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Documents | 2010 Chairmans Essay

2010 Chairman's Essay Response

When FIRST founder Dean Kamen shared his vision for a more innovative and progressive world in 1989, his words and excitement were blooming into an educational and motivating organization that would inspire a Slidell rookie team nearly 17 years later. Team Combustion joined the missions of the FIRST Robotics program in 2006, curious to explore the possibilities of science, and eager to help build this bright future of engineering with FIRST. Ever since then, we have been spreading this dream everywhere from Girl Scout meetings to senior conferences at Tulane University, from city clean-ups to teen inspiration events. Team 1912 firmly believes that with the ideas and actions of FIRST, we can show seasoned skeptics how to love and cooperate, and teach the wary about science and technology. With two Gracious Professionalism Awards and a history of competitive performance, Team Combustion has turned the goals of FIRST into brilliant realities throughout its community.

Choosing right away to spread science and technology in the most interactive and dynamic way possible, our team embarked on fun and innovative demonstrations around the community in hopes of reaching families, kids, students, businessmen, and politicians all year around. Audiences are able to drive our robots and learn firsthand why FIRST fuels such spirit in Combustion. Each demo is approached with careful planning and lighthearted exuberance, whether in low-key parks, delighted schools, or sleek formal conventions. Our much anticipated visits around the city have opened the ideas of FIRST to Girl Scouts, high school students, preschoolers, and July 4th celebrators in Slidell Heritage Park. We have attended and demonstrated at the St. Tammany Business Expo, Lockheed Martin Family Day, Stennis Space Center Kickoffs, and their Bring Your Child to Work Days. Through our active community participation, Team 1912 has become a pollinator for FIRST's ideas, spreading its thoughts and values throughout our city and beyond.

Dedication to the community forms a large component of the Team 1912 ethos. As the face of FIRST's social value of gracious professionalism in the Slidell area, Team 1912 regularly participates in Clean-up Slidell events in the fall and spring to keep the environment green, one of which established a lasting relationship with the mayor of Slidell. Team 1912 will be instituting a Bring-a-Buddy-to-Battle Day in order to cultivate the relationships we have developed through this community involvement. Instead of discarding the floors of last year's competition, we donated the excess to Habitat for Humanity for use in the reconstruction of New Orleans. In response to the earthquakes in Haiti, Team 1912 raised money for the Red Cross and will be partnering with Truth 180 to supply arriving nurses.

As a Stennis Space Center House Team, we are perpetually amazed at how many people have yet to learn about FIRST as our demonstrations for the AIAA New Orleans Chapter and the Spring 2009 Tulane Engineering Conference emphasized for us; therefore, in order to spread our shared message with FIRST further, Team 1912 partners with charity organization Truth 180 on a number of events to reach the troubled youth of St. Tammany Parish. Our demo in July at the St. Tammany Business Expo at the Cleco booth, a potential sponsor, impressed the leaders of Truth 180 so much that they asked us to hold a robotics workshop at their Back-to-School Lock-In in August where we had a notable impact on our audiences. To facilitate communication with the community we adore, Team 1912 will be holding a media day where we open our doors to sponsors, newspapers, friends, family, and anybody interested in FIRST's brand of robotics.

Team 1912 places high value on the partnerships it has fostered with its sister teams. We are happy to share our resources and programming expertise in the spirit of coopertition. Last year, we opened our doors and allowed other teams to practice on our field as we were one of the few teams with a regulation competition field as well as volunteering for field queuing and reset at the Bayou Regional. We began mentoring and demoed at Harrison Central High and look forward to their entering FRC in the next competition season. Our progress in construction of our robot is recorded through YouTube posts for the benefit of these other teams.

This year, as the programming magnate of the Gulf Coast, we were chosen as a Beta Test Team for our stability and strong mentor bonds. NASA documented our work on the controls through a DVD given to all the teams at the Stennis kickoff and broadcast our presentation on NASA TV; we still display the footage on our website. Such experience now allows us to assist any and all teams in need of help. When Team 1859 of Bogalusa found themselves lacking such familiarity, our team instantly volunteered to help by sending a controls member, who readily programmed their entire drive system. We are still receiving and happily answering requests from needy teams. Our eagerness to help is expressed through our regular teaching sessions, such as those for rookie teams at Jump Start builds. As an example for other teams to follow, we take our skills earned from Beta Testing into Lego Leaguing.

Even though Team 1912 is heavily invested in the FRC, we realize that the future of our team lies in the children. Just as our mentors and sponsors lead us, we mentor and guide local Lego Leagues. After mentoring Bonne Ecole's Lego League through their rookie year, we moved on to assist Boyet Jr. High's and plan to continue doing so. Just as our mentors spread knowledge to us, we spread knowledge to our younger counterparts and expect to develop these partnerships when they join Team 1912.

In addition to being the only surviving FIRST team in the Slidell area, Team 1912 is the only extracurricular science club at Northshore High School (NHS). During the past years, we have assumed the responsibility for spreading science and technology throughout the school. Our use of Autodesk 3DS Max and Inventor has inspired drafting classes to use the same software in lessons.

Our experience in web design has become enhanced in the past few years, starting with the Website Excellence Award in 2008. Our current webmaster has greatly improved the quantity and quality of information on our website to more accurately reflect our current status, proudly displaying our alumni records per Dean Kamen's request last year.

Our high academic performance and mélange of races, creeds, and ages again earned Team 1912 the 2008 Judges Award. Our history of only women presidents makes us a role model to girls dreaming to become engineers. Team 1912 plans to participate as a UsFirstGirls ambassador at the Lone Star and Bayou Regionals to continue expanding FIRST's message to science and engineering's underrepresented populations.

As a well-established team of five years, Team 1912 has accrued a prestigious résumé. Cheering every team to victory though victory eluded us, we were honored for our enthusiasm in 2006 with the Gracious Professionalism award. Our next year's phenomenal success at the Bayou Regional took Team 1912 to the national competition in Atlanta. 1912 has since gone on to win the aforementioned 2008 Website Excellence Award, the 2008 Judges' Award, the 2009 Gracious Professionalism Award, and the 2009 Woodie Flowers Award for the value we place on mentor-student partnerships.

Mutual benefits spring from the invaluable partnerships between Team 1912 and its magnanimous corporate sponsors. After the students solicit their support with testimonials, PowerPoints, and robot showcases, corporations recognize the potential formed by our mentor-student bonds and invest in the future of their companies. Examples include NASA, QinetiQ, Lockheed Martin, Textron Marine & Land, Northrop Grumman, Jacobs, SAIC, ERC, Sierra Lobo Inc., the Qualis Corp., Northshore High School, and Signs Now. The strong mentorship Team 1912 benefits from has earned us the sponsorship from the Naval Research Lab and NDEP by the DOD, future funding of both our team and the Bayou Regional by the DOD. In addition, since 2007, we have been honored with the distinction of becoming a NASA house team by Stennis Space Center and with the privilege to build our robots at our local QinetiQ facility since 2008. For the debt we owe our benefactors, we annually visit and thank them with custom-made plaques of their invaluable contributions.

Throughout the entire year, Team 1912 maintains the togetherness formed during the build season. Considering the entire team as one big, happy family, we maintain constant communication and activity through demonstrations and educational sessions-in LabView and other programming languages-as well as social events such as pool parties and movie nights. In addition to the awards presented by FRC, Team 1912 presents each member with a unique "spoof" award celebrating a unique or humorous talent. Some annual awards presented include "All that is Man" and "Most Likely to be Seen at the Snack Table". We realized that forging partnerships is just as much a part of FIRST as robot construction, that to keep tomorrow strong, we need to be able to wield friendships as well as power tools.

We target our various FIRST goals each year with our usual structure of three build teams -chassis, controls-Autodesk, and challenge- and various support teams of financial, spirit, awards, and strategy. Throughout the year, our students from all bodies perform the majority of the team's tasks, building, designing, and reaching out, while our supportive mentors guide us through the seasons. Team 1912's enthusiastic efforts in FIRST have attracted a growing base of current members, alumni, and volunteer.

FIRST has left an unforgettable impact on the Slidell community. Science and technology become admirable studies instead of "nerdy" hobbies, taking proud seats beside other commonly recognized spectator sports. Through the gracious values FIRST espouses, we realize it is more than a robotics competition, but a series of standards to implement in our quotidian lives. Even long after trophies and awards have faded from memory and rivalries grow less important, Team 1912 hopes to create a solid foundation in our city, an inspiration for our future in the form of FIRST Robotics. Though many FIRST teams are successful, Team Combustion's individuality, enthusiasm, and inspiration help us "Breakaway" from the pack.

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