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Matthew Leese
Matthew Leese Name: Matthew Leese
Date Honored: 09-14-2004
Years involved w/FIRST: 7
FIRST Team(s): Lockheed Martin/AAI Corporation/BD/Towsontowne Rotary/Tessco &, Parkville High School and Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Science (0007), Bausch &, Lomb Incorporated/Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. &, Edison School of Engineering &, Manufacturing High School (0073), Bausch &, Lomb Incorporated &, Churchville-Chili High School (0340), Howard County Public Schools/NASA Goddard &, Glenelg (0888), NASA/Shim-it Corp & Whitney High School (1135)
Role: Engineer
Quote: ďItís easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.Ē Ė Grace Hopper
Bio: Matthew Leese is being honored as our next Unsung FIRST Hero because of his outstanding volunteerism to FIRST. Matt, involved with many teams (as you can see from above), and done wonders for each. Matt also told us he hailed from "Baltimore, MD, Rochester, NY, and Seal Beach, CA", giving you an idea of how far and wide his inspiration has spread.

Matt fondly remembers a few great memories: "My favorite FIRST memory occurred in 2001 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional. I had never realized how much work it would be to restart a team; even with all the help I was given. We got a sponsor two days before the registration money was due. There were few people with cars we could rely on to help get us to the high school to actually build the robot. The robot barely got finished in time. Travel arrangements were made late and paid for just before we left. There were numerous difficulties we faced on the road to restarting the team. When we got to the regional we hoped to be competitive. Instead, we found that our robot wasnít particularly well suited to the game that year. After the work that we had done this was somewhat disappointing. When it came time for the awardís ceremony, they announced various awards that we had hoped to win. We did not win any. When they announced the Special Judgeís Award, they talked about starting a team and the challenges therein. The further they went on, the more it sounded like our team. When I saw some of the other Rochester teams standing and cheering I knew they were talking about us. This award was special to me in particular because of the time and energy I, along with many others, had put into restarting the team."

Matt, with all his team involvement under his belt, has a great list of accomplishments, too. "When I first arrived at Rochester Institute of Technology in the Fall of 2000, RIT did not have any involvement in FIRST (there had been a team involved with the school from 1996-1998). In my freshmen year, I lead a team of small group of RIT students in restarting team 73. This involved gathering RIT students, getting a corporate sponsor (Alstom Signaling), getting interest in the high school (Edison Tech), and getting RIT administration involved. I continue to be involved with the team to this day through its various changes. I also was involved with the drive to get RIT to host a regional competition in 2005. We were given the approval by FIRST in the Fall of 2003 and made an announcement with Dean Kamen present. RIT also hosted a remote kickoff in the 2004 season that I helped to organize. Ever since I graduated from high school, I have mentored high school students during the build season. I have served in a variety of roles, such as team leader (in 2001 on team 73), electrical mentor (in 2002 on team 340), mechanical mentor (in 2003 on team 888), and lead engineer (in 2004 on team 1135). The longest lasting accomplishment that Iíve had to date is getting RIT involved with FIRST. RIT has become heavily involved in FIRST since I started attending with support all the way up to the President of the Institute."

Matt also has a bit of advice for us to share. "The main advice that I can give to FIRST-ers is to stick with FIRST if itís what you love but realize that there are other things in life and that FIRST will change. Itís important not to only center your life around FIRST as there are things like school, work, and friends that are just as important. Itís important to have a balanced life and not become obsessed with just one thing. The other issue is that the experiences you had in FIRST in the past will never happen again. Instead, you can have new adventures. The key is that they will be different. No two years are the same. No two teams are the same. Donít try and make them the same. Iíve seen a lot of people who were dedicated to FIRST drop out because of one of the two above reasons. Both are very important to consider."

Thanks for your wisdom, Matt, and congratulations on being honored as our next Unsung FIRST Hero.

Nominated By: confidential

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