Bill Blogged - Another Perspective
05/23/2012 Bill Blogged - Another Perspective
Good Afternoon Teams,
In December Nate Cordova joined the FRC staff for a brief internship. Nate is a former student member of team 151 Tough Techs and was a big help in organizing a week zero event in Nashua NH two years ago. After he completed his internship, I asked Nate if he was interested in writing a guest blog and he shared the following with me in February. As we were well into build season, I held onto his blog hoping for a calm moment to share it. Here’s what Nate had to say.:
In my 3 years of being on a FIRST Robotics team, I never fully realized the full difficulty in running a competition. From the team side of things, we as humans sometimes harp on the negatives, or when things don't quite work out the way we plan. Sometimes it's easy to blame others for our actions, which is a completely natural thing to do. I've heard a lot of things said about the rules, the challenges and FIRST itself such as, "Well that's FIRST, like they do every year," almost in a negative fashion. I have really never fully understood what it takes to keep an organization, such as FIRST, running smoothly, and oriented towards it's intangible, but extremely important goals.
I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the US FIRST HQ in Manchester, NH this winter break during my time off from school. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. Not only did I improve my technical and professional skills in the workplace, skills that were first seeded in high school on my FIRST team, but I really got to see the heart and soul of the organization in action. On the first day of work, as many could imagine, I felt like an overdressed geek who couldn't wipe a smile from his face. It was truly an honor to work with the everyone at the HQ.
In the midst of modifying cables for testing rigs, debugging the scoring system, and setting up the field at Kickoff, I soon learned the most important job of the FIRST organization is: to inspire. The people that work at FIRST truly know what it means to inspire and sometimes from a team perspective, we loose sight of this goal.
I'll begin speaking about this by analyzing FIRST teams into two categories, both of which are extremely acceptable, have the same overall goals, however one is more specialized than the other. The first of which is the team that inspires. This team may be run, or led, by mentors more than the other category of teams. Kids on their team may not necessarily know what they want to do for a career, whether it be engineering, business or even graphic arts. And in working along side the mentors, they are inspired to go into a field of Science, Technology, Engineering or Math. This team also lines up with the genuine goal of FIRST, which is to inspire.
The second category of teams is the team that I had the pleasure of being on and eventually leading: the team that teaches. This team that teaches includes kids that are almost "pre-destined" to go into a field of Science, Technology, Engineering or Math. Mentors take less of a leadership role and work over the shoulder of the kids, only stepping in when they ask for help. The kids then take the leadership roles of the team which enables them to get their hands dirty with the skills and techniques of the engineering process, public relations and operations of a business. Now, in this description, this team may seem like the better of the two, however it is not. It represents the other extreme. This team may become too focused in the technical process of building a robot, because as we know, it takes a lot of work and takes a lot of time. We as kids, with school and possibly jobs, can't cram anything more into our brains at that point, when the main thing that is left out is what FIRST is really all about.
The reason I analyze these two extremes is because there needs to be a balance between technical experience and what FIRST is all about. To be able to intern at a company out of high school, or during (I have had 2 internships already as a freshman in college), or begin your post-FIRST journey, you need those technical experiences. However, you also need to understand why these experiences are so important to have in the first place. It's not just to build airplanes, cars, to make money or to live in a giant house, it's: "To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated..."
So I conclude my post by saying thank you to Mr. Miller for allowing me to take up a portion of his page to speak about my internship as well as everyone at the HQ for such a humbling experience. Everyone is always thanking the volunteers, and the sponsors, and the mentors for taking their time, effort and money to make FIRST what it is today, as this is necessary and true. But everyone at the HQ are really the folks that make all of FIRST possible. Without them, we wouldn't have these awesome competitions and challenges every year.
Alumni of Team 151, The Tough Techs
Nashua, New Hampshire
Studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Hampshire
228 days until Kickoff
See you then!