In a different sense, that year is kind of this year for me. At nationals in 2002, I met up with a student on Wildstang that was also coming to MSOE and wanted to continue with FIRST. When we got here, we started the MFSO (Milwaukee FIRST Support Organization) - a student organization dedicated to giving past FIRSTers and newcomers alike a chance to stay involved with FIRST on a new level as mentors, volunteers, sponsors....whatever. For the 2003 season, there were only a handful of teams in the Milwaukee area so we traveled to many local high schools and eventually found some interest at South Milwaukee HS.
Unfortunately we all rushed into it. While we all had fun (students and mentors alike), the organization of the team was a disaster and we spent more time being frustrated than being inspired. The kids learned a lot (at least I think they did) as we rebuilt our drive train 6 or 7 times through the course of two regionals.
For this first year, Lauren (the girl from Wildstand mentioned above) was the Team Leader. At the conclusion of the season, she stepped back and handed the reigns of the team and club to me. While I was hesitant about the club, I accepted. The team, however, should have been in the hands of the teachers but they would not take the responsibility. Now I was a sophomore, had some of the hardest classes ever during the build season, was running a team, going to meetings 5+ days a week, and generally being burned out. To be honest, I still have no idea how I made it through. To make a long story short, while we did much better, the student involvement dropped off severely and thusly, Team 1064 is on indefinite hiatus. Hopefully it will be back one day with a renewed zeal, but I will not be around for that day.
On to this year: I had nothing to do with FIRST as of New Year's day. By the time Kickoff rolled around, I finally found a local team to latch on to: rookie team 1675 (Rufus King HS and GE Medical). This was a team that I could finally JUST be a mentor for. Once I met the engineer and kids, I knew that it would be a great fit. As a junior in winter quarter at MSOE, I am swamped with design projects, tons of homework, and the worst exams I have ever experienced (and I hear they get better
). But, as just a mentor that doesn't have to worry about administrative duties, I feel so much more free than the last two years (even with the super secret project the MFSO is working on for possibly release to the masses in the next year or so...). The team is great, the kids are extremely involved, enthusiastic, and eager to get things done as long as you point them in the right direction.
So I am still quite involved, but not nearly as much as I have been, and I have a renewed love of FIRST because of it - one that I had hoped to experience two years, but good things take time I guess! Now my only dilemma is nationals...its the same weekend of my steel bridge competition nationals, which, as a structural engineer, should take priority, but if the team qualifies for nationals and the bridge team has its 6 competitors, I REALLY want to go to nationals...but at least one of those is a really big IF. Time will tell...
See you in Chicago!