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Karthik Kanagasabapathy
Karthik Kanagasabapathy Name: Karthik Kanagasabapathy
Date Honored: 02-01-2005
Years involved w/FIRST: 8
FIRST Team(s): Scotiabank/Bell Canada/Toronto District School Board &, Woburn Collegiate Institute (0188), General Motors - St. Catharines Powertrain/Allied Marine and Industrial &, Governor Simcoe Secondary School (1114)
Role: Team Advisor/Consultant
Quote: "For me, winning isn't something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally every day that you train and every night that you dream." - Emmitt Smith
Bio: Karthik Kanagasabapathy is well known on the ChiefDelphi forums (and no, not just for that whopper of a name). Karthik, a member of the Waterloo Regional Committee and an active member of NiagaraFIRST, is becoming well known as a guiding voice and talented mentor in FIRST.

Karthik described his accomplishments for the community. "Some of my proudest accomplishments include being a member of the first ever Canadian team in FIRST (188 in 1998), leading Team 1114 to one of the most successful regional seasons in FIRST (One championship, Two Finalists, 4 Technical Awards, 1 Animation Award), being a part of the fabulous off-season event at Canada’s Wonderland, helping the development of FIRST in Niagara Region and being a part of the process of getting the new Waterloo Regional off the ground.

We’re working very hard these days north of the border to develop and nurture the flock of young teams we have. This past fall Ian Mackenzie and I ran a series of 6 workshops on various FIRST topics. I also helped plan, design and run the 2005 Robovation competition that was held at the Toronto remote kickoff. With all this guidance, we’re very hopeful that more Canadian teams will become forces to be reckoned with this season.

The accomplishment I pride myself on most, however, is getting people excited about FIRST who normally wouldn’t be. There’s a huge “nerd” stigma attached to FIRST and science and technology in general and, as adults, it’s easy to forget how much these stigmas mean to teenagers. As a result, many very bright individuals avoid technology because it’s “dorky”. I was one of those people when I was in high school, but luckily for me the excitement and energy of FIRST changed my view. As a result, I now work very hard to show students that FIRST isn’t just for “nerds”. You can still be interested in science and technology and be a cool kid, not a pariah. Bringing science and technology via FIRST to these kids who would have avoided it like the plague is more worthwhile to me than any trophy."

Karthik also told us a little bit about his favorite memory in FIRST. "Two moments stick out in my mind as my best memories of FIRST. The first would be nationals at EPCOT in 1998. It was my last year of high school and Mark Breadner and Roly Anderson had entered Woburn Robotics, Team 188, into the FIRST Robotics Competition. We had done a smaller scale competition in years past, so upon entering FIRST my expectations weren’t very high. All of that changed when we arrived at EPCOT. I walked into the Einstein Stadium and my jaw dropped; I saw a temporary stadium with seating for 10,000 + people which had been erected just for FIRST and immediately realized the magnitude of this event. This definitely wasn’t some sort of small-scale science fair. Over the course of the weekend, the high level of competition astonished me. The robots were awe-inspiring! Seeing those robots made me realize that one-day I wanted to make people’s jaws drop the same way mine had. That feeling of awe and excitement is a big reason why I’m still here today.

The second moment is the entire 2004 season. It had now been six years since that first trip to EPCOT, and things were coming full circle. Working with some amazing people at GM (most notably Ian Mackenzie, Derek Bessette and Steve Rourke) and some very keen and dedicated High School students, we created a very capable and complex robot, “Simbot Simon”. At every competition we attended, the crowd would “ooh” and “aah” during our first practice match when they caught a glimpse of our robot’s swerve drive and pneumatic wheel lifters in action. People were constantly coming up to me and saying, “That’s so cool, I want to be able to do that!” “Simon” became such a crowd favourite in Pittsburgh and Long Island that fans throughout the arenas were waving Canadian flags to cheer us on. I like to call that our “Rocky IV” moment. We put together an amazing season and won many awards, but none will top the gratification of knowing that I was partly responsible for exciting students about technology the way I had been years earlier."

Lastly, Karthik gave us a little bit of advice to heed. "As I see it, the main goal of FIRST is to affect a cultural change in society. This is no small task. To bring about this level of change, we must never lose sight of the goal; to change our culture, FIRST must create an awareness in as many people as possible. I see it as the responsibility of each and every one of us to make this happen. I’m not asking every one to go out and start a new team; it’s much simpler than that. Spread the word of FIRST. Invite your friends and parents friends to a competition. You all know as well as I do that once they see FIRST in action, they’ll be hooked. From there, we’ll be one step closer to accomplishing our goal."

Congratulations to Karthik Kanagasabapathy for being honored as our 29th Unsung FIRST Hero.

Nominated By: Holtzman

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