
I've been building robots ever since I was a fifth grader.
That's when I first started programming.
I rarely have days where I don't think about like a motor or like a sprocket system.
I just think about robots all the time.
The reason why I make things is so that I can see somebody else smile.
When I made the dice-rolling machine, I felt like I was doing my purpose.
- I lost horribly and then I started practicing with her a few times and then after like one or two times I was winning, she was like, "Wait a minute."
- I was fine like the first two times that we played and she beat me but after that, I was just like "No, no, I have to win now.
This is so embarrassing."
- The tables have turned.
I just love spending time with Wendy 'cause like every time that I'm with her, I just feel like I'm in a very judge-free zone.
Like we'll be talking on the phone and she's like, "I know exactly what you're thinking about."
- I can like rant to her about like things that like bother me or things that I want to get out of my head and she understands what I mean.
It's like a battery that's getting recharged almost.
- [Shelly] Or synchronized.
[soft ensemble electronic music] [Rosa speaking Spanish] - [Shelly] In elementary school, that was kind of like the time when things started getting ugly in Juarez.
My dad, he was a businessman, you know?
And so bad people found out about that and Juarez just wasn't a safe place for him anymore.
So he moved.
The only ones that were left were my mom and my siblings.
It's just kind of been us.
[Rosa speaking Spanish] [Shelly laughs] [Rosa and Shelly speaking Spanish] [relaxed chiming electronic music] - Bye.
[bus beeps] - [Wendy] I had to grow up really quickly.
My dad was very machista.
There was a lot of times where my dad was physically abusing not just me but like my sister and my mom.
When that happened to me, I saw it as a challenge.
We teamed up and we decided to send him away.
[Wendy speaking Spanish] - Female Hispanics is one of the lowest minority groups in the field of engineering and science.
I first met Wendy as a middle-school student.
She had so many projects going on at one time, I created an entire corner dedicated to her where she can leave her projects.
Then it came to the point where she found an empty room on the campus and she created her own workspace, something that I've never seen any student do before.
She actually outgrew this place.
[male student chatters] - [Wendy] Engineering is all about solving problems.
My goal in life is to make some kind of impact.
There's people who are suffering and I need to do my part to help other people.
[Rosa and Shelly speaking Spanish] - The other day for school, we were invited to a portfolio day.
When I was getting critiqued by one of the professors, he was telling me that my art is very nice but it's also very happy and I should talk about my disability through my art.
I remember he was like "Draw your hands, dry your hands."
I was like "Okay."
[laughs] I'm trying to make the colors of the chair like less saturated and then I'm gonna try to make myself and my body like more vibrant with the colors.
Because I just want to show that it is a part of me but it doesn't mean that it defines me, you know?
- Ready to make Shelly into a cyborg.
[laughs] Essentially this is a prosthetic enhancement that is not gonna be attached to her, it's gonna be attached to the wheelchair and she's most familiar with joysticks, so I want her to control it with joysticks.
This is her armrest and then it's gonna slide out.
This was from prototype number two.
This is like, I didn't have any money, so I just got literally anything.
Like the back, it's not even screws.
I used like wire.
She told me that the number one joystick felt kind of uncomfortable because it was kind of far away.
Like you would have to kind of reach like that.
[upbeat video game style electronic music] The near slide's one-eighth aluminum rod, one-fourth aluminum rod, one-sixteenth aluminum rod, plastic tubing for the coil, solder.
I'm really excited about this project.
The thing that keeps me moving is just like she's gonna be able to hold that paint, she's gonna be able to hold that paint.
[register beeping] Engineering is all about innovation.
You're supposed to think of new ways of doing things.
But what matters to me is getting it done for Shelly, you know?
What I care about is if this is functional and she can use it next year.
[saw buzzing] - [Shelly] I'm just really excited because one day, I'll just be able to grab that bottle of paint over there and I feel like it's gonna be more independence for me.
- I feel like we speak about Shelly's future as if it's like years away and I'm pushing her to leave.
I just think it's gonna help her grow a lot more as a person, as an individual, as an artist.
- [Shelly] I don't think I want to stay in El Paso but as soon as I finish college, I want to come back and maybe I'll be setting up my own gallery for my art.
- Is this blue topaz?
- [Wendy] Hey.
- [Shelly] Hey man, what up?
- [Wendy] What up, how was physics?
- [Shelly] Death.
- Dude honestly, same.
- [Shelly] Yo, can I call you in like an hour?
- [Wendy] Yeah sure, you busy?
- [Shelly] Or like tomorrow maybe?
- [Wendy] It's all good, dude.
- [Shelly] Cool beans, bye.
We don't talk as much anymore but that's just because she has stuff to do and I have stuff to do and it just happens, you know?
But I'm still gonna continue and build and she's still gonna continue and draw.
So the motor moves this axle, right?
And this axle is connected to this chain and sprocket, which will then move another piece of the arm that I haven't printed yet and then this one will have another thing.
So this one will move like this and then it'll have another one that moves like this, like this.
I have the base done and the Makerspace is printing out the other pieces that I need.
I'll put the cover over the bottom, right?
And then there'll be a Lazy-Susan on it.
So it'll swivel on her wheelchair so she can pull it out whenever she wants and if she wants to get out of her chair for example, she can just push it back in.
I should be prepared for Science Fair.
[anxious electronic music] - Good morning.
First, let me congratulate you.
You are the best of the best from each one of your districts.
Today, we're gonna figure out who's best of the best for our city.
- [Shelly] I'm really nervous right now.
It's very competitive.
There's a lot of really good artists that have been in art for many years.
- [Judge] Here's how its gonna work.
You are gonna be judged by two judges at one time.
So you will only give your presentation once.
Once you've been judged, those two judges will then score their sheets independently.
They will not talk with each other about how they're gonna do the scoring.
Once you've been judged twice, you cannot leave.
The only way that you can leave is when we ensure that we have both the judges' sheets from your presentation.
All right, now we're ready.
[anxious ensemble electronic music] - Come on in if you want.
- Thank you.
[people chattering] - Then she also has dexterity with her hip.
- It looks perfect.
- [Announcer] First place to win in the category of Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Wendy Sandoval.
[crowd applauds] [Rosa speaking Spanish] - All right.
So we have 25 students advancing to State.
Stefania Lopez from Monterros Agnes.
[crowd applauds] Ford Delgado.
- [Judge] I appreciate your patience and we will see you all at the end of this year soon.
Enjoy, all right, thank you.
[crowd applauds] - [Shelly] Well my first three surgeries, I was very little so I don't really remember any of them but my fourth surgery was definitely my hardest.
I just got to see like the toll that it took on my mom.
She was just very strong and she pushed through everything.
I try to imitate that and be strong for her.
[plane hums] [plane chimes] - I've heard that the body doesn't detect velocity, instead it detects acceleration.
Which is you don't feel anything when you're on the car but but when you're on a plane and you're accelerating downwards, that's why you feel the butterflies in your stomach.
[upbeat chiming electronic music] Like look at all of this.
I don't even know what these are.
They look like a whole bunch of tortillas stuck together, you know?
[audience applauds] - You are creating impact when you're thinking of someone else.
Oftentimes not the case in high school.
So what inspired you to really create for others and for Shelly?
- I just wanted to be a good friend and I even told her, I was like "I know that you can do a lot of things.
I was just curious if you wanted this."
And then she was like "Heck yeah, I want an arm."
She's a really good friend to me and in high school, I really needed that.
So I'm repaying her because essentially I'm trying to make her a present that she's gonna like.
[loudspeaker blaring] [people cheering] - [Shelly] The first time I ever go to a Comic-Con.
I usually come to these types of events where I can go sell my art.
- How much is your middle one again, the joker?
- Yes sir.
- You have five of 'em?
I like selling my art 'cause I mean it's what I want to do for a living eventually.
[customer chattering] Wendy really motivates me to do my thing and not really mind what other people think because I know who I am, so I try to push myself.
Because if I just refuse to step out of my comfort zone, I feel like it's just gonna be very limiting and I'm not really gonna grow.
[relaxed electronic music] - I feel happy that I'm here but I feel kind of sad.
Everybody's old and they're smart and I just need to catch up.
I just wish that I had more people to share it with.
It's really hard for me to trust people.
Sometimes you just need a person who you can tell everything to and that person will be like, "I totally get you."
Yo, I need a hug.
[laughs] I'm sorry.
- Come here.
- Thank you.
[upbeat piano, electronic music] [Shelly and Wendy laughing] - Its okay, I feel you.
I've been sitting for 17 years.
- Oh my god, did you hear her?
[Shelly gasps] - Bro.
[laughs] - [Wendy] To become mean and I need a [laughs].
♪ [crickets chirping]