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2011 Dean's List Essay: Hannah Sorrell

When Hannah Sorrell entered FIRST Team 1912 as a freshman, our fledgling team was only 3 years old. As a young team we had concentrated on robot building and community service, and had never been involved in Autodesk 3Ds Max or Inventor. We tried to get students interested in animation and were unsuccessful. Yet a shy, quiet freshman girl volunteered to be the one to start our Animation team. Hannah was the only freshman to join the team in 2009. Since she had no friends on the team, we immediately knew that she was serious about robotics. When she realized we had no mentors that knew this software, she recruited her father. Although he did not know 3Ds Max either, the two of them began learning on a team laptop. That first year they produced a simple animation and taught us a lot about a difficult process.

Two years later, Hannah now leads a team of 5 students as Animation Captain, fresh off winning the Autodesk-sponsored Excellence in Design Award at the 2010 Bayou Regional. This year her team produced our team's first Safety Animation submission, and expects to create a Excellence in Design animation even better than our last. Her tireless efforts have made Animation an integral part of our team. Our team was fortunate to obtain donated desktop computers from NASA SSC, which helped jump-start our Animation and CAD Teams. CAD has revolutionized the way we design and construct our robot in the build season, and we now design every part in Autodesk. Hannah's team will work with the CAD team to produce an animation of our robot's construction.

This summer Hannah taught biweekly classes in 3ds Max to train local teams; the team website archives her extensive teaching notes. After impressing event organizers at Championships this year, Hannah was invited to give a 90 minute workshop at 3D-South Summer Camp, a technology camp for high school students. This event was hosted by Vector Graphics, held August 4-6th in the LITE Center in Lafayette, LA. Hannah was the only student to conduct a workshop, teaching a room full of people about FIRST Robotics and animation. The event was covered by local TV station KATC 3.

However, Hannah is far more than an Animation expert. She understands that the purpose of FIRST is to inspire love of science and technology, not just to build robots. Therefore, she is one of our team's most active volunteers. She has volunteered for hundreds of hours in this offseason alone, and it's difficult to find an event that she didn't attend. She learned the control system to be able to operate the robot at demos. Hannah was a counselor at the Cypress Cove Science Camp, teaches at her church's Vacation Bible School, and is a Beta Club volunteer. Last year, as team Historian, she produced the team's first scrapbook, going back all five years, to create a true work of art that was essential in 1912's Chairman's Award win. She also is responsible for the team's publicity brochure and is creating a pocket folder to better distribute team materials.

In college, Hannah plans to major in Geophysics with a Volcanology and Seismology focus. To both complement her major and live her passion, Hannah will minor in computer animation. She plans to study natural disasters for the government after graduate school.

Hannah's tireless work ethic and impressive skills elicit respect from students and mentors alike. She shows by example that dedication and hard work are their own rewards. Whenever a team needs a job done, Hannah's hand is always up, eager to help no matter what size the task. Hannah has grown considerably since her freshman year, and she credits robotics for giving her the confidence and leadership skills she demonstrates so well today. Most important of all, in the midst of a frantic build season, the kindness and respect she shows others is a model that the rest of us can follow. Hannah's value to the team is immeasurable, and she truly embodies the ideals of gracious professionalism.

Webmaster's Note: Hannah Sorrell was a Dean's List Finalist at the Bayou Regional in 2011.

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