Hundreds of high school robotics teams from around the country built one this year. But only the best schools made it to the finals in Atlanta — with the notable exception, says CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman of one Cinderella team.
That team is from Harlem, a part of New York City. Specifically, the team was from the East Harlem Tutorial program.
"A lot of people thought we probably wasn't going to make it that far because we were rookies," says Amadou, one of the team members. "But we still made it that far."
Amadou was one of the students who worked on the robot project. It's safe to say that almost everyone on the team had to overcome some kind of obstacle — especially Amadou. He had a secret that no one in his school knew about — one that only came out when it was time to get ready for the trip to Atlanta.
The team was supposed to fly from New York to Atlanta. But Amadou knew he couldn't get on an airplane. Illegal immigrants aren't allowed on airplanes.
Donors are asked to make contributions to: Amadou Educational Fund c/o Laura Hirschfeld, Esq., Weil Gotshal, 767 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y., 10153
Of course, Amadou figured out a way around that. He's used to being resourceful — his mother brought him to the United States from Senegal when he was just 13 and left him here … at his request. He says all he wanted to do was come here to learn.
"That was my main concern," he says. "Even when I was young, until this day — I put education as the No. 1 priority."
Amadou wouldn't take CBS News to where he lives. He says he stays with a friend who's a taxi driver — and that the only reason he's telling his story at all is in hope of swaying some opinions on the many immigration proposals now circulating in Washington. One would provide a path to citizenship for young people like Amadou — as long as they've been accepted to college, which Amadou has. He wants to be a computer engineer.
"I would love the opportunity to work and pay taxes," he says.
As for the contest: Amadou's team didn't win the prize. But he says he's proud just to have made it this far into the competition … and into America.