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2010 Dean's List Essay: Christopher Collins

Team 1912 may have award-winning mentors, but the reason our mentors keep coming back is our outstanding students. Christopher Collins is one such student. He has been on the team for several years and is both our Challenge and Strategy Captain.

As a dual captain, he leads the team during all phases of the build season from brainstorming to crating. He understands the value of good design and learned Autodesk in the off-season. He solicits ideas from everybody, from freshman to mentors and presents his designs to the team for input and approval. He can operate every tool in our shop, and now uses his knowledge to train other students. For Chris, safety is not an option; it's a requirement. When Chris has parts to make, he builds it with the help of other students, trying to pass on his expertise. Although Chris loves to design and build, he gets equal pleasure from seeing others succeed. When fabricating challenge pieces, he works closely with mentors and supervises students, making sure they understood what they are building. He collaborates with the chassis team, explaining requirements and design changes. He assembled a team to build the driver's console, letting freshman do much of the cutting and assembly. He can be seen in the photo enclosed, informing others on how to use tools effectively, and more important, safely. During the off-season he led the building of a demo robot with a kit-bot chassis to gain familiarity with the FIRST KOP. Chris built our new team pit last year, and this year showed others how to assemble it. Every build session he makes a point of checking on all the other teams, asking about what they're doing and offering encouragement. When it's time to test the controls, he is always there, answering and asking questions, leading the progress. His technical expertise so impressed one of his mentors that he earned a summer internship, programming in Labview. And because of his intellectual curiosity, he has volunteered to help produce the chairman's video. Prior to starting he had the group watch all the videos offered by FIRST to help produce the best product he could.

In past years, he volunteered to assist a mentor as strategist at competition. Due to his overwhelming success, the team allowed him to retain the position, even though he is challenge captain. He understands the value of good preparation, and his ideas are of chief importance when planning our design and strategy. Chris somehow finds time to be a leader in robotics amongst his busy schedule of ping-pong practice, honor band, Beta Club, JETS, Quizbowl, and his local church youth group.

Chris practically embodies Gracious Professionalism. He leads by example, giving everyone respect and consideration. He mediates disputes, never raises his voice, and unlike many teenagers, never uses inappropriate language. When the team began charity work this year, Chris led by doing, convincing students and mentors to become involved in it. He fielded ideas, met with our principal and came up with strategies for Haitian relief, without being asked. He will lead our off-season volunteering and is full of ideas about how to help people and spread the ideals of FIRST. At demonstrations of all kinds, Chris leads the team, emphasizing gracious professionalism. Chris has his younger brother on the team, but makes every team member feel like family. Chris's lighthearted moment while welding with another student, seen in the picture, shows his fun, likeable nature. Chris is an upperclassman who is almost more mentor then student. Of FIRST's impact on him, perhaps Chris himself said it best:

"I have always wanted to work with math and science, but before FIRST I wanted to be an architect. After joining I realized how much fun engineering was, and how much impact it could have on the world and have since wanted to be an engineer building robots for the United States military to help keep our troops safe."

You couldn't find anyone better.

Webmaster's Note: Christopher Collins was a Dean's List Finalist at the Bayou Regional in 2010.

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