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Unread 04-20-2010, 04:13 PM
Racer26 Racer26 is offline
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

The thing that I think alot of Americans don't realize is just how much their economy affects the rest of the world.

The economies of the rest of the world, and Canada in particular is heavily dependent on money coming in from exports to the USA. When the American economy tanks, it drags the rest of the world down with it, because the American public stops buying whatever widget my company exports to the USA.

Also, I don't think most Americans realize just how culturally similar Canada is (especially within 200km of the US Border, where 90% of Canada's population exists). I've travelled many parts of the world, and I can definitely say that Canada and USA are very similar, while the rest of the world is rather different.

My point here I guess is that the world does not revolve around the USA, BUT it is HEAVILY affected by what goes on there. The tanking economy, thats a world problem. The lack of future engineers this program is supposed to nurture, again, world problem. The lack of clean drinking water for the masses, once more, world problem.

If we're going to change the culture, get students the world over involved in STEM fields, and bring FIRST to every teen around the globe, we have to start by treating the problems not as an "American" problem, but instead treat them as what they are. World Problems.
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Unread 04-20-2010, 05:51 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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Originally Posted by 1075guy View Post
As someone who's been around FIRST since 2003, I think I'm justified in saying I've heard a good portion of Dean's speeches, and since 2003, there's been a few things I've noticed over the years, both in Dean's speeches, and those of John Abele, Woodie Flowers, Paul Gudonis, and Bill Miller too.

A recurring theme I see in the speeches of these leaders is references to "this country", and "America". This is HIGHLY offensive to those of us who come from Canada, Brazil, Israel, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Great Britain, and more. Frankly, we have no intent of helping the United States of America by participating in FIRST, though it may be a side effect.
As a fellow Canadian, I've heard the repeated references to the USA as well, but maybe haven't been as bothered by them.

While the words might reflect a lack of global vision, they aren't nearly as important to me as the actions of FIRST, and those associated with it. FIRST is acting with a global vision, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

But I think if we want to take this particular topic any further it should get its own thread.

Jason
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Unread 04-20-2010, 06:29 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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Originally Posted by dtengineering View Post
As a fellow Canadian, I've heard the repeated references to the USA as well, but maybe haven't been as bothered by them.

While the words might reflect a lack of global vision, they aren't nearly as important to me as the actions of FIRST, and those associated with it. FIRST is acting with a global vision, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

But I think if we want to take this particular topic any further it should get its own thread.

Jason

I feel the reason Dean refers to the USA when they are talking about economic things in general is because the United States in having a problem right now with our economy. (now, I dont know much about how the economies of other countries are doing right now so dont hate me)

And, with the majority of teams in FIRST being from the USA it makes sense to target the U.S when they are talking about helping the economy right?

I was slightly saddened when Dean made this comment though,
because it made me think about all the times my dad would come home from work(pumping concrete, not an easy job, he's 52 and doing a job I would struggle to do) and tell me that I better go to college so I dont have to do something like that.


I agree that this is a "World problem", but we have to start somewhere right?
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Unread 04-20-2010, 06:44 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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I was slightly saddened when Dean made this comment though,
because it made me think about all the times my dad would come home from work(pumping concrete, not an easy job, he's 52 and doing a job I would struggle to do) and tell me that I better go to college so I dont have to do something like that.
Your dad is telling you the same thing Dean told you, using different words.
OK, it's a little different -- your dad is also telling you he loves you.
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Unread 04-20-2010, 06:57 PM
Akash Rastogi Akash Rastogi is offline
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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Originally Posted by thefro526 View Post
When Dean made this comment during his speech, I actually perked up a bit, and began to listen more attentively. I was a bit offended personally, but I think I was more upset because of how the students on our team may have taken it.
The students and mentors on our team were slightly offended by these comments as well. A few of our best mentors are laborers who have been with the team 10+ years and are some of the most dedicated people I have ever met. It is disheartening to see that the efforts of people like them are undermined and I am not even sure if Dean realizes what he says sometimes. Just because someone is not an engineer does not mean that they don't have a big impact on a team.
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Originally Posted by Andrew Schreiber View Post

Perhaps the phrasing Dean should have used: "No one wants to do a job they are not passionate about." I know everyday I go to work dreading it, I am not passionate about what I do and I hate it. Perhaps FIRST shouldn't be encouraging STEM but should instead be encouraging passion while exposing students to new opportunities.
I agree 100% with this. Well said.

If topics like this were pointed out to Dean, I'm sure he would at least try to apologize in some way shape or form.

.
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Unread 04-20-2010, 07:13 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

I've had a few jobs that have been physically tough, but at the end of the day I always enjoyed looking back and seeing the results that I'd produced. There is no better feeling than working as hard as you can - mentally and physically - and ending the day by looking back at the fruits of your labor. It taught me a great deal about expectation, responsibility, efficiency, and reliability.

It's a mindset - some people are not cut out for physically taxing and rigorous positions. Others can't imagine a life outside of the barn, the shop, the millyard - whatever the job may be. The beauty of life is that we forge our own paths the way that we see fit, molding and shaping our years into what we'd like to become.

But in addition, no parent wants to see their child struggle. Some people do view the demanding, monotonous labor jobs that exist in our society as the lowest on the totem pole and does not want to see their child taking a tough path in life. That's why our society stresses education in EVERY form, so that the most number of desirable options exists for every person. However, every person's definition of "desirable" is different, and I think Dean's inadvertent message seems to have ruffled the feathers of those whose positions are oft seen as less desired.

If your team is worried about your supporters, here's what I'd tell those mentors, students, parents, etc. that were offended by Dean's comments - Our team appreciates you. After all, Dean does not run your team. FIRST is a community program and a grassroots movement that is changing lives all over the nation, not a dictatorship or a kingdom ruled by one lone man. In the full scope of things, while the comment may have been somewhat inflammatory, those mentors and sponsors may need your love and support to remember that they're changing lives and helping to enable students to do what they want to do - manual labor or other career. You can be the positive reinforcement to tell these students that they can do whatever they want - and that FIRST can be a springboard - even if the career is not STEM related. (Yes, I said it.)

The short answer is - Dean's comment really doesn't matter. While it certainly didn't help matters and stepped on a lot of toes, it's okay. FIRST goes on. He's a great role model for this program, but it's alright to disagree with him. FIRST cannot run with only engineers as mentors. All walks of life are needed to make this program happen - community change can never become a reality without everyone's involvement. And you know what? That's just fine. Just make sure you communicate back to the owners of those stepped-on toes that they are appreciated, regardless of their profession.
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Unread 04-20-2010, 07:25 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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Originally Posted by Amanda Morrison View Post
You can be the positive reinforcement to tell these students that they can do whatever they want - and that FIRST can be a springboard - even if the career is not STEM related. (Yes, I said it.)
Ironically, the mentor/sponsor who is backing away due to this has a daughter as an alum of the team who has gone into a non-STEM field (media relations) because of her experience on the team... (The others got over it quite quickly, and have pledged their continued support to our team).

And as to the rest, do you have any idea how hard it is to change the mind of a proud farmer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amanda Morrison View Post
The short answer is - Dean's comment really doesn't matter.
It would be nice if that were true, but in this case it most certainly does matter. It matters very directly to a tiny rural team (we might possibly be the smallest school to participate in FIRST -- though I'm not sure where I'd go to find out if that were actually true, I'm sure it's very close to true).

We are tremendously -- tremendously -- grateful for Bausch + Lomb's sponsorship, but we also depend on the assistance of businesses in our town... And our town has literally no white collar businesses.

This won't destroy our team, certainly. Indeed, with our success at FLR, we've got big plans to expand and spread. But it didn't help, and did actually hurt -- not just some people emotionally, but our team and my students, materially and through a loss of mentor support.
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Unread 04-20-2010, 08:17 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

I 100% agree with the 1st post. it was very elitist of Dean to say this. And I have often considered a job in manual labor. getting in tune with my inner self as i perform tasks of manual labor is often something that i consider doing for a living. And this is my 7th year in first.
I currently a pre med student at a top15 school but my sumer job is that of a janitor. Something i annually CHOOSE to do
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Unread 04-20-2010, 08:26 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
And as to the rest, do you have any idea how hard it is to change the mind of a proud farmer?
Yes I do. I too am the son of a proud farmer. Even though I am from South Carolina I worked with beekeepers from his area. In the winter time the only thing between Naples and the North Pole is a barbed wire fence and it is down.

Please offer him this deal from the son of a farmer and a former farmer and amateur beekeeper

You ask him to pledge to go one more year, just one more year ! I will pledge to him that I will persuade Dean to make good. And if Dean makes good you guys need to send me some of that great upstate New York clover honey.

I'm absolutely serious about this. This is too important.

Ed
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Unread 04-20-2010, 08:30 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

Maybe we should clarify what manual labor means to some of us.

When I think of manual labor, I think of loading 50 lb. feed sacks in the bed of a pickup truck or on a flatbed as they drive through the warehouse line and then prepare to load more 50 lb feed sacks on the next flat bed - all day long.

I think of digging post holes and filling them with the posts and dirt to run the fence line on acres of land.

I think of mucking horse stalls and carrying water.

I think of men standing on a corner waiting for backbreaking jobs to come along in the hot sun and hope they get chosen.

That's what I mean by manual labor. There may be other definitions that I'm not aware of.
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Unread 04-20-2010, 08:34 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

Every job is important. if it werent, people wouldnt pay for it. people do things that contribute in some way to society. they shouldnt be dismissed, no matter what the job is
However, i do not thtink that Dean meant his comment offensively. Im sure that he didnt mean it... all he was trying to explain that he wants all of the intelligent kids who are in FIRST to contribute to society in some way that will advance us all, and that the math and science were learning in FIRST can aid us in doing that.
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Unread 04-20-2010, 09:13 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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Originally Posted by ebarker View Post
You ask him to pledge to go one more year, just one more year ! I will pledge to him that I will persuade Dean to make good. And if Dean makes good you guys need to send me some of that great upstate New York clover honey.
PM me your address, and I'll send you some of my first spring honey, whether it be clover or whatever interesting tidbits God and the weather end up providing -- and that's regardless of his response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaneYoung View Post
Maybe we should clarify what manual labor means to some of us.
To be honest, I think if you feel the need to clarify what is meant by manual labor, you are missing the point. Look at the Shepard guys -- all they were doing was moving boxes and driving forklifts, over and over again -- and yet they are integral to our operation.

What people today call McJobs, my generation called "opportunity".
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Unread 04-20-2010, 09:20 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
To be honest, I think if you feel the need to clarify what is meant by manual labor, you are missing the point. Look at the Shepard guys -- all they were doing was moving boxes and driving forklifts, over and over again -- and yet they are integral to our operation.
I haven't missed the point. Next time you are in Austin, let me know and I'll introduce you to some folks that drive forklifts and move boxes when they aren't loading the feed sacks on the trucks.

And I'll introduce you to one of my team's sponsors.

Jane

Edit in response to question about my original post in this thread.
As we know, the history of FRC started small and grew. As it has grown, it has spread out and become more inclusive - with schools, teachers, and mentors buying into the vision and the goals - getting students involved and engaged in science, math, technology - and thinking about their plans for the future. Some areas where FRC has spread to are still struggling with student retention and hopes of graduation, much less college and degrees in fields of math, science, technology. Degrees of any kind. I know first hand, the passion that these teachers and mentors have. They've found something that will inspire and will engage their students and will help motivate them to achieve educational goals, helping them to become high school graduates and first generation college students, breaking new ground.
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Unread 04-20-2010, 09:26 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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I haven't missed the point. Next time you are in Austin, let me know and I'll introduce you to some folks that drive forklifts and move boxes when they aren't loading the feed sacks on the trucks.

And I'll introduce you to one of my team's sponsors.

Jane
Fair enough.

But now I have to ask what your original post was meant to illustrate. (Not trying to be obnoxious here -- I genuinely don't get it.)
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Unread 04-20-2010, 09:28 PM
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Re: Dean Kamen, Manual Laborers, and You

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Originally Posted by gvarndell View Post
OK, I've been waiting for somebody else to ask but nobody has.
I am not challenging you because I wouldn't know where to start if I wanted to.
Would you please explain what you think it's about?
It is quite simply remembering about one's manners and being polite.

Again, regardless of the truth or validity of all the other points discussed in this thread, I was taught to never show any disrespect for the way someone else puts food on their family's table.

Some folks have wondered how to be FIRST without doing that (without describing some careers as bad or undesirable). I suggest looking at it this way: FIRST helps its participants by showing them STEM's value, and by giving them options and choices. For some this is simply giving them an extra nudge in a direction they were already headed. For others FIRST gives them the key that unlocks a future full of possibilities.

To get back to the subject of manners, if I am ever in front of a group and even hint that someone whose best option is "manual labor" has made a bad choice, I want/need to be smacked hard with a 2x4. In the context of this thread, someone as blessed as I should never do anything other than show manual laborers extra respect, while continuing to open as many doors as I can.

That's how my grandmothers want me to behave.

Blake
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