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Nate Smith
Nate Smith Name: Nate Smith
Date Honored: 09-01-2004
Years involved w/FIRST: 7
FIRST Team(s): Haworth Inc./Magna Donnelly &, Holland High School (0074), General Motors Powertrain Corp &, Willow Run High School (0066), Automotive Components Holdings, LLC/Ford Fund &, Ypsilanti High School (0470), DaimlerChrysler &, Oakland School Technical Campus Northeast (0001)
Role: Programming, Webmaster, Scouting Coordinator
Bio: Nate Smith's list of FIRST accomplishments is a long one. Helping out at various FIRST events and being involved with an impressive list of teams for seven years is no easy feat. Nate currently does support at FIRST events.

Nate's favorite FIRST memory is a chaotic one: "The 2001 Competition season was the first year for the West Michigan regional. Being a student at Eastern Michigan University (the home of the Great Lakes Regional) at the time, I wasn't sure if I would be able to attend the West Michigan event in any form. Thankfully, it ended up falling on my spring break week from EMU, so I just stayed at home (about 20 min away from the venue) and showed up Tuesday morning, knowing that FIRST would be on site to begin setting up for the event. I arrived to a panicked event manager, who was on the phone with FIRST, who was stuck in CT because of a snow storm. The field kit had barely made it to the event, and new carpet was on the way from a warehouse in Chicago, as the carpet used in CT was snowed in at the CT venue's parking lot. Needless to say, the event manager recognized me from previous events, and immediately recruited me for an emergency event crew. I spent the better part of the day on the phone, rounding up laptops and getting a crash course on the scoring system so we would have at least a basic system ready to go on Thursday morning. Thankfully, the FIRST staff were able to arrive by dinner time Wednesday, and after a late night setting everything up, now that the people who really knew what was going on were there, we were able to start the event with almost no indication of the problems that we had experienced as late as the night before." Sounds like quite an adventure, but thankfully it was handled professionally and with Nate's help.

Nate has had a pretty full schedule these past few years. Being involved with teams 74, 66, 470, and 1, Nate's accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at. "In ’98 & ’99, I was on my high school’s team and was mainly involved with our team’s video productions and a basic scouting setup at the Championship in ’99. During that time, I also began working with one of the team mentors and other teams in the area to bring about the West Michigan Robotics Invitational, with eventually expanded into the West Michigan regional. The first few years, I custom-wrote a scoring system for this event, until I finally realized that I could get the official scoring system directly from FIRST if I was to ask the right people.

"When I traveled off to college at Eastern Michigan University, I looked around for a team in the area that wanted my help. There ended up being quite a few, but I worked for my first 2 years away from home with team 66, GM Powertrain & Willow Run HS. During my time with that team, I developed a comprehensive scouting system which eventually became part of the GMCIA scouting network, and eventually integrated with SOAP. During this time, I was approached with several other offers to help with various off-season events, including the Kettering Kickoff, Sweet Repeat, Chief Delphi Invitational, OCCRA(who I write a custom scoring software package for each year), and IRI(who got a few new features in the scoring software the year I was down there – real-time scoring, anyone?)

"Eventually, after 2 years with team 66 and 1 year with team 470, I decided to call it quits as far as working with a specific team. However, one team had other plans. They contacted me partway through the build season, looking for help with writing their autonomous control code. I developed a “training” system which allowed the operators to program the timings for each step of the autonomous code based on actual robot operation, and not trial and error.

"Finally, in 2004, I completely separated myself from any team and was able to support the competition more as a whole. I was the trainer for the scoring system at 2 regionals, and the operator at one. I would have provided more support throughout the season, but between getting married 2 weeks before kickoff, getting promoted to store manager at my job, and working to buy a house, my time was somewhat limited. Even today, however, I still try to help out the community as a whole as much as I can, and still support a few of the off-season events. After all, 1 or 2 days is a lot easier to get off work than 5."

Nate has a few closing words of advice for FIRSTers: "If you are anything like me, going into your first year, you will have no real idea of what you're getting yourself into with this whole thing. Don't let anything discourage you during your first season. If it wasn't for the experience that I had at my first regional, I may not have continued on in FIRST to the degree that I have reached today."

Congratulations to Nate Smith for his Unsung FIRST Heroes Award.

Nominated By: Dez

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