By Daniel Flood, Network Maintenance Supervisor, Tigard
Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to mentor a group of amazing high school students—Skeynet team 2550. We build large robots to participate in FIRST Robotics Competitions; combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. With limited time and resources, teams of high school students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone their teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots. Their creations must play difficult field games against competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get. I’m lucky enough to be one of the volunteer professional mentors. The team’s coach and I lend our time and expertise to guide our team. Each season ends with an exciting FIRST Championship.
With six weeks to build, the students are working feverishly designing and building their competition robots in hopes of winning. But for me, watching the team evolve over course of a season is the reward. At the beginning of a build season some of the team doesn’t even feel comfortable with speaking up or offering their ideas. But as the season progresses, the kids I mentor become comfortable offering their opinion and often become the nucleus of the team come competition time. The values that these young people share, along with their ability to work together in a stressful situation has shown me that our future leaders are going to work hard to make the world a better place.
As the robots are built and begin to grow, so does the team. We form strong bonds and learn to work together. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to mentor.