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Dr. Joseph Johnson
Dr. Joseph Johnson Name: Dr. Joseph Johnson
Date Honored: 01-14-2005
Years involved w/FIRST: 10
FIRST Team(s): Delphi/DaimlerChrysler &, Pontiac Central High School (0047)
Role: Associate Team Leader
Quote: If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Bio: Dr. Joe is a familiar face in the FIRST community. An active voice and and supporter of the ChiefDelphi Forums, Joe is also a common face at competitions, always willing to lend a hand. He is also known for his motor expertise and Chief Delphi's excellent designs year after year.

Dr. Joe has a long list of accomplishments in his FIRST career: "Helped to shape the direction of the Chief Delphi team. Provided the vision for a serious effort to win the Chairman’s Award. Pushed to establish ChiefDelphi.com (actually coded some of the early message board scripts) and to emphasize team-to-team communication via message boards, IRC chats, etc. Continually pushed to improve the quality of the FIRST kit (played a direct role in significant changes to the kit: Window lift motors and mechanism, Power Sliding Door motors, Keyang seat motors, Globe motors, Fisher Price motors, BEI yaw rate sensor, Skil-Bosch drill motors price reductions, Chiaphua motors, Allegro current sensor, Johnson motors, Mabuchi motors, Taigene motors, Bosch motors, etc.) Played a major role in design teams for all Chief Delphi robots. Helped make “swerve” a common phrase among FIRST teams. Helped to “close the deal” with Delphi management in order to get Delphi to become an official sponsor of FIRST." Not too shabby.

He also lists his favorite memory, a revelation of sorts. "My first year in FIRST, we had a student on our team that was a great football player, good enough to be recruited by some major colleges including the U.S. Army Academy. He had just come back from a visit of to West Point to check out the school. As I was working with our FIRST team discussing how we were going to have the best robot ever built by a rookie, this student stuck his head into the classroom and sheepishly asked if he could speak to me.

"He explained his dilemma to me, how he was being pulled this way and that, how everyone was giving him advice and that no one in his family (even a distant relative) had gone to college, yet they were telling him which path he should follow. Finally, he asked me, “What do you think I should do, Mr. Johnson?”

"My heart exclaimed as Simeon’s once did, " Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord…” It has been revealed to me that I am destined to make a difference in the lives of young kids (I really believe this). In my student’s question, that destiny began to be fulfilled! My advice to him was beside the point, I WAS BEING ASKED!

"FIRST had provided me the opportunity to have my opinions matter to some young folks. This was a magical moment for me. I will live my life thankful to FIRST for this opportunity and the others that followed."

Finally, the great Dr. Joe has some dynamite advice for all FIRST participants. "#1 Always keep in mind that robots are the means to an end, not the end in itself. Inspiration is The End we all are work toward.

"Use Inspiration as the standard of measure as you make all decisions about your team. It should inform not only what kind of robot you design and build (a robot that does not work is rarely inspirational), but which Regionals you decide to attend, what awards your team strives for, how your team is organized, who your coaches are, what events you plan in the “off season” (does FIRST really HAVE an off season? :-), etc.

"Time together as a team is sometimes more important than anything related to building a robot.

"#2 FIRST robot design is not an optimization process.

"Actually, FIRST IS about optimization, but it is not the optimization that most folks think about. Many teams ask themselves the wrong question so they end up optimizing (or, more accurately, attempting to optimize) the wrong thing.
Rather than asking themselves, “What is the best robot design possible to play this game?” teams SHOULD be asking themselves, “What is the best robot design my team can design, build, program and complete in time to give my drivers the best chance of doing well playing this game?”

"Constraints are KEY. Trade offs are everything. How much time do I give my programmers? What do I leave for my drivers to learn through practice? What can MY team design & build? Should I spend more time now in design for less assembly work later or vice versa? Etc.

"If you spent too much time optimizing one thing, you will end up with a sub-optimal result."

Congratulations to the long overdue Dr. Joe Johnson on being honored as our next Unsung FIRST Hero.

Nominated By: Josh Hambright

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