Operation Inspiration 2004: Who wants to read all of the WFA essays?

Congratulations to David Kelso, Dave Beck, Ansel Butterfield, Paul Roush, Michael Rush, Ken Ardizzone, Tim Flickinger, Frank Larkin, Sean Schuff, Dave Ferreira,George Perna, Paul Copioli, Jay Tenbrick, Steve Kyramarios, Brian Buonomo, Bill Vinnage, Rick Pierce, John Budish, Andy Bradley, Joe Perrotto, Robert Mainieri, Roland Anderson, Lender Luse, Bill Soetebier, Ted Shinta, and Darrell Noble for winning Woodie Flowers Awards in 2004.

Here’s a chance to inspire a ton of students AND adults. Following the lead of DJ Fluck and Andy Baker from 2003, lets post/link ALL 26 winning Woodie Flowers essays here for everyone to read and be inspired.

Here’s Dave Beck’s winning essay from the NJ Regional, written by senior driver and team VP Mike Williams:

Let’s read about all 26 right here…

Here is the essay about Sean Schuff (Team 93) Chelly Zimmer and I wrote as our St. Louis regional entry.

During the past twelve years, FIRST has worked diligently to inspire our youth in the fields of engineering and technology. After six years as the N.E.W. Apple Corps coach, Mr. Schuff fuses another element with this mission, teaching. His quiet but potent inspiration glows through his dedicated heart, attentive ears, and “loaded words” as our coach and teacher and most importantly, friend. Mr. Schuff’s electric traits inspire some team participants to become engineers, but he also tends to inspire many to become teachers.
As a high school technology education teacher, Mr. Schuff recognizes the quality of learning experienced by students through hands-on activities after school at FIRST. In order to capture this learning experience, Mr. Schuff started the Tesla Engineering Charter School within the Appleton Area School District. Tesla focuses on engineering principles learned after school at FIRST and puts them into a classroom format. This unique educational opportunity motivates students as they recognize the real-world application of their knowledge. In addition to teaching Tesla, Mr. Schuff’s wife prematurely gave birth during the build season to his third child and first son: Noah. Visiting his son in the NICU before and after meetings, “Papa Schuff” remained dedicated to his 26 “kids” and 18 mentors back at FIRST. His dedication to the team amplifies the importance of FIRST to all team members. According to Jeff Newhouse, project engineer, PLEXUS Corporation “Sean has the knowledge of an eighty year-old, and the stamina of an eight year-old. He puts in more time than anybody else on the team, and yet he goes home and has a family life.”
Despite his busy life, Mr. Schuff sets his work aside for someone who comes into his office to talk. His attentive and professional audience makes it easier for mentors and students to honestly express their concerns or questions. Every opinion is important to him because they provide a different perspective of the team. This helps Mr. Schuff “see” the students who work very hard but very quiet or to settle conflicts within the team. On the other hand, when Mr. Schuff needs to address an issue with an individual, he will use more resourceful methods than normal, such as taking the programming laptop that was left out over night and asking the students where it is the next day. This helps the students understand the effects of their actions, which are not likely to be repeated. Mr. Schuff’s ability to understand and address issues helps to maintain team stability.
When he is not in his office taking care of team business, Mr. Schuff can be found working anywhere in the Tech Center. He sits with students and leads them to the solution of their problem without stating it himself. With this approach, the student understands the concept better. After the student’s discovery of the solution, Mr. Schuff is always willing to provide the resources for a follow-up project. As a lifetime learner, Mr. Schuff works with students on everything and anything, including the projects that he is not familiar with. When the solution is not apparent, Mr. Schuff and the student learn together as they methodically work through the problem. Through his involved teaching methods, Mr. Schuff sparks interest within his students, motivating them to continue their pursuit of knowledge. “When doing work for his classes, Mr. Schuff encourages us to learn independently, or with other students, and only go to him with questions if we are still struggling. I have found this to a useful process of learning in my college courses as well.” says Jenni Merkel, a NEW Apple Corps alumnus, in her remarks on Mr. Schuff
For many teachers, once the year is complete their job is done. Mr. Schuff’s talents are many and power is great. All year round, Mr. Schuff energizes the team as our coach, mentor and teacher. Mr. Schuff changes the world and makes it better through his dedication, open-communication and involved teaching methods. Through him learning is contagious and surges throughout the whole team.

As Ive said before, Team 93 would not be what it is today, had not been for Mr. Schuff. He, along with the other 25 finalists, are inspirations to us all. Congrats.

Just bringing the thread back to the surface … so far we’ve got 2 out of 26 … a good start. Keep those essays coming.

Here is the one written by team 115 MVRT students for Ted Shinta, the winner of the Silicon Valley Regional WFA. The link is here:


"MVRT 115 Woodie Flowers award essay submission.

Ted Shinta received the Woodie Flowers award at 2004 Silicon Valley Regional

Mr. Shinta’s story is about wealth, riches, and accumulating and growing assets.
However, the Mr. Shinta we are talking about has a salary below median earnings. He drives a ten-year-old white pickup truck and lives in a small apartment.
Mr. Shinta works as a teacher’s assistant, but his passion is to mentor the MVRT.
The MVRT consumes over eight hours a day, fifteen on weekends, entirely voluntarily, and requires him to sacrifice himself even beyond the members, mopping the floor for hours after all have left, just so they can finish homework. What meager pay he receives from his school job he opens to the team. We buy parts on his credit, and he only reimburses himself what the team can afford- this year alone, he donated over $2,000, a substantial part of his salary. By all common measures of status- money, time, freedom, Mr. Shinta has sacrificed everything for the team.

But Mr. Shinta is not poor- he is rich. He is rich in education, in experience. He is rich in creativity, in ingenuity. He is rich in compassion, in morality. And most importantly, Mr. Shinta is the greatest embodiment of FIRST the team knows- a model for gracious professionalism and inspiration in engineering.

Rookies, when they first enter the team, feel intimidated and discouraged by the monumental task of building a robot. But Mr. Shinta closes the gap between veteran and rookie through his inspiring lessons and energetic demonstrations. Since Mr. Shinta has joined the team, every robot has featured critical rookie-designed components. The drive train, chassis, and important mechanisms have all been, in one year or another, entrusted to rookie members inspired by Mr. Shinta.

Mr. Shinta’s teachings have extended far beyond the build. Many of his protégés have gone on to become great mentors. For example, under Mr. Shinta’s guidance, Patrick Wang grew from a shy, in-the-corner freshmen, to the designer of an elaborate elevator mechanism his sophomore year, to a renowned team president junior and senior year. Today, he passes on Mr. Shinta’s teachings as a mentor of Kehillah Robotics Team.

Mr. Shinta does not come to work each day for a paycheck, but for the robotics team that loves him. He does not wake up at five in the morning for fun, but to machine parts early so that he can supervise students in the afternoon. He does not drive out to buy falafels at midnight to catch a snack, but because vegetarian members are hungry on days when the team dinner consists of only meat entrees.

Mr. Shinta’s mentoring is also personal. He keeps track of every member’s grades, to insure that they are not falling behind in school during the build period. To help keep their grades up, Mr. Shinta sends members home early so that they can finish their homework. He even tutors them for free.
MVRT is a successful team with a great legacy, full of passionate, accomplished members. But we did not get there alone. There was Mr. Shinta to teach and guide us. Robotics is like art. Mr. Shinta hands us a full set of brushes, a beautiful palette, and a perfectly blank canvas. That is right- Mr. Shinta does not design the robot. He does not dictate the strategy. But Mr. Shinta taught us how to paint.

Again, Mr. Shinta is a rich man. He is rich with the knowledge that he made a difference in the lives of many future engineers, entrepreneurs, and scientists. He is rich with the warmth and admiration of his team. He is rich in the currency of life- love and happiness."

Mike Rush team 64/1456 Winner at the AZ regional

Team 64, The Gila Monsters, was started in 1998 by a group of General Motors engineers led by a bright young go-getter named Michael Rush. He searched for high schools willing to participate in the FIRST program that GM wanted so desperately to mentor. Mike, the leader amongst the engineers and the teachers, combined two high schools with two completely different backgrounds and made them into one focused team.

At the beginning of each build season, Mike organized engineering projects, such as a mouse trap car or the sturdiest tower of straws. He separated the team, breaking clichés within it, and focused on the importance of teamwork with strangers and friends. He also separated the team during the first week, and told them to develop ideas for their ideal robot. He, then, united the ideas and made a realistic hodgepodge out of it.

Not only was he the mastermind behind many of their innovative designs (which helped to win numerous awards), he also treated all students with equal fairness and showed them how to engineer even if that was not their forte. Mike would always lead by example; when a student would ask him how to do something, like drill a hole, he would always drop what he was doing and show the student how to drill the hole. Rather than doing a task himself, he would go out of his way to find a student to perform the task. He also taught the importance of maintaining gracious professionalism on and off the field, by always helping teams in need and by making friendships amongst the toughest competitors.

When he left the Gila Monsters to pursue his own career, he still served as a mentor to the many teams he made relationships with while on team 64. Carol Popovich, of the Arizona Regional Planning Committee, states that Mike “taught other interested FIRST volunteers how to mentor teams, thereby increasing the reach of FIRST to new teams” and personally donated to the Arizona Regional. As of this season, he put aside his personal time to devote himself to a rookie team, who seems to have a promising chance as a formidable competitor at the Arizona Regional.

Mike’s accomplishments with the Gilas were only the beginning. While on team 64, Mike spawned relationships with students and teachers that would follow him even after he left the Gilas. Mike had the special ability to inspire anyone he came in contact with. Mike’s leadership on the Gila Monsters helped inspire others to start new teams. Teams 498 and 812 were started by a teacher, Rob Maineri, from team 64 who asserts that Mike “gave students a passion for engineering and science through not only his words, but with his obvious love for the profession. I am a better mentor, teacher, team coordinator, and person because of him.” Team 1011 was started by a group of students who were particularly close to Mike and wanted to pass on his message to a new group of students.

Mike Rush is a man who has become a mentor of mentors and changed lives of students, teachers, and members in the community of FIRST. He always has time to promote the genuine spirit of FIRST. More importantly, he encourages students to learn and teach others just as he has done. Mike teaches mentoring workshops several times a year to help out new and struggling mentors from all over the southwest. As the Gila Monsters have been successful, so have the offspring of Mike’s first team. Mike will always be an outstanding mentor and an even more extraordinary teacher.

Below is the post for Joe Perrotto, team 365, WFA winner at the Philly regional:

Joe Perrotto, part of MOE from the beginning, is a driving force through the entire design and build process. He communicates what it is to be an engineer by his actions. Always in motion and described as a blur, “Action Joe” is constantly busy and makes sure that every student has a job. For MOE rookies, meeting Joe is quite an introduction to FIRST!

Joe works at the DuPont site where MOE meets, allowing time for extra interaction with students who arrive early. His office has become a hangout where Joe explains how any number of things work, such as drive trains, transmissions or even the new technologies he’s working on for DuPont. He is a tough taskmaster and stresses taking responsibility and respecting the resources provided by our sponsors. He constantly emphasizes safety, especially in the machine shop. Joe is devoted to helping us complete our tasks and stays late whenever an adult is needed.

Every fall we attend MOE University, which Joe created to teach skills and the confidence needed at the start of an intimidating build season. Joe and others teach the basics of pneumatics, motor theory, programming, project scheduling, etc. The team is in the process of making MOE U available to other teams via our web site (http://www.moe365.org/moeu.php). When we sent students to join rookie team #1495, their mentor commented that MOE University made them the only students truly ready to take on the challenge of building a robot. Joe is currently designing a robotics course to be given by the team at a local summer school.

Joe demonstrates engineering excellence by showing how to get things done on time and right the first time. We are inspired to do our best to make our contribution meet our team’s standards. One of his favorite sayings is “If it’s not within one thousandth of an inch, then it’ll get thrown out”. Rather than just showing us, he makes us do things ourselves. He gives us general instructions before setting us loose. We feel we are in control of the project, but under his guidance we’re confident we are headed in the right direction.

“Action Joe” has taught us a lot about organization of a large project. He directed the component systems modeling using cutouts for placement and fit. Using a complex checklist, he integrated sub-team efforts so that people completed their tasks in the order needed for robot assembly. Joe also directs our scouting team and leads pre-match competition team strategy sessions.

Joe is involved in every aspect of the Team’s endeavors, including our community appearances. He serves on our executive committee, and judges F.I.R.S.T. events such as off-season and Lego League competitions. He has mentored teams 316, 1370, and 1495. Pam Halter, #316 mentor, says “Joe is truly deserving of this award, always very gracious, approachable, and knowledgeable, with an upbeat personality. Many times 316 has called on MOE for help and guidance, and Joe is always eager to help, working very hard and enthusiastically.”

“Action Joe” is a cool role model who is approachable and inspires us to do nothing but our best. His enthusiasm is infectious. Once our curiosity is aroused, he then demonstrates how and why a “real” engineer goes about completing a task. He makes learning fun and encourages us to expand our educational horizons. Team 365 is proud to nominate Joseph Perrotto for the Woodie Flowers Award. He is a living example of all of FIRST’s values and qualities. Joe is a teacher, an engineer, and a slave driver rolled into one package and presented as “Action Joe”.

Ansel Butterfield, team 122, winner WFA at the VCU regional.


Here is the submission for Steve Kyramarios, WFA winner at the sacramento regional.


Roland Anderson, “Roly” if you will =P.

winning submission at the Canadian Regional, written by myself with the assistance of two or three other team 188 members, alumni from 188 as well. Thanks to Steve W for reminding us of the existence of this award way early in the season so we had a heads up for it.

Roland Anderson has served as Woburn Robotics’ main mentor and leader since our inception in 1995. An indispensable source of leadership, inspiration, and knowledge, Mr. Anderson is truly a beacon of the principles valued by FIRST. We have been a part of the FIRST Robotics Competition for six years, and through it all, Mr. Anderson has dedicated unbelievable amounts of time toward our advancement. From obtaining robot components to lending his vast knowledge to legions of new teams, it is not an exaggeration to say Mr. Anderson is the quintessence of what a FIRST mentor should be.

When Team 188 initially entered FIRST, we were nothing short of overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the experience. There existed also the additional complication of being the first and only Canadian team in the competition at the time. Yet because of Mr. Anderson’s leadership, who saw this as an interesting challenge rather than a setback, we proved our capabilities and won a Special Judge’s Award as well as numerous accolades from other teams at the Great Lakes Regional.

From day one of the build season on, we met at Mr. Anderson’s home every night, building in his garage, strategizing in his living room, and taking meals in his kitchen. Lending his tools to students who had never even picked up a screwdriver, and teaching countless others to safely use machinery, Mr. Anderson never hesitated to allow us the use of his personal shop. He and his wife, Ann, were willing to open their entire home to us and put their lives on hold for a full six weeks. This was only a small part of a huge commitment from which, even six years later, despite retirement from teaching, he has never wavered.

In addition to being a seasoned secondary school teacher and chemical engineer, Mr. Anderson is a master craftsman. The patience, careful planning, creativity and ability to translate ideas into workable solutions that he thus posesses have been an invaluable asset to the team from the very first year we were involved in all the way to the current 2004 season.

Lending his creative genius, Mr. Anderson is able to help us without fail when facing technical roadblocks; our victory in the West Michigan Regional last year would have been impossible if not for Mr. Anderson’s solution to our dilemma of how to raise our robot’s arms through a tight space. Mr. Anderson’s suggestion of a unique winch-like mechanism spawned other ideas and eventually resulted in an amalgam of theories that fused together to create a strong working component. The strength of this, we noted, lay not in the original idea that he suggested, but in the fact that he encouraged and left it up to us to ascertain the best way of implementing it. This is a very small example of how his experience as a high school teacher has proved essential to our team.

Although now retired, Mr. Anderson still balances an incredibly busy schedule dealing with the team’s involvement in the FIRST organization. Today, he continues to be looked upon as the principal guiding force of the team, and an ideal role model for students to emulate. He is respected and well-known by nearly all of the Canadian teams in FIRST, and played a pivotal role in making the FIRST Robotics Competition an international event. However, what is truly awe inspiring about Roly, as he is affectionately known, is his level-headedness and ability to provide direction to the robot’s creation at every stage from design to testing. Truly, no one embodies the spirit of what a FIRST mentor should be more than Roly Anderson.

Here is team 294’s essay. LeRoy did not win a regional, but I thought I’d still share him with you.

LeRoy Nelson joined Beach Cities Robotics in as a mentor 2001. LeRoy’s involvement in supporting others over himself epitomizes the values of FIRST. One such example was at last year’s Southern California regional competition, LeRoy donated his services to the bottom ten teams. One team even beat us in a match. Cathleen Kiritz, a mother of a sixth grader on the team said this on why LeRoy deserves this honor. “Hearing that a student was initiating an application to submit LeRoy Nelson’s name for the prestigious Woodie Flowers Award, I just nodded and thought ‘Of course! Who could be more perfect?’”

LeRoy supports BCR with time, money, materials, tools, and food.  For example, during last season when team 294 ran out of sponsor funds, he loaned the team over ten thousand dollars.  A noted attribute of LeRoy is that he is very patient in teaching team members new things.  As BCR alumni Tiffany Schlittenhart said, "When I first started in the robotics program, LeRoy started me on projects for him and always explained it in terms that I could understand."  Indeed, LeRoy’s dedication in teaching new members has proved essential in the structure of Beach Cities Robotics.  His teaching skills have made a deep impression on new members.  One team 294 middle school member, Alex Kiritz states, "LeRoy is very patient, nice and knowledgeable. I could always count on him to be at robotics to help me."  Alex’s mother, Cathleen Kiritz, said this about LeRoy.  “For a shy boy who is years younger than almost all other team members [joining the team] was a big step. LeRoy was a huge help in making Alex feel welcome.”

During the off season, LeRoy still devotes his time to team 294 and robotics.  LeRoy was essential in Beach Cities Robotics’ first effort to mentor a Lego League team.  LeRoy helped to organize the inaugural Los Angeles State Qualifier Lego League tournament.  Of LeRoy’s organizing this tournament, Cathleen Kiritz said “I had to write to say ‘Thank you BCR!’ What an inspiring sight at the inaugural Manhattan Beach Middle School FIRST Lego League Competition!  ... The organizers, which includes Team #294's LeRoy Nelson, did an extraordinary job! Every one of the 18 teams left the tournament feeling like a winner!”  Indeed, LeRoy’s efforts are very far reaching.  One such example was when LeRoy taught "how to run a robotics' summer camp" at the Southern California Regional Robotics Forum workshops.  This course impressed Carol Lowe of Eagle Robotics Team 399 so much that she made a point of telling a team 294 mentor that LeRoy Nelson "should be getting the Woodie Flowers Award" and insisted several times that team 294 submit him for the award.

LeRoy also donates time to the community.  He has been a member of the Mira Costa High School PTSA, Aquatics Boosters, Band Boosters, Technology Committee, the Leadership program, and the planning committee for the Manhattan Beach School district.  LeRoy is integral in the education of our children.

In conclusion, nobody states why LeRoy deserves this award better than Cathleen Kiritz, who said “What is most inspiring about LeRoy? It may be his kindness.  So many of these wonderful students have great minds and less than great social skills.  LeRoy seems to know just the right way to reach out while teaching so that he inspires growth and confidence.  LeRoy teaches not only concepts of engineering and physics but also helps students learn how to connect.  He is a great guy, a gifted teacher, a generous man and a fine friend. We are so lucky to have him on this team.”

Just refreshing the thread again. We have nine wonderful WFA stories to date. Keep going…

Here’s the Woodie Flowers award submission for Dave Ferreira (who won at the UTC New England Regional), written by Megan Toppa.

Team 121 would like to nominate David Anthony Ferreira for the Woodie Flowers award, for his incredible amount of dedication, determination and hard work for our team. Dave works everyday 8-5 as a construction worker and yet is at our work space every night pouring his heart and soul into this team. The dedication that he has shown to 121 is remarkable; the students are overwhelmed with his willingness to be a mentor and a leader to our team. He was one of the founding members of our team, as a student nine years ago. He learned under dedicated mentors back then, and is now continuing the tradition himself.
Dave is a very understanding person and will take the time to explain any question that the students have thoroughly and helps to expand on those ideas. This year we have had many new students join our team and he has made them all feel very welcome. “He took me aside at one of our first meetings and made sure I understood the game and our robot’s design” -Emily (121 junior). However, Emily is not the only student that he has helped along the way, “When I first came here, he said I could work on the robot everyday and not to be pushed around by the older kids”-Matt (121 sophomore). “He has taught me to use many of the tools and has led me in building the robot and in competing” -Kevin (121 senior).
Dave starts working with the students on ideas to build the robot minutes after the kickoff presentation is over. He helps us to develop the concepts and strategies for the most effective robot possible. “Dave is very open to suggestion and encourages everyone to contribute in the discussion” - Rob (121 junior). “He adds to other people’s ideas; his experience and expertise add to the quality of the robot” - Bridgette (121 sophomore). “He takes all of our sketches and ideas and begins to show us how to fabricate the necessary parts to produce the robot we have designed.” -Megan (121 senior). He encourages us to share our ideas in hopes that we can improve or expand on each other’s ideas. Dave demonstrates his leadership by letting us know of the projects that need to be completed, he then breaks us up into groups so that everything is accomplished and no one is left out.
Dave shows a never-ending supply of enthusiasm; even in the off-season Dave is busy spreading the ideals of FIRST throughout the state of Rhode Island. He believes that FIRST is a year round commitment, and he proves this by spending his off-season time joining 121 in demonstrating our robot at different events in the state.
Dave’s dedication to team 121 is surpassed by no one. He has inspired 121 to become more like a family instead of just a team. We all feel that he deserves this award more than words can describe. He has encouraged us to grow as a team and as individuals. “No one else’s dedication compares to Dave’s. We are gifted to have someone like him on our team” -Rob (121 junior). Dave has shown that a lot can be accomplished if you work hard and believe in yourself and everything that you do. Without Dave, 121 would not be what it is today; he is the weld that holds our team together.

Ten excellent stories, nine winners here so far, 17 more to go …

Congratulations to PAUL COPIOLI (Copioil to his friends at Ford) - 2004 Detroit Regional Woodie Flowers Award Winner and AWESOME MC!!! :smiley:

Will Paul be nominated next year as well? Only time will tell… :wink:

Paul!!.doc (22.5 KB)

Paul!!.doc (22.5 KB)

:smiley: Here is 131’s Woodie Flowers Award Submission for David Kelso, the BAE Regional and 2004 Woodie Flowers Award Winner!! Congrats Mr. Kelso!!! :smiley:
All people require a leader and a role model while growing up. This is especially the case for young students and teenagers maturing into adults. For some, this significant influence is a parent, athlete, or other famous person, but it is most impressive and meaningful when the guide for a student is their teacher or mentor. Mr. Kelso is that role model for FIRST participants around the country, of all ages. The admiration and respect students feel for David Kelso also resonates through other mentors involved in Science and Technology. Andy Baker, well-respected FIRST mentor of team 45, recently posted a statement on the Chief Delphi forum concerning Mr. Kelso, in which he said, “For he is the hero of many FIRSTers, myself included…]when I grow up, I wanna be like Dave.”
David J. Kelso is a science teacher at Manchester Central High School. His hands on, exciting approach to science and technology has been displayed in the classroom for 30 years. Although Mr. Kelso’s teaching style eliminated the typical classroom atmosphere, he still wanted more. In order to raise the bar of a quality educational experience, this leader got involved in FIRST and continues to cause C.H.A.O.S. eleven years later. This was trying at times considering the little engineering support and lack of corporate sponsorship.
Justin Tresvik, former member of team 147 and current employee at Autodesk, says a person has to have certain qualities to run a FIRST team, “You need someone who kids can look up to, respect, call a friend…]You need someone not just to lead the team, but to inspire the team, a Dave Kelso.” Here David Kelso’s extraordinary teaching skills are portrayed through the inclusion of the term friend. As an instructor and friend, as mentioned above, his inspiration and support reach far beyond the bounds of his own team. Andy Grady, Team 126, adds, “I have learned a lot from him and consider him to be one of my biggest influences…]”
Not limiting his resources to his team, Kelso has volunteered at events from FIRST camp and the rookie workshop to the Championship Event. He also assisted in the designing of the EDUbot learning modules. His daughter, Kristen Kelso, mentor to team 1307, notes, "At the FLL tournament, I was presented with the Young Adult Coach/ Mentor Award. I attribute my success as a mentor to my father. His enthusiasm for science and technology are his footsteps which I strive to follow.” Not going unnoticed, Mr. Kelso was honored as the eighth Unsung FIRST hero (UFH). The Chief Delphi website describes its UFHers as people that make FIRST what it is. The site states, "they exude gracious professionalism, a great mental spirit, and the fortitude that makes us all proud to be involved.”
David Kelso’s unsurpassed commitment and dedication are the driving forces behind team C.H.A.O.S., however it is the charisma and altruism that he has instilled in each of its members that has kept the C.H.A.O.S. spirit alive. Adam Laferriere, a sophomore on C.H.A.O.S., agrees by saying, “I can easily see how a leader like Mr. K would be hard to replace…]. When he leaves he will take a part of the team with him.” **

Once again Congratulations Mr. Kelso…you deserved it! :smiley:

Eleven winning entries to date, including the “biggie” along with one bonus story. Fifteen more are still out there. Don’t be shy, cut and paste it, upload it the CD whitepapers and link it here, or post it on your team website and provide the url here…

Here is the entry for Brian Buonomo from Team 871, the winner of the SBPLI Long Island Regional. (Written by Asim Chaudhry, Dave Brethel, Denise Stephenson, and Joe Capo)

 At the root of every successful robotics team there is a mentor that strives for nothing less than what is best for the team. In the case of our team, 871 of West Islip, New York, this leader is Mr. Brian Buonomo. Mr. Buonomo, or Mr. B as we call him, is the driving force behind our team. The idea to start a FIRST robotics team began in 2000 when Mr. Buonomo was informed of an event in which students from around the country construct robots and compete in a game to learn the principles of engineering. He researched the competition, realized that it was something he wanted to pursue as a mentor, and in 2002, he single handedly started our team. As the years progress, the team grows tremendously in students, mentors and sponsors because of his influence. Mr. Buonomo’s knowledge of technology and life experiences allows him to relate to all his students on a level that is not often reached by teachers.

 One of the most admirable characteristics of Mr. Buonomo, which all FIRST mentors should possess, is that he is set on having a one hundred percent student designed, built and tested robot every year. As the team leader, he employs very effective facilitation.  Mr. Buonomo leads exceptionally lively discussions, making sure each student feels comfortable to contribute.  During the design stages of the six week build season, each student is involved in the design of the robot through means of debating, analyzing, and voting on the best possible outcome for the team.  Also, any time the team faces a problem, Mr. Buonomo is there to unite the team.  He makes certain that everyone has input on deciding the necessary actions so that the team can move forward.  

 Given that Mr. Buonomo believes in an entirely student built robot, he allows the team to grow intellectually by promoting independent thought.  He takes the time to walk through complex problems or situations, step by step, to ensure the student fully understands the problem and why the solution they chose is best.  At times, to aid in the comprehension of a complex mechanism, Mr. Buonomo uses Lego’s so that all students are equally able to understand.  However, Mr. Buonomo does not only mentor his students in building a robot.  He prepares them for real life situations, by mentoring them in public speaking as well as effective leadership.  

 Effective mentoring requires open communication, one of Mr. Buonomo’s strong points.  He is considered a very approachable person which allows him to bond with his students by creating a strong foundation of trust and respect.  Students are free to discuss a myriad of issues with him because of the comfortable environment he produces.  Mr. Buonomo’s enthusiasm for science and engineering fosters the communication he sets forth within the team.  Each time a student successfully fabricates a part for the robot, or writes a functional line of programming code, he shares his infectious excitement with everyone on the team.   He constantly praises and supports students for their accomplishments, which brings his relationship with his students closer together.   

 Mr. Buonomo’s dedication to FIRST is an inspiration to our team.  Even with a new born baby in his household, he commits numerous hours after school, as well as on Saturdays.  Over the past three years, Mr. Buonomo’s mentorship has had an enormous impact on each one of his students, inspiring them to reach their goals.  This dedication that he provides is truly priceless.

Here is our Paul Roush essay… Winner of the PNW WFA from Team 360:

Paul Roush, Bellarmine Prep class of 1994, is an engineer on Team 360 and has been an integral part of the team since it started, five years ago. Paul has provided the team with an incredible amount of dedication and enthusiasm. His knowledge of engineering stems from his extensive training as a Professional Engineer. His dedication to FIRST and the community comes from his Bellarmine and college education.

Not only is Paul an engineering mentor to the team, he is an invaluable teacher for the students who make up the team. The Socratic Method, knowledge through questioning, allows us to not only understand what we are doing, but why. To accomplish this, Paul understands that some people learn by doing, others by listening; and some through effectively combining both methods. In a very non-intrusive way he shows us potential mistakes we may make, before they are made, and how we can fix them. A notable example of this is in teaching students how to take the tabs off the drill transmissions. Working in tandem, Paul will instruct the student how to remove the tabs while doing it himself. To ensure comprehension, Paul will sometimes undo what he has done, and tell the student to do it, watching carefully for mistakes with gentle corrections.

Another thing you notice about Paul is his quiet patience and sense of humor. This allows him to become close to a very demanding group of highschoolers. Not a single person on the team can ever remember hearing Paul lose his temper. At competition his patience extends so far as to allow the team’s spirit corps to put his hair in little pigtails.

There are a lot of small things around the work area that Paul does that many people do not realize the significance of. He always has a box of his own tools, nice tools, which he brings from his workplace. He allows us and instructs us how to use them in a safe and smart manner. Even Paul’s title is significant because he doesn’t insist on the moniker of Mr. Roush, we maintain a level of respect without needing to differentiate ourselves to that extent.
Paul’s efforts for the team do not solely remain in the world of engineering, however. You will find him everywhere the team needs help. For example, he shows us how to create our team signs with help from his own sign company which has donated very generously to the team because of his involvement. His help in the community goes far beyond Team 360. Paul is an active member of WETOC (Washington Engineering & Technology Outreach Committee), the FIRST Pacific Northwest planning organization which helps start new teams and keeps veteran teams running smoothly.

Paul Roush is an example of someone in a career that many of us at Team 360 are considering going into; he becomes our model of an engineer. Frequently talking about his work and current project and problems, we see applications of how things we learn in robotics can be applied in real life. Working with Paul gives our team a view of what engineering is in the professional world. Being an engineer is more than just sitting in a nice warm office crunching numbers; it is getting grease under your fingernails and putting your sweat and blood into bringing something to life. It is about embodying a project and bringing it to successful conclusion. Paul demonstrates this principle daily.

Here’s the essay submitted for Mr. John Budish, Team 537, at the Midwest Regional…

Someone once told me a story about my breakfast. More specifically, about the eggs and bacon I devoured earlier in the day. He then changed tactics and asked me what the difference was between being involved and being committed. When I looked at him with a bemused expression, attempting to find the correlation between breakfast and commitment, he told me that the chicken was involved by laying the egg; however, the pig was committed because it gave its life for the bacon. Our mentor, Mr. John Budish, is the “pig” of our Robotics team. Not only is he deeply committed, but he inspires the students to find their inner “pig”. With an encouraging smile and an optimistic attitude, Mr. Budish has led our team for the past four seasons.

In our charter season, Team 537 consisted of 12 students. Over the course of four years, our team has more than tripled in size. With this increase in students, there has been a corresponding increase in talent, as well as new challenges. Mr. Budish fosters this budding talent with creativity and dedication. He is actively involved in recruiting new members with a multitude of different strengths, including leadership, technical abilities, and problem-solving skills. Using these talents, Mr. Budish has transformed a previously mentor-based program into our current student-driven team. He communicates his aspirations to our team and allows us to interpret and act accordingly. The challenge presented with this form of interaction enables students to control the fate of our team and our success.

Last year, Mr. Budish coordinated a school-wide assembly to promote the success of our Robotics team. The excitement and passion he conveyed proved to be contagious. Students are not only more eager to participate in robotics, but are also more appreciative of the sciences. This assembly attracted many new members to our team who lacked a technical background. His ample supply of enthusiasm has also been enough to motivate teams around the state. This is demonstrated by his leading of Team 537 as the host for the Statewide Open House for four consecutive years.

For students who are new to the program, Mr. Budish is capable of communicating complex ideas through basic terminology. He continuously challenges our perspective with a non-traditional approach. At the beginning of our season, Mr. Budish led a team discussion to demonstrate how various cognitive styles can integrate. Our team was directed to separate into two groups based on creative or technical preferences. Mr. Budish then proceeded to incorporate the contributions of both groups to exhibit the interdependence needed to achieve mutual success.

Mr. Budish may not be the obvious choice for an honor traditionally granted to an engineer; however, we commend him to FIRST as our beloved and respected teacher. His passion for robotics brings out the best in his students. His easy-going, fun-loving nature makes him approachable and his students come to know him as a friend. An outsider can quickly recognize something different about this robotics program. The students are positively influenced through their experiences with Mr. Budish and Team 537.

Mr. Budish epitomizes the difference between being involved and being committed through his charismatic personality and multitude of talents. He is a dedicated teacher that connects with his students, encouraging and motivating them to achieve their greatest potential. Through open communication, Mr. Budish provides opportunities for students to take on new responsibilities within Team 537. He is the comedy relief, alleviating the tension by causing challenges to appear less daunting. His inspirational attitude is the keystone of our team’s spirit. When all is said and done, Mr. Budish brings home the bacon!

Congrats Mr. Budish!!!

Because I’m having difficulties with white papers…
This is the essay Team 71 submitted about Darrell Noble, who won the Regional Woodie Flowers award at the West Michigan Regional.

Commitment is a big part of being a FIRST mentor. No engineer is more dedicated to the success of Team Hammond than Darrell Noble. He has been mentoring Team Hammond since their inception in 1996. Employed at Beatty Machine for 39 years, Mr. Noble got involved with FIRST through his employer, Bill Beatty. Once he got involved with high school students in the FIRST program, he was completely hooked and hasn’t lost his enthusiasm.
Mr. Noble is our electrical and mechanical engineer. If a situation arises with the machine, all one needs to do is call out “electrical” and he comes to the rescue. Mr. Noble’s determination and commitment has inspired his student workers to speak up during meetings and actively participate in designing, building and maintaining award-winning robots.
While communication often drives the success of a team, Mr. Noble fuels that drive on team Hammond. He takes the time to explain complicated engineering concepts to both the rookies as well as the veterans to make sure everyone is on the same page. There is always something that needs to be done and Mr. Noble is there to take charge, assign tasks and be sure everyone understands their job.
As the build season progresses and the tension mounts, Mr. Noble, who engineered bridges during combat in the Vietnam War, is unnerved under pressure. His calm demeanor and unique sense of humor keeps the team on track while often providing much needed comic relief. This is obvious when there is a lull in the action, a student may be told to go find a “wire stretcher”, although mankind has yet to invent such a tool.
Mr. Noble is well respected among peers within Team Hammond and from those throughout the robotics community. For many years, he has made and maintained friendships with fellow mentors, engineers and students. In addition to Team Hammond, Mr. Noble has helped numerous other teams. He is the definition of Gracious Professionalism. He makes an effort to talk to the teams face-to-face and is the first to lend them spare parts. He generously shares expert knowledge and often volunteers to help other teams repair their robot, all to the benefit of the robotics community.
The adult mentors have become a close knit group. When they go out wearing Team Hammond shirts, people regularly stop and ask about our robotics program. Mr. Noble becomes the spokesman of the group and answers questions about FIRST and invites them to competitions, team events and the FIRST website. He has also worked at all the team fund-raisers, regardless of when they are. Mr. Noble believes the robotics season runs from Kick-off to the day before the next Kick-off. There are no off days when it comes to robotics.
Mr. Noble contributes to Team Hammond every year, not because of self-recognition, but because he enjoys teaching, communicating and inspiring the students. Even though he does not go out searching for fame and recognition, it always seems to find him. In 1997, Mr. Noble and the other adult mentors were honored by Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction with the Bell Ringer Award, which is the highest award given in the State of Indiana by the Department of Education.
As long as there is a Team Hammond competing in the FIRST program, all one needs to do is look in the pit and Mr. Noble will be there, leading his team and spreading the word.

Congrats again Mr. Noble!