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Greg Needel
Greg Needel Name: Greg Needel
Date Honored: 10-15-2008
Years involved w/FIRST: 7
FIRST Team(s): NASA Goddard Space Flight Center &, Woodlawn High School &, Fred Needel, Inc. &, Brauckmann Family &, Clash Family (0768), Bausch &, Lomb Incorporated/Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. &, Edison School of Engineering &, Manufacturing High School (0073), BAE SYSTEMS/Rockwell Automation/University of New Hampshire &, Central High School (0131), Harris Corporation &, Penfield High School (1511), Hoselton/OCM Technical Services, Inc./Crosby-Brownlie, Inc. &, The Charles Finney High School (1405), (2775)
Role: Team Leader, Mechanical Engineer, Coach, Event Volunteer
Quote: "Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things." - Randy Pausch
Bio: Greg Needel has been involved with several teams in many different roles during his time with FIRST. He's traveled across the country and across the globe to help volunteer at events and help teams. Greg is an inspiration to anyone who comes in contact with him. When asked what inspires him Greg said. ”I am inspired by trying to figure out the edges of what is possible to accomplish. While I am not sure that i agree with the saying that ”anything is possible if you put your mind to it” I like to see how far I can push things before I hit that impossible barrier. I have also set goals for myself with a time frame for competition, I keep going by trying to figure out how to get from where I am now to where I want to be.”

For someone who has given so much time and energy to the program, we wondered what he has gotten out of it. ”I have gotten the chance to meet others who have similar backgrounds and interests. I have learned loads of practical engineering knowledge. And I have given myself something fun and meaningful to devote my free time to.”

After 7 years involved with FIRST Greg had this to say about the accomplishment he is most proud of. ”Most of the accomplishments I am proud of are not mine, they are the students or program success in the face of adversary. A few of the teams I have worked with have been faced with significant challenges to overcome where in many cases the community had written off the students because of failing grades, poor test scores etc. The normal problems of funding, parent support, interested teachers and general problems were solved to give kids the best opportunity possible. And the thing that I am most proud of is those students who were able to rise above the expectation and succeed.”

We asked Greg how he explains FIRST to someone who isn't involved. ”FIRST is a high robotics competition which gives students the opportunity to see their true potential while exposing them to the idea of going into a math or science related career.” Greg also had some advice for those interested in getting involved, ”The first thing I would recommend is to take a running jump into it. While you can plan and take your time there is no reason to. Just go for it and devote all the energy you can afford to spare, I can guarantee that you will come out a better person.”

Greg said that his favorite memory happened last year. ”My favorite FIRST memory was seeing team 768 win the chairman's award at the Chesapeake regional this past year. My family has been involved in that team since the beginning and having seen first hand the struggles they have had to overcome to get to this point is astonishing. The feeling that overwhelmed everyone on the team and the range of emotions is like nothing I have ever felt. One of the hardest things I have every had to do as an announcer was try to keep myself from loosing it when I was told they were the winner. I will never forget that moment and it is not just my favorite FIRST moment but one of the best of my life.”

Finally, we asked Greg what advice he would give a fellow FIRSTer. ”Students: Work hard! Hard work has seldom hurt anyone and the benefits you can get will far outweigh the challenges you will face in the process. I wish I had followed this advice when I was younger.

Mentors: Please remember that this is about the kids. There are many opportunities within FIRST which might give you the idea that it is about you; the ability to interact with some extraordinary people and experience new things, while these are a fun part of FIRST they are not the point. Know that everything you do should be about the kids and what they are getting from the program, if it becomes about you and not about them re-evaluate your involvement. ”

Congratulations to Greg Needel, our next Unsung FIRST Hero.

Nominated By: David Kelso, jade_team_73, J.Rees

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