Sunday, March 8, 2009

Final FIRST (for this season)

The FIRST robotics season for 2009 has finished for team 424. The team did great in the Finger Lakes Regional, earning the 6th seed in the finals. Not bad for what is essentially a JV team. Team 340, the Varsity team, squeaked into the finals and ended up in 2nd place. Not bad, two teams from the same school making it to the finals, out of 50 teams.

Last year I brought both Eric and Rudy to the regional competition, not knowing much about the program. It was at this point that Eric became interested in joining, and being unable to get his school to start a team, joined up with Churchville-Chili HS, a school to the south of his district.

Watching teams from around the state and Canada yesterday, something dawned on me. Many of the schools have large teams, somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 members. Each of these teams only build one robot. Churchville, with fewer members build two robots. There are other jobs on the teams other than building the robots, publicity, bookkeeping, fund raising, community outreach to name a few. So there are jobs for these students. But the real reason many join is to get experience in the engineering end. How much hands on experience can you have with a large team and only one robot? When you get down to it, really there about 10 members of each team that understand and really work on these machines. What having two teams allow is more students to work on a robot, and members to help each team build and problem solve.

FIRST has been a great thing for Eric to be involved with. I have not seen him so excited about anything except when he was little and played with Thomas the Tank Engine trains. Other than these two, he has sort of been doing stuff, but not whole heartedly. I have seen his personal growth in the last few months, he has gained confidence, learned to work with others and became a leader. I have never seen this part of his personality before, and perhaps he shows it in other places, but for me to witness him in action made me proud to be his father.

I am looking forward to next season, if Eric stays on the same team, he has several other sophomores who work well together moving on with him. We all are looking forward to how this will all turn out.

My other FIRST Posts
Second FIRST
Fourth First

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