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Name: Dan Green
WFA Year: 2007
Years involved w/FIRST: 11
FIRST Team(s): Motorola &, Rolling Meadows High School &, Wheeling High School (Motorola &, Rolling Meadows High School &, Wheeling High School)
Role: Team Leader
Quote: “Wisdom is knowing what is important.” - Albert Einstein
Bio: Dan Green, known affectionately by his teammates as "Mr. FIRST", is truly just that. Dan lends his time and efforts to a variety of roles for both his team and the FIRST organization, serving as a widely-recognized announcer for many of the midwestern regionals. Dan described his team roles for us here, to clarify: "My function has evolved over the years. I began in 1996 as the Engineering team leader, and in 2000 became the overall team leader. In the early years, I was not only the Drive Team coach, but the Pit Crew Chief as well. Now - as management, I’m politely (ok, not always politely) asked to leave the Pit when I show up to “help”. I still get involved in conceptual discussions regarding the robot design and functionality, strategy, Chairman’s and more, but as my role with FIRST in other areas has expanded, I have spent more time in that capacity. I continue to work closely with our schools and keep things running for the team behind the scenes."
Interestingly enough, Dan also gave us a great quote to put up: "Raul, you’re pathetic!"
Dan also had a few great FIRST memories to share with us. "In 1996, our rookie year, we went to the New Hampshire Regional (the only regional held at that time) for our first competition. We were clueless. We showed up without a cart for the robot, so we had to carry the robot back and forth between the Pits and the Playing Field. By the time we got from our pit to the Playing Field, bumping my shin on the field border was pretty much guaranteed due to exhaustion. There we no open gates to enter the field back then. Anyway, we designed our drive train with sprockets separated 1 – 2 inches from the wheels by shafts that were secured into place by pins. For the last 2 nights before leaving for the Regional (at that time you transported your robot with you to the competition), whenever we drove the robot, the drive pins would snap after about 30 seconds. We tried all types of different pins that we thought could handle the torque, and thought we had found a solution. When we got to New Hampshire, we got on the field for our first practice, and sure enough, we snapped the pins. At that point we held a caucus of the entire travel team, and discussed our options. We decided we needed some ideas, so our Base Design team went out in the Pits to talk to other teams and observe their designs. The team came back about 30 minutes later and passionately pitched the idea of mounting the sprockets directly on the wheels to alleviate the torque problem. We realized that this was a major redesign and undertaking, particularly since we were woefully under-stocked with tools. Knowing we would have to borrow tools from other teams, and use the Machine Shop supplied at the competition, I presented the situation to the team like this: “Well, we have two choices, either we take a chance with this major redesign, and risk it not being completed in time or not working, – or – we do nothing and take our chances by replacing pins every match.” The team took a vote and decided to go for it. We got it done in time, and never had another problem with our drive train.
"A second favorite memory is from 1999. We made it to Einstein at the Championship, and were partnered with the TechnoKats (45) and Chuck Pie (84). Our alliance leader was the TechnoKats lead by a young mentor with the initials AB, who was barely out of diapers. This was our first time up on the big stage, and we had a chance to win it all. During our discussions to determine who would play in each match, the young guy insisted that we rotate all three of the teams throughout each round. That year only two teams played at a time, and there was no rule requiring that all three teams play. This maturity, fairness, and grasp of what FIRST represents made an impression on me, particularly under all the stress of the situation. Also even though we “only” made it to Finalist and placed second, we felt like Champions because we finally beat Beatty (our arch rivals and buddies), who had beaten us mercilessly every time we went up against them previously.
"My third favorite memory is from last year at the Midwest Regional when we won the regional Chairman’s Award for the first time. Members of our team have put a lot of effort into this over the years, but last year’s effort in the submission was fantastic, and seeing the teary-eyed faces of our students that had put heart and sole into this was a moving moment for me."
Dan also gave us a list of impressive FIRST accomplishments. "I was the Drive Team Coach for our first 7 years. In 2003, my first year NOT coaching, we won the Championship – hmm … Over the years I’ve helped in most aspects of the team, and started a 1st semester class with one of our teachers in 1997 that has evolved to become required for participation on the team. I’ve been involved on the Midwest Regional Planning Committee for many years, and last year became the Midwest Regional Chair. I also serve on the Illinois FLL Planning Committee, and Emcee the State Competition. For the last few years I have been a Play by Play Announcer at a number of the Regionals and the Championship. This has been enjoyable, and another opportunity to meet and work with different people in yet another environment."
So when we asked Dan how he would explain FIRST to an outsider, we got a great answer. "FIRST is a robotics competition that partners high schools and corporations or universities in order to build robots that compete against each other in a sports-like environment. By participating in this program, students see that technology and hard work can be fun, and can be inspired to travel some roads in their lives that they may not have considered."
The great Mr. FIRST also gave us a bit of friendly advice. "FIRST is about Inspiration. Our goal as mentors isn’t necessarily to teach you how to be engineers, but to inspire you to want to learn more and apply yourselves. Hopefully, by working together and giving you the opportunity to see how we apply things we’ve learned, how we interact, and how we dedicate ourselves to accomplishing tasks we’ve committed to do, this will inspire you to continue your education and commit yourselves to being the best you can be. The fact that many of us are energetic and excited about our jobs should give you hope that there are great careers you can aspire to. That we have fun working together on FIRST … well, who says work can’t be that way?
"Remember, this is our chance to make a difference. By our participation in FIRST, we have the opportunity to change the education system, and even society.
"In the 1960’s, the goal of most college students was to make a contribution. In the 1980’s, the goal of most college students was to make money. Now it’s the 2000’s – what will your goal be?"
Congratulations to Dan "Mr. FIRST" Green, the 2007 Woodie Flowers Award winner.