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»Andrew Baker (2003)

Andrew Baker
Andrew Baker Name: Andrew Baker
WFA Year: 2003
Years involved w/FIRST: 7
FIRST Team(s): Delphi/Ivy Tech Community College &, Kokomo Center School Corporation (Delphi/Ivy Tech Community College &, Kokomo Center School Corporation)
Role: Team Leader
Quote: “Do unto others what you want them to do to you.” – Jesus of Nazareth
Bio: Andrew Baker has been with the TechnoKats, Team #45, for seven years. His impact on the community through his constant mentoring and involvement has taken FIRST in many positive directions.

What it was like to win the WFA:

This is difficult to describe. Winning the 2003 Woodie Flowers Award was both a surprise and an overwhelming thrill. I had no idea that DJ Fluck (a senior on the TechnoKats) and the rest of the team nominated me for the award. When it happened, I was essentially in shock. After winning the award, the outpouring of support I received from friends, family, and co-workers was very fulfilling. Also, I consider the previous winners to be heroes of mine, and I am honored to be in their company as a winner.

Favorite FIRST memory:

We were attending the 1999 Great Lakes Regional. The TechnoKat robot, TKO, had some issues with breaking down. After a match, we had to fix the elbow of the arm quickly to get ready for the next match. As teammates gathered around TKO, I found myself just holding disassembled parts for a sophomore student who was fixing the elbow. He knew how to fix it just as well as I did. At that moment, our divisional president of Delphi walks up and asks how things are going. I respond by saying things are fine, and we are doing some repairs. Then, the executive noticed that the person doing the repair was a student and everyone else was supporting the student’s effort to fix the elbow. At that point, he told me that this is what FIRST is about. The student has been trained and inspired to step up and lead in their efforts. The executive walked away after telling us “good job”. At that point, I realized the thrill of being a mentor.

FIRST accomplishments:

I’ve been fortunate to be on a team with excellent corporate and school support. As a TechnoKat, I’ve had many accomplishments. However, these accomplishments have been by the team. Many times I get credit for accomplishments that other teachers, engineers or students on the TechnoKats deserve. They are great teammates and they have never grumbled about me getting more attention than I deserve. These people stick with me when I am frustrated and they stick with the program to support the many kids who are TechnoKats and who have been TechnoKats. As a whole, I think that the best accomplishment we can single out is the fact that we have truly raised the level of competition in FIRST by publishing and supporting detailed designs so that other FIRST teams can use them on their robots. Teams not only can use these designs to make their team better, but their students see how a complete design assembly should be put together and presented. I’ve seen teams use these designs and then turn around and give the TechnoKats credit for their success.

What are you up to these days?:

My main goal in life these days is to keep my wife and 3 girls happy as I juggle work and TechnoKats. My wife is a saint as she stays at home with the girls and works much harder than I do. We are active in our local Catholic church and I strive to be a good Christian husband and father. For some reason, these Baker girls put up with me as I “play with the robots”, share my frustrations with them, and travel around the country to support the TechnoKats and FIRST. They give me unconditional support as I do this, and I am eternally grateful.

Advice to FIRST-ers:

FIRST is a great program with an excellent mission. I’ve been fortuneate to be involved with various organizations over the years, and I am most passionate about the FIRST program. Everyone gets something out of FIRST. My advice to the young people in FIRST is to pass on more than you get. If you have been on the receiving end of mentoring or favors, your payment back to FIRST is to pass it on to another FIRSTer by eventually becoming a mentor or by helping a team in some way.

What does mentoring mean to you?:

Mentoring is being a friend when needed and listening to a problem without judging. Mentoring is doing your best to show what you do well. Mentoring means doing the dirty work when you lead by example. Mentoring is when you have to say the thing that you don’t want to say to a person in order to make things better. Mentoring requires patience and toughness, listening and leading, honesty and caring.

Andy Baker’s contributions to Indiana’s and the country’s FIRST programs are easily recognized. His mentorship in this program has made it better for students and mentors everywhere.

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