2010 Waterloo Thanks and Congrats

What an amazing and action packed weekend, I just wanted to give out a few thanks and congrats

To our Alliance
1503 and 771 we played great and were so close to making it to the finals. Every year both your robots get better and better. Looking forward to see what you two build next year.

1305, 1310, 3190 it was great playing against you guys in the semi’s the first match was a nail biter with you guys winning by one point. And congrats for being regional finalists

1114, 2056, 296 Congrats the regional win, a power house alliance with two world champion teams and a team that has won ever regional they attended.

1305 - Congrats on another Engineering Inspiration award

1114 - I’m predicting a Championship Chairman’s award in near future.

To my team 3396, from a team that knew very little about FIRST, to building a robot with limited resources to winning the rookie inspiration award and highest rookie seed, being the #2 Alliance captain and making it all the way to the semi finals, you guys the great for a rookie team. It was a pleasure mentoring you guys.

I’d like to add my thanks to all the teams, mentors, parents, sponsors, volunteers, and public who delivered another successful energy-packed Waterloo Regional. It is always a pleasure to host this event, and I look forward to seeing many of you at GTR and CMP.

And of course, Congratulations to **all **the teams who competed. I was particularly pleased with the performance and enthusiasm I saw in our new crop of rookies: 3161, 3190, and 3396. You each deserve special mention for your various performances and I hope you will be back again at the Waterloo Regional next year!

Having said all that…on the planning committee as in other areas of FIRST, our work is never done, and if you have feedback/constructive criticism on the event, I would love to hear it! Please share your thoughts.

I look forward to hearing from you.

For the 6th consecutive year the Waterloo Regional has proven to be my favourite event of the FIRST season. The venue is the perfect size for the event, providing a small and intimate feel. Thanks and congratulations go out to the following:

Teams 1305, 1310 & 3190 - You guys played very strategic game in the eliminations that certainly gave us a run for our money. Congratulations on an amazing run to the finals.

Team 1334 - From talking to your team members on Thursday, I thought you would be a lock for either Engineering Inspiration or Chairman’s. Despite not winning either this week, if you continue doing what you do, it’s just a matter of time until you bring home a blue Chairman’s banner.

Team 296 - How often can you get a former World Champion as the 24th team in alliance selection? (Actually, now that I think about it, that’s the 6th time 1114 has been on an alliance with a former World Champion as the 24th team…) Regardless, you guys played admirably, especially in the face of adversity. We’ll see you in Atlanta.

Team 2056 - What’s left to say about 2056? Another amazing robot from the crew from Orchard Park. If you’re attending either GTR or Atlanta, you need to stop by their pit and look at their robot up close. The craftsmanship is astounding. These guys are treat to watch on and off the field. Congratulations on completing the “surge for seven”.

All the Waterloo Regional Volunteers - I love volunteering in Waterloo just because of all the great volunteers who make it such a fun experience. It’s an amazing feeling walking around the building and always being greeted with a friendly smile from anyone in a “crew” shirt. These volunteers kept the event running smoothly and ahead of schedule. I know the teams and spectators appreciated all the hard work that was put in by this wonderful group of people.

Waterloo was a blast once again and I can’t wait for next year. In the mean time, I’ll just go get my popcorn ready!

Finally a few minutes to breathe…

This has been an extremely challenging year for me. A new career, a new team, a new home, and new responsibilities. After 10 years of being involved with team 188, I decided take a giant leap. In the Fall of 2009 I officially ended my career as an engineer and entrepreneur, and was hired on as a computer studies teacher at Runnymede Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

And so began my new adventure…

Runnymede is the home of team 1310, a team that has been a model of consistency, making to the semi-finals at Waterloo and GTR for as long as I can remember.

It has been a thrilling and humbling experience being with this team as we attempted to grow and take that next step. We wanted to build a team - not just a robot - that would excel both on and off the field.

Looking back at Waterloo, I think we accomplished that.

Our robot was pretty good. We were happy with it. Very happy with it actually. IMHO it was the best robot this team has ever produced.

But when you look back on a season, don’t just look at the robot. There are so many more important things to see:

  • You see the students in the stands scouting every single robot in every match for the first time in team history

  • You see a dedicated group of students waiting for you in the parking lot of the school at 5:30am everyday, just so they can be first in line when the doors open

  • You see your grade 9 programmer spend an entire regional in the pits, masterfully manipulating a mecanum full-time drivetrain PID, encoder-driven variable power kicker, and light-sensor ball detector, until he finally nails a 3-ball autonomous

  • You bump in to your strategy students, huddled in the corner of a local Tim Horton’s at 9pm on Friday, feverishly and aggressively arguing the pros and cons of picks 20-24. It isn’t pretty. You can’t help but smile anyways.

  • You were just eliminated for the umpteenth time by 1114 and 2056 in the finals of a regional - something that has happened to you so many times that you’ve lost count. You feel you were close to beating them, “but not really.” A little bit exasperated from the failed attempt, you turn and start to walk away from the driver’s box when one of your drivers pulls you aside and says: “Sir, you have no idea how unbelievably happy I am right now.” The huge smile on his face is contagious. Your other driver of course is too busy to acknowledge either of you, because he’s too busy cheering harder than he’s ever cheered in his life - even in defeat.

To 1114, 2056 and 296: We are privileged to be able to compete against world-class teams in our area. Powerhouses inspire and push us to become better. Two former world champions (don’t forget 296 was the first Canadian team to win a Championship in 2006, and yes they were the Alliance Captain during their Championship run), and a winner of 7 consecutive regional competitions - that’s every regional they’ve ever competed in. Understand that it will take another world-class alliance in order to beat this one. That’s a challenge to the rest of us to step up, and we are almost there - but not quite.

To 1305: You don’t need me or anyone else to say anything more, or to pat you on the back on a job well-done. Your team’s excellence on and off the field begins and ends with this amazing statistic: 6 Engineering Inspiration Awards in 7 years of existence. Ridiculously inspiring.

To 3190: Rookies are making a splash this year. I don’t recall seeing a year where so many rookies were able to step in so quickly, and show the vets how it’s done. There’s a good chance that at any given event, a rookie with a robot that can cross zones, kick and score will slip deep into the second round. The challenge will be to find them. Our alliance found ours =).

Thanks to all the amazing volunteers that make this event happen. Not only is it my favourite event to compete in, Waterloo is simply a critical piece of the FIRST puzzle in Canada. I can think of no better place for a team to go to improve. It’s small, intimate, less hectic, and you are surrounded by teams, resources, and an environment of people who “get it.” It’s the perfect place to perform at your best, or if you’re far from it, to make huge strides.

Simply put, if you’re a Canadian team who isn’t going to Waterloo - you should be.