“Even though the final result of our team was ranked highly out of the more than 200 teams from around the nation, and also one of the best in the west coast, my biggest accomplishment is not the final result of my effort, but how much I gain by actually working. In the robotics team, I spent a lot of time working on the robot and learning from teachers, engineers, students and parents, and finally, I am able to decide that mechanical engineering will be my future major career. I now have a goal of my own, a goal where I will become a consultant engineer with professional mechanical engineering knowledge, an engineer that will dedicate himself to future development for the next generation of science and technology.”
That was part of my college application essay used before graduated high school at 2000. Looking back at it, I am amazed by how young I was 5 years ago, almost ready to leave the safety of Gunn High School to face the rest of the world for the first time. I had absolutely no idea what was coming; I had my goals, my dreams, and a very sketchy plan on accomplishing them; I was frightened, excited, and nervous about my future. This is exactly the way I am feeling right now, only, the setting is different, and I am almost ready to leave the safety of FIRST to face the rest of the world for the first time…
I still remember my first message on the Chief Delphi Forum, one of the “rookie-est”](http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showpost.php?p=64948&postcount=1) post I’ve ever written. Thanks to a group of very tolerant, articulate group of FIRST mentors, I was inspired about the usage of English language, and been changed ever since. If build period and competitions was the “doing” and “inspiring” part, then the Chief Delphi Forum would be the “thinking” part. The same group of mentors taught me how to think, argue, understand, and learn from others. The inspiration and education I got from this forum was critical in many ways. It opened more doors and paths than build period and competition could ever open; it built a foundation that could only be built through a series of meaningful, meticulous mental exercise, in other words, long, painful posts like this ;-).
The more I work with FIRST and this community, the more sleep I lost ;-), and the more I understand what inspiration and education really means. Imagine life as an intricate series of doors and pathways. Without Inspiration, many doors maybe closed to you; without Education, many paths may end very quickly. When you inspire someone, you are opening doors they haven’t noticed in the first place; when you educate someone, you lead them further down paths of life than they could have otherwise. The more doors you open and paths you walk, the more possibilities you bring for your future, and the stronger foundation you build for that future. The reason this program is so important, and why I love it so much, is that it is great at doing both things. Inspiration and education will not work well without each other. You can inspire someone, but without developing their interest, they may not go very far with that inspiration. Similarly, you can educate someone, but without inspiring them, they may not do much with that education.
We are very fortunate to have this program and this community to open doors and lead us through the paths of life ahead of us. We stand on shoulders of giants who work very hard to give us what we have today. Role models like Joe Johnson, Dave Lavery, and Andy Baker showed us just how cool human beings can be. They taught us the necessary knowledge to help us grow, they gave us incredible challenges to push our limits, and they raised the bar for us to reach higher and higher. I consider myself very lucky to have the chance to learn from their philosophies and experiences. After all, what are the chances of a Chinese kid from the other side of the globe getting to do all these cool stuff with a bunch of loud and crazy caffeine addicted, donut-loving, rock band singers who are supposed to educate and inspire our future generation? (lol :D)
Seriously though, if there’s one thing I learn from these people (besides learning to think), it’s that being different doesn’t mean you are wrong or inferior. On the surface, we may appear to be very different people, separate by our race, gender, culture, interest, profession, and reputation points ;-). But deep inside, we are all capable thinking beings, which perceives, understands, and solve problems. From day one we learn to form theories of our reality, and continue to test these theories with new data everyday. That is how we understand. We may have different theories from different experiences, but our minds work the same way. We are different in the surface, but we are the same deep inside. We also learn to use this understanding to solve problems. That is how we adjust to and change the world around us. We may encounter different set of problems, but our thoughts work the same way. We are different in the surface, but we are the same deep inside.
I am very fortunate to have the chance to work with a variety of people, many of them parents, teachers, engineers, scientists, lawyers, educators, administrators, philosophers, writers, musicians, historians, artists, and so on. The more I work with them, the more I appreciate, respect, and admire each of them. Each profession represents a major part of our society, and significant in the development of humanity’s civilization. To automatically disregard them based on stereotypes and rushed judgments is to be narrow-minded and near-sighted. I hope all of you will learn, just as I did, to appreciate and understand what each of them mean to our lives and our world. What’s more important is that each profession represents a branch of our collective understanding of our world and universe, the profession being the ones who apply and practice this understanding to adjust to and change the world around us. The more branches we have, the broader our horizon is, and the better we understand ourselves and this world. As a whole, that represents all of our progress, accomplishments, and successes as a species. We are different in the surface, but we are the same deep inside, and that collective understanding represent who we were, who we are, and who we will be.
I am writing this message today to tell you that after careful, lengthy considerations of my life and my future (some of the thoughts you’ve read in this message), I’ve decided to take leave from this place I’ve call home since high school. FIRST has opened my eyes to possibilities I’ve never even dreamed of, and now it is time to explore those dreams, open new doors and walk unknown paths ahead of me. In some ways I am envious of the rookies who are just discovering all the adventures FIRST Robotics has to offer. In other ways I am very excited of the unknown ahead of me. It has become my goal and passion to explore as many branches of knowledge and experience as many adventures as possible from this point on. I may not be able to absorb all the data out there, but I hope to see a glimpse of the formulas/models that represent them. It is my wish that my passion to learn new things and explore unknown territory will never die. I hope I never stop learning, and I hope to be young at heart no matter what happens, and the doors and paths will remain opened the rest of my life.
Unfortunately (and fortunately for you poor readers out there who made it this far) this will be the last thread I post in the Chief Delphi Forum for a very long time. I love posting on this message board with the rest of you, but there’s just no time and room for it in my future. I know I’ve been threatening and bluffing for years to quit FIRST and CD forum, but I am finally saying goodbyes and wish my very best wishes for the rest of you (sorry I couldn’t just say that at the beginning ). This has been an incredible adventure, but there’s an old Chinese saying that said, “There’s no gathering in this world that will last forever.”
You’ve now just finished building period a week ago, with the first week of regionals less than 3 days away. You just went through the hard work of building your robot, working with your team, and learning from your mentors. Now is the time for the inspiration part. Be prepared to go to competition and open your eyes to the rest of the community. Be prepared to expect the unexpected, and most important of all, open your mind as much as possible so you can take advantage of all the new ideas and new concepts you are not familiar with, even though some may scare you and go against your own believes. This is the time to take advantage of all the people you are going to meet at competition, and have some serious fun! I wish all of you good luck at the coming competitions, as I won’t be able to make any of them this year. Have tons of fun, do your best to win, and be prepared for the roller coaster ride of your life!
I hope when I am off to face the world I can carry the title of “FIRST-a-holic” proudly and maintain the prestige and reputation that comes with it. When you boil it down, the name “FIRST-a-holic” represents our passion for changing the world, our energy for difficult challenges, and our bravery in facing unknowns. That is who we were, who we are, and who we will be.
From this point on, I have absolutely no idea what is coming; I have my goals, my dreams, and a very sketchy plan to accomplish them; I am frightened, excited, and nervous about my future. I wouldn’t trade this for anything in this world ;-).