Seeking Inspiration: Light Bulb Moments

There’s a part of us that is always waiting for a surprise or for an enlightened moment that inspires us to try something or do something. It’s been called a light bulb moment when the ‘light goes on’. What are some that you or your team has had that have inspired the team to do more or helped it develop in a way no one had thought of before, or was a simple fix for something broken?

If someone else inspired an action or change within your team or yourself, what was the inspiration and who was the source?

I have had many light bulb moments during my time in the FIRST experience.

One of the biggies was finding Chief Delphi and realizing what an amazing resource it was. It not only provided information but it provided the community that I had been searching for to help with team development. And it made me realize that I was not weird as a child growing up and wanting to take things apart and put them back together - or as an adult who likes to think.

Another big light bulb moment was first meeting Wendy Austin and then Andy Baker, who both made it very clear that it was time to jump in and get busy. That’s when I started traveling and meeting people and finding out what FIRST was all about - really. That is also when I was able to begin sharing my experiences with our team and community, helping to grow the bigger picture.

Another big moment was discovering NEMO and how that is all about building the teams that build that robots and the community. What a moment that was.

What are some of yours?


I’ll go for it, Jane. After winning the rookie all star award in 2004, 1251 then a rookie team and myself just a sophomore in high school at the time, attended Champships for the first time. We were in a divison with such teams like 67,217 and 254. I remember being in the stands and witnessing the quality of the people on these teams, plus being in a place like the Geogia Dome was a breathtaking experience in itself. Then when I saw 103 winning the championship chairmans award, hearing about the dedication of 103’s students and mentors to the FRC program, as well as witnessing the above mentioned teams compete, the light bulb went on for me. I think that whole ride back from Atlanta to South Florida, the team contiually disscussed ways to better ourselves overall.

A few years back, I had a student team member, about this time of year, who was struggling with the transition from high school to college. Among the people she sought for counsel was Jane Young, who at that time was working in Admissions for UT-T if memory serves me correctly. It was then I realized how much FRC, and CD in particular, is truly a global family.

Should we try calling them LBMs? My involvement, or really exposure, began by seeing the FIRST logo of corporate HQ in Manchester on a door in the same building as the SEE Science center. I was part of a team of Lego enthusiasts who were building a model of 1900 Manchester Millyard. I thought “I’ll have to help the FLL team in my town” when I get back. Then I discovered an up-scale suburban town with plenty of engineers and scientists that had no FLL team. “I’ll just start one,” was my reaction. Then I found out how tricky and involved it can get to displace the busy after-school lives of middle-schoolers in that aforementioned suburb. I won’t go into the gory details here, but suffice it to say that the bulb was eventually illuminated. I do not remember the year number that was, only that the FLL theme was Ocean Odyssey. Since then, quite a few of my FLL alumni have moved into FRC and beyond. I’m pretty sure they will all continue to make the world a better place.

Oh, and the topic title permits me to interject my light bulb “poster” from a year ago. This should show it to you.

My LBM is also one of my favorite memories of FIRST that I know I’ve recounted on this board more than once before. It was when the FLL kids at a championship where chanting “we love legos, yes we do, we love legos, how bout you?” This was after a long day at a venue that was out of the way for most teams. It just showed me how enthusiastic these students are and how much they will impact our future. This is what got me hooked on FLL. This is what influenced my decision to solely focus on FIRST.

I have had so many of these moments it is hard to count or remember them all. One took place just recently as my wife and I were helping a team prepare for their Chairman’s presentation. They told us that in their rookie year we picked them for our alliance and together we won the regional. They went on to tell us that now it is a team policy that whenever they have a chance to pick, one of their alliance will be a rookie. That is so cool!
One recurring moment takes place at every regional I attend. I religiously talk to every rookie team every day to fill them in on what will take place. I encourage them to speak freely with judges for an important reason, they are able to receive the Rookie All Star award and that means an opening at Champs. In many of these teams I see the potential for RAS and watch them through the weekend like a nervous parent watching a budding impresario. When one of those teams is finally announced and winds their way down to the field for their award, I like to be waiting for them to congratulate them and remind them what I had told them about the Champs slot. Every time, one or more of the mentors will smile and nod and then a few seconds later will light up knowing they just got a buy in to Champs. This is followed closely by a realization that they now have to come up with travel arrangements, money, etc.

My lightbulb moment was at my first competition of my first (and only) season as a student.

The season had been long hours, tough problems, getting drafted to work on the chairman’s essay and presentation, etc. More than once I remember becoming annoyed with a certain UPS mentor that I thought acted like he knew everything because he had drove to win 2 world championships on a pretty awesome team (He didn’t really act that way! My uninitiated high school mind didn’t realize he was teaching us :P) .

The first time I walked out of the tunnel leading into the pit I kinda stopped unconsciously and hit me. Every one of the people here just did that same grueling 6 weeks (and more). That was the moment that it clicked and I’ve been hooked ever since.

This was my sixth full year with UPS.

I’m glad I hung in there :slight_smile:

Thank you for your kind words, Mike.
I never worked in Admissions but I understood the process and how to navigate that aspect of a college website. (It can be very overwhelming for potential students and their parents.) I’m still not quite sure how I was helpful other than to listen. But, thank you. I’m glad that provided a LBM for you.