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Christopher Hibner
Christopher Hibner Name: Christopher Hibner
Date Honored: 10-15-2003
Years involved w/FIRST: 7
FIRST Team(s): TRW &, Walled Lake Schools (0308)
Role: Engineer and Drive Team Coach
Quote: “What the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve” – Bo Schembechler
Bio: Christopher Hibner has been selected as our sixth Unsung FIRST Hero for his numerous contributions to both his team and the FIRST community. By day, Chris is an engineer for TRW Automotive and resides in Canton, MI, yet he still finds time to engineer and coach for Team #308 – TRW and The Walled Lake Monsters. This is a well-known and popular team in FIRST Robotics for its friendly students, helpful engineers, and innovative robot designs.

Chris has worked with the TRW FIRST team for seven years now, winning such awards as the 1997 Midwest Regional Rookie All-Star Award and the 1997 National Rookie All-Star Award (also awarded to the HOT Team #67). While these are prestigious awards, Chris says that these aren’t what he is most proud of. “I would say my best accomplishments are not reflected in any awards. I still have a number of students from the team that I keep in touch with, as friends. Some are now engineers in the “real world”. I guess that I’m still able to sit and have lunch, play golf, go to Cedar Point, etc. with former team members is my favorite ‘accomplishment’.”

Chris Hibner’s favorite FIRST memory is a famous one: back in the 2001 season, Teams 308 and 71 had robots that did similar jobs and both had a great shot at winning the Championship title. “We got to the championship event ready to go, but we had a terrible string of bad luck – the bridge was getting knocked off the pivot point, teams got flipped over on the bridge, goals got tipped, and so on. We ended up salvaging enough decent matches to qualify 6th, but more bad luck hit us in the eliminations and we were eliminated early.” Chris and the TRW team were not discouraged by this, and went on to IRI to rematch with the Beatty 71 team.

“We then went on to the IRI, hoping we could show what we could do. We qualified 2nd, just a few points behind Beatty. We picked our ideal alliance and thought our chances were good. Our first pick was WildStang, who we thought would be great at pulling the goal over the bridge. When we got to our alliance meeting, Mike Soukup was looking kind of down, especially after we said what we wanted to do. He asked, “so you think we’re going to out-Beatty Beatty?” I said, “that’s the plan.” In the end, it was a hard fought competition, but we pulled it out, knocking off the previously undefeated national champions, and finally realizing the potential that our team thought we had all along.”

That experience brought Chris to a higher respect for Team 71 – “I remember telling Bill Beatty after the competition that I thought that besting his team was my favorite moment in FIRST, since I’ve long felt that his team was the class of FIRST. And let me tell you, they were the most gracious team I’ve ever talked to – truly what FIRST is all about.”

Chris finishes with strong advice for many FIRSTers to look up to. “Do NOT forget that this is a competition. Of course it is much more, BUT it is competition that brings out the best in people. The desire and drive to be the best is what motivates people to work hard, come up with new inventions, figure out better ways of doing things, and discover new things. It is the desire to be the best that forces people to think, “this might not be good enough, I need to work harder, research more, learn more, achieve more.” A good competitive spirit drives people to exceed their own expectations, which is where real inspiration comes from – this is when students say, ‘Hey, I can do anything if I have the drive to do it. Just look at what we just did for proof.’”

Our congratulations to Christopher Hibner for being honored as our sixth Unsung FIRST Hero. Chris sets an excellent example for students and mentors alike.

Nominated By: confidential

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