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»Paul Copioli (2005)

Paul Copioli
Paul Copioli Name: Paul Copioli
WFA Year: 2005
Years involved w/FIRST: 7
FIRST Team(s): Ford Motor Company/FANUC Robotics Inc./B&,K Corporation &, Utica Community Schools (Ford Motor Company/FANUC Robotics Inc./B&,K Corporation &, Utica Community Schools)
Role: Engineer/Mentor
Quote: "Without inspiration … we would perish.” - Walt Disney
Bio: Paul Copioli has been selected as the third Unsung FIRST Hero because of his unwavering passion and energy for FIRST and his dedication to his team. A native of Sterling Heights, Michigan, Paul attended Henry Ford II High School, and after graduation, he entered the U.S. Air Force Academy. While in the Air Force, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, then spending three years working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a Test Engineer.

In 1995, Paul received his Master’s in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan. He then was hired by Lockheed-Martin, working as a Propulsion and Structures engineer until 1997, until he left Lockheed to take his current position as a Product Development Engineer for FANUC Robotics.

Paul has spent the last 5 years as an engineer and mentor to the students of team 217, the Thunderchickens. He says that his favorite FIRST memory is “watching the transformation of a student.” In explanation, he gives the example of a rookie student on the team who was very shy and quiet. He “would do what you asked him and do it well, but was not much of a leader”. Paul really enjoyed watching that student grow and change, those changes due in large part to the influences of FIRST. “He is now running a FIRST team in New York and is one of the best young leaders I have worked with,” says Paul.

As a veteran FIRST-er, Paul has quite a bit of experience under his belt. He leaves us these words of wisdom:

“Learn everything you can from your mentors. They have more experience than most high school students do and experience is all about time and mistakes. All of us make mistakes over time and experience is what we take from those mistakes. We can’t possibly make enough mistakes in a lifetime to gain the experience we need in life, so we must learn from others mistakes (experiences) so we insure that we can learn and grow. You are never to old to learn and never to young to teach. You do not have to agree with everything your mentors teach you, but you can still learn from them. Remember, people like me are here because of the students. We want to help in any way we can, not just in robotics.”

Congratulations, Paul, and may you continue to share your wisdom with the students of team 217 and the rest of the FIRST community.

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