Congratulations, Allen! What an outstanding choice!
Incredibly overdue and well-deserved. Rename it the dang Allen Gregory Award.
Congrats Allen, a well deserved award!!
Congratulations, Allen. Knowing only some of what you do and what you have inspired your team to do, it was just a matter of time before you would win this award. The reaction of your team members and that of other teams in the audience that know you showed how much your efforts are appreciated and how much love and respect they feel for you.
Excellent job! Congratulations!!!
I try to be professional and all that but like
Can’t put into words how happy I am for Allen. This dude absolutely deserves this award.
Love you, Allen!
I am so happy about this. Allen is the best mentor of mentors serving today. What a stellar choice by the committee. Congratulations Allen, great work, keep it up!
Congrats Allen, well deserved
Well deserved, about time and thank you FIRST for recognizing such an inspiring candidate!
Congrats Allen! When I heard you won I accidentally shouted while in a Target… got some weird looks but it was worth it. I’m so happy an alumni finally won and I’m even happier that it’s you. You’ve been an inspiration to me and my team and you are incredibly deserving of this award!
I saw your passion and determine with helping teams around the world during FIRST Global. Congratulations!
Thank You all for the kind works. I’m going to cross post a thank you note I put on my FB page.
First off, I’m sure I’m going to miss numerous people in this post that I should thank and acknowledge, so if I don’t mention you and you impacted my life, just know that I’m beyond grateful.
I want to start off by thanking my family. My Mom (Laura Gregory) and Dad (John Allen Gregory III) have done everything they could to support my passion for robotics. The only reason I was able to be in FRC at all is that my mother took a job at the only high school in our district with FRC, made sure I was able to attend, and then drove me across town past 3 other high schools, for 4 years. Both my parents became mentors on the team after I asked them for their help in making the team better. My mother helped with logistics and as a Librarian at the school could let us have meetings and use the lab when other faculty weren’t available. My Dad became a mentor on our time helping with robot design but also ensuring that other team members had rides home and were taken care of. My father continues mentoring and is a WFFA winner in his own right. My mother has been an active first volunteer, serving as a safety advisor, inspection manager, and this season as a Judge. They both have embraced my passion and made it their own. The biggest and craziest thing they ever did was never pressure me to be anything but happy. They supported me when I turned down a full scholarship from the NSA, when I changed my major 3 times, when I joined Americorps after graduating instead of getting a “real job”, when I told them I was taking a job as an FRC coach the year after and still wouldn’t be making anywhere near a reasonable living. They only ever asked what more they could do to help me. I can’t possibly thank them enough. I need to thank my Sister and brothers as well FRC has been a part of their lives for as long as it has been mine whether they wanted it or not. They have been taken to events, started and coached FLL teams, and more. I love you all.
I was lucky to be able to do FRC in high school and even luckier to be able to have a fantastic group of teammates and mentors that from my freshman year supported me and believed in me. I dove into FRC on head first, learning to be FRC#647’s programmer and drive coach my freshman year. Mike Owens, our head coach, saw how much I cared and never tried to hold me back. Bruce Coons, Joe Pavliga, Vince Gonzalez, Gayle Shull, Ed, and other mentors from Operational Test Command taught me how much of an impact you can have on a student by just being there to answer questions and learning to solve problems together. I know them not only as mentors but as friends and colleagues when I was able to intern with them for two summers during college. In high school I was also able to help the team document the process Dr. Joe Johnson used to convert a DeWalt Gearbox for FRC use and to release the “Nothing But DeWalts” whitepaper, seeing how much of an impact that single document had on FRC showed me how many people you can affect if you’re willing to share what you know. I also want to thank my teammates from 647 as well, having a close group of friends that you can grow with is a huge advantage. William Rusinko, Willie Rankin, Henry Orr, Francis Maxwell, and many others helped me grow in and out of robotics.
When I graduated from high school, I went off to Rice University. I didn’t intend to be a college mentor. I was planning to listen to the advice of so many and not mentor in college (advise that I also give, volunteer at events in college, don’t run a team). But then Andrew Lynch found me at Rice and told me he was starting up a team nearby and that he needed help. I was pretty quickly sucked back in. I wasn’t a great mentor back then, the same as many college mentors, I was flaky on the time I could give to the team, and I didn’t always know what I was doing. I still don’t always know, but I like to think I pretend a little better now. The point of this is to thank Andrew for bringing back into FRC, getting to learn to mentor on the Discobots helped me tremendously. Thank you, Andrew, for your support when I was taking over Spectrum and building them up, we counted on the Discobots for so much. I was able to continue with the Discobots my first year after graduating from Rice while doing Americorps, and that is when I realized that I did really love helping to run a team and could put a lot of time into it. That 2011 season with the Discobots was both one of the hardest and most rewarding of my life. I didn’t really know what my future held or what I wanted to do, so I put all my energy into that season. I want to thank all of the Discobot students from my time with them as well, some of them are mentors now in their own right and my friends.
When you’re a student in FRC some of the mentors on other teams seem like giants, these idealized figures that can do no wrong. You’re amazed every year at how they can lead their teams to build such incredible machines. If you stay in the program long enough, you learn that you should be inspired by them but that they all can definitely do wrong. If you’re lucky you get to know these people as friends and colleagues, you get to lean on other mentors for support, ask them for help when you have a problem you and your students can’t seem to solve. You get to meet up and trade battle stories from playoff rounds past. It’s a pretty fantastic community of people all sharing the belief that by working with students today we can make tomorrow better for everyone. There are far too many people in the FIRST community who I need to thank for me to name them all so I’ll only talk about a few that come to mind right now and no particular order.
Thank you JVN, for doing a build blog back in 2011. That was my inspiration for starting the Spectrum Build blog and why it continues every year. Thank you for owning the title of “Spectrum’s biggest fan” I’m not sure what we did to deserve, but we love the support. Thank you for your design calculator and your work on the original kitbot. Thank you for inviting me out to VEX worlds the first time to be a head referee, I learned so much and made countless friends because of that single offer. Thank you and Adrienne Emerson for letting me sit in on a 148 scouting meeting many years ago, Spectrum models our pick list meetings off of the foundation I learned that night. It’s crazy that this is last but a huge thank you to both of you and the rest of 148 for selecting us and trusting us to be your alliance partners this past weekend and letting us join you in getting to Einstein, that has been a dream since I saw Wildstang knocking of stacks in 2003 and I’m so glad I got to do it with one of my favorite groups of people. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of Einstein Bros.
Thank you to Chuck Dickerson for being the model LRI. I was so fortunate to be able to work with you at Bayou for many years and see the impact you have on each and every team that comes to that event. Volunteers can change the outlook of an entire team and leave them feeling inspired instead of dejected, and I’m an LRI today because I wanted to follow in your model.
Thank you to Paul Copioli, Jim Zondag, and Lucien Junkin. I looked up to all of you when I was a student, and I’m still amazed at your contributions in your communities, your teams, and to FRC as a whole. FRC is a better place because you all are a part of it.
Thank you to Scott Rippetoe, it’s weird to think I didn’t really know you before we decided to run a Mentor Workshop together in the summer of 2012. I had only been running Spectrum for one season, and I knew I could teach mentors about how to build a robot, but you taught me so much about how to be a mentor and run a team. Thank you for your friendship and support.
Thank you to Lucia Sevcik. You don’t often get the credit you deserve for building FRC in Texas. You have been putting up with so much for so long, and you continue to give your time to the bigger mission selflessly. You have always been an advocate for teams and volunteers. You probably don’t remember this but I think the first thing you ever told me was to “Quit messing around” as my friends and I had 15+ Stack Attack totes stacked up at regional sponsor’s crawfish boil when I was a high school freshman. You were entirely right, we could have hurt someone and should have been representing FRC better. You have a tremendously hard job, and you know first hand more than most my weaknesses and failures, and I am grateful for your patience and at times forgiveness. I’m glad you have allowed me to be your friend and all the help you have given to Spectrum and me as we have tried to support teams.
Thank you to all the mentors, role models, and friends I have gained in my time in FRC.
For any of the past 8 years on Spectrum to be possible a host of events had to happen to let me find my way to being the Engineering Team Coach for St. Agnes Academy and Strake Jesuit. My college friend, Rob Lewis, was a math teacher at St. Agnes right after college and they asked him if he wanted to take over the team as the mentor, he didn’t have any experience but knew all about what I did with the Discobots, so he talked with the St. Agnes Principle, Deborah Wahlen, and got me an interview. She met with me and somewhat to my disbelief offered to pay me $5000 to coach their robotics team. That doesn’t seem like much but to be getting paid to be an FRC coach at all was astonishing to me. I can’t thank Deborah enough for allowing a 22-year-old to come in and take over their after school program. Since that day both schools have been nothing but supportive. Quickly we disbanded the separate fall programs, and I began leading our combined program year round. Fr. Johnson the head of school for Strake Jesuit believed in our program enough to include an engineering lab in their new building after we were only just getting started building the foundation for what our team has become and I’ll always be grateful for that and their continued support. St. Agnes and Strake have both trusted me with an incredible amount of freedom and have said yes to so many requests that I thought for sure would be denied (driving to the Arkansas regional on a weeks notice, or flying kids to China for an off-season event). I’m so grateful for their continued support.
I need to thank the other mentors on our team. Spectrum is run by a tiny staff. There is me, Jacob Walker and Suanne Bouvier.
Thank you, Jacob, for coming in learning how you can best support the team, I know when you came back to Strake as a teacher the engineering team wasn’t really in your mind, but you have been a massive help over the past 4 years.
Suanne I can’t even begin to thank you enough. You have made Spectrum so much better since you started helping as a parent volunteer and we are so grateful that you have stayed on to continue to mentor and support the team even after Michael graduated last season. You have taken so much of the burden of running the team from me and helped me tremendously. I am grateful for all the little things you do for the team and me making sure I eat and drink water, wishing people happy birthday, planning summer parties, and helping with logistics. I’m even more thankful for the big things you do like taking over our PR efforts, our social media, and leading our awards efforts. So much of our team’s success, these past few seasons are because of you. You have been so caring to me and to all of our students. Thank You.
I also want to thank all of the other parents who have entrusted me to coach their students. I am often confused about how you can let them spend so much time in our shop working on the robot and other projects, but I’m very grateful that you do. I do my best to show your students how much they accomplish when they are passionate, and dedicated but also how important it is to be sympathetic to others while you pursue your goals. Thank you for feeding the team and me, and for hosting our parties but mostly thank you for allowing me to be a part of your child’s life it’s a big responsibility that I don’t take lightly.
This one is by far the hardest. I have to thank all of the Spectrum students past and present. I’ve said this before, and I mean it every time. I get so much credit for the work that you all do, and I hope you all know that. This team only works because you all have a passion for this program and I believe in our mission. From teaching your teammates to helping other teams, I’m amazed every day by what you all can accomplish. From the very first year when I asked how often the team wanted to meet during build season and the answer was every day to the numerous ideas and projects you all have led to make our community and FRC better I’m so thankful. Getting to hang out with you, build cool robots, and try to make the world a better place is what makes me happy and I love that I get to this every day. You all have to put up with me on my worst days and my best, and I’m so thankful for your support and dedication to the team. The super early Saturday mornings that you could spend sleeping in, but instead you meet up with me, and we all go ref a VEX event together or hold a workshop for rookie teams, or volunteer at the food bank. You don’t have to do any of these things, but I’m grateful that you do. I’m thankful that you trust me to lead you, even when you don’t agree with the direction sometimes. I’m grateful that you care about each other and support each other, what we do every season is incredibly hard, but we can still laugh and learn to together and continue to make it better each year. I’m honored to have coached all our alumni and even more honored that many of you allow me to stay in your lives and to have you as a friend. You all put up with me on the days my patience runs short, or I’m just not having a good day, and I know it’s not always easy, but I appreciate each and every one of you. There are very few places I’d rather be than hanging out in our lab laughing and telling robot stories. Thank You
As a Spectrum alumnus, the only thing that would stymie my joy at seeing Allen receive this recognition for everything his students already knew is the simple fact that I couldn’t be in Houston to congratulate him and thank him in person. I have no doubt that Allen earned this recognition, because I know that he’s one of those few people whose lessons I’ll be remembering for a long time (God willing, until I die).
Whenever I get asked “Why did you choose to study mechanical engineering?” the answer is inevitably Spectrum. The culture and the characters that Allen has cultivated are easily the most important reason that I feel like I know exactly what I want as an engineer - a community of dedicated, curious, and compassionate colleagues. I chose to go to Duke because I knew I wanted to go to a school where I would work alongside people like Allen. I have been so blessed to find a team full of this character in Duke Electric Vehicles, and the reason I knew to look for them was because Allen showed me and all of Spectrum (and if this new award is to be believed: all of the FIRST community) that places like Spectrum and DEV exist and are beautiful.
The character that Allen instills in us, his students, is infectiouis, empowering, and it’s something that I hope never leaves me. The constant knowledge that we, not only I, can do better. The late nights racking brains to figure out robot geometry. The crazy decision to rebuild a robot from the drive rails during a regional. FIRST inspired me in all of this, and Allen was there every step of the way to make sure we were learning, growing, and having fun. Thank you for everything, Allen. I hope one day I can pay it forward.
We were lucky to have you for even the short time we could at Techno Chaos. We knew you were awesome and ready to inspire others. You have proven it over and over again. Well deserved, Allen!
Absolutely thrilled with this! Allen, you are an amazing person, a massive inspiration, and a friend. Congratulations!!!
Congrats Allen! It was a pleasure finally getting to meet you on Saturday. Thanks for helping Ignite have a great championship experience!
Congrats Allen, I read your build logs for this season and they were great!
The essay the student’s wrote nominating me has been posted on our blog.
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