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»Ken Patton (1999)

Ken Patton
Ken Patton Name: Ken Patton
WFA Year: 1999
Years involved w/FIRST: 8
FIRST Team(s): GM Powertrain &, Pontiac Northern High School (GM Powertrain &, Pontiac Northern High School)
Role: Engineer
Quote: “If it was easy, someone else would do it.”
Bio: Ken Patton has been involved with Team # 65, the Huskie Brigade, since 1997. In 1999, he was awarded the Woodie Flowers Award for his intense involvement in FIRST and his amazing skills as a team leader.

What was it like to win the WFA?:
Being able to go up in front of thousands of people giving you a standing [ovation] is pretty cool. It felt like they meant it, and that was an exciting feeling. I realized after winning such a big honor that there is some responsibility that goes along with it. You are now a little more permanently attached to the FIRST community and you have to keep up your efforts to build FIRST and support its goals. In fact, one of the people up on the stage said something to me along the lines of “you have to keep doing this, you know.” I know.

Favorite FIRST Memory:
1997. Our first year, our first regional at Rutgers. We were young, stupid, and innocent. Our team was very friendly, but with our tough-looking camouflage pants and some pretty big students, we looked sort of mean at times. Our operator didn’t smile too often, even though he was having a blast. At the awards they were reading off the accomplishments of the Rookie All-Star team, and right when they announced it, they started playing “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” How fitting!

FIRST accomplishments:
Our team has won a lot of awards, and it has always been a team effort. I’m proud to say that we have put together several years of great seasons, including how we interacted with other teams, how we ourselves functioned as a team, and how our robots have performed. But one accomplishment that is important to me is that our team has helped develop some world-class leaders – students and adults. FIRST is hard, and anyone who has a leadership role on a team gets tremendous experience in learning how to lead. There should be an “L” in FIRST.

What are you up to these days?:
The same old stuff. Winter = FIRST. Summer = catching up. My wife and I are restoring a 105-year-old Victorian and that is an endless job, but it’s rewarding to occasionally finish something. I crew on a sailboat and I love sailboat racing – it has some of the same strategic and tactical challenges that the FIRST game does. I haven’t been our team leader since 1999, but I am up to my ears in our FIRST team as much as ever. Our team leaders have a tough job having to listen to my ever-present opinion!

Advice to FIRST-ers:
School is SO much more important than FIRST. If your grades are suffering because of FIRST you should change something. People who don’t know you (colleges and employers) will look at your resume and, whether you like it or not, your grades will matter. You will have the rest of you life to be on a FIRST team. Don’t feel bad if you have to cut back on FIRST in order to get a good education.

What does mentoring mean to you?:
Since my wife and I don’t have kids, I don’t know what its like to be a parent. But having the chance to positively impact the lives of people who will someday be running our country and our companies, and passing along the important ideas of hard work, competitiveness, and fairness, is the primary reason that I can justify my time spent on/in FIRST.

Ken’s accomplishments and contributions to this program have not gone unnoticed. The FIRST community celebrates Ken's involvement and WFA Award in 1999.

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