This goes hand in hand with the fact that only 20% of teams nominate someone for the Woodie Flowers Award. This number needs to be much higher. A realistic goal for next year could be 50%. I will start a new thread on this.
Many people recognize the importance of awards like the Woodie Flowers Award and the Unsung FIRST Heroes Award. UFH is acknowledged by FIRST, and even received mention in David Kelso’s winning description for the WFA this past year. Most people will tell you that the UFH is a worthy award, something that is needed in the FIRST community.
Let me give you some facts. Since UFH’s inception, we have honored 23 UFH’s, 25 regional WFA winners, and all 8 of the standing WFA winners (David Kelso falls in all of these categories).
However, more UFH trivia that you folks don’t see behind the scenes:
In the months of Sept. and Oct. this year, only one person was honored each month. Both were written by members of the UFH Committee.
In the first month UFH was around, we brought in 22 nominations alone.
Total, we have received 83 nominations. We received an additional 18 at this year’s IRI.
Of those 83 nominations, around 13-15 were repeated nominations. As you all may know, the Committee does not judge based on quantity, but on quality. Quantity has no effect on the judging process, lest one nomination better the other.
Of those remaining 68, 17 of them did not make it through the first voting process.
The Committee is not working with substantial numbers. There is a group of 10 people, ranging all over the FIRST community, to help with the marketing, the voting, and the upholding of UFH. Lately, we have had such a slump in nominations, the Committee has mainly been working on marketing.
If it had not been for the IRI Award this year and the amount of submissions we received, UFH would not last through the end of the year. It is solely on the Committee’s decision to use those nominations (and judge them the same way as electronic nominations) that is keeping our award afloat.
A few common misconceptions and myths:
you may only nominate your own mentor
the committee only awards people they know
the committee denies nominations from people they don’t like
the committee has a ton of quality nominations to choose from
I don’t need to submit, because someone else on my team will/already has
This is more than a sarcastic thread asking for nominations, it’s a plea for help.
As much as I respect my mentors and really like the things they do, I have to admit that in comparison to some of the UFHs there’s a bit of intimidation. Sure, I shouldn’t let it get to me that people like JVN and Scott and Libbie Ritchie have won, but it’s hard to nominate someone that doesn’t seem to shine so bright in comparison. How do you expect people to stand in the limelight when they don’t seem to have as many accomplishments?
That should not stop anyone from nominating a mentor for UFH…UFH’s are not judged in comparison to the previous honoree’s accomplishments. They are judged on what they have done, how they have affected you or your team, and how well you can communicate what they mean to you. Don’t worry about JVN or other people like that, or what they have done…the last thing they want to do is discourage people from nominating others…
The UFH is a great thing for FIRST and needs people to nominate mentors. There are so many out there that deserve recognition and do not get it. I bet every team has at least one great mentor they can write about, proabably more. It doesn’t take that much time, and great mentors are definetley worth it, so nominate someone!!!
I feel if a mentor can manage a team successfully for one year, that by itself is a big accomplishment. It’s kinda easy for us kids to take them for granted, because we don’t have to go through the trouble they do. This is no attack to you in any way, you know better about your mentor…
I come from a family with vast business(small and big) experience, so I have always been a helping hand. When I think of it in terms of a FIRST team, there is not a much of a difference, both take substantial amount of work and dedication, and anybody willing to put in so much effort should be rewarded and recognized in one way or the other. Moreover, isn’t it human nature that if you’re recognized/awarded for doing something, then you wanna do more. And most mentors do more than whats required, making our life(students) easier. If I had to look at my team, the person who puts in the greatest amount of work is our head coach(WayneC.). Who sits up late nights preparing for Brunswick eruption, plans team financial issues, weekly meeting plannings, general school work, personal life stuff, deals with stinking attitudes of kids and other people in order to keep the team going. It’s just incredible.
I can’t thank them by buying them a mercedes or so, but at least I can nominate them for awards like UFH and WFA.
Any mentor that inspires their students is eligible to be a UFH.
The rest is for the UFH Committee to decide. But really, if I saw a student who was very fired up and enthusiastic about this program, and showed me effectively, in a well-written essay exactly how they felt…
The Unsung FIRST Heroes program is for PERSONAL heroes. It’s an award for those who haven’t been previously honored. I always hear students talking about their mentors, but what do they do to show them the influence they’ve had on their life?
What about a fellow student? A parent on the team? An engineer from a sponsor?
Anyone is eligible. Nominate your heroes. Leave the judging to us.
May I suggest that you might want to think about this a little differently? Don’t think of the UFH nomination process (and other awards, particularly the WFA), as open only to those that have been with the program for 147 years, worked with 2,398 teams, volunteered at 312 events, and have their entire home decorated with FIRST memorabilia. To me, the perfect UFH is someone that may do things “on a smaller scale” but does them in an incredibly effective or personal manner.
Consider these two options. First, you have some executive who has enough authority that with just five minutes of effort they can get their multi-bazillion-dollar organization to write a check to FIRST (for a huge amount to FIRST, but 0.00023% of the company’s gross annual budget). Second, you have the dedicated engineer or teacher that pours their soul into reaching just that one student on the team that really needs to be inspired. While I recognize the value of the contributions of the former, I am much more impressed by, and appreciative of, the deeds of the latter.
We have all seen it happen. Every team seems to have at least one of “those” students. You know - the one with no social skills, the perpetual outcast, the one who has never dealt with an adult as a peer, who spends most of the time sitting around just waiting for the team meeting to be over. But then that one mentor finds a way to break through and show that they really do give a crap, and everything changes.
Sometimes the mentor is just the first one in a long time to talk to them like a grown-up without being demeaning or condescending. Or maybe they just ask “hey, would you help me with this for a minute” and that is enough to get them to start to understand “I can do this too!” Or maybe the mentor assigns a significant responsibility to a student that doesn’t know they are ready for it yet, and let’s them learn their capabilities through a forced experience. Or just offers a few life lessons about why certain things happen, against the backdrop of working on a robot. Or sometimes it may take six months of constant bad jokes, shared junk food, and talk about old muscle cars and hair bands to gain a little respect. But all of a sudden two years have passed, and that student is now the captain of the team and is coming to the mentor to say “you know, that one kid over there really needs some help…”
A great mentor guides without giving the answers, teaches through discovery, demonstrates without lecturing, provides support from backstage, observes without hovering, and leads by example. If you can find someone that can do this successfully with even one or two students a year, then you have a mentor of heroic proportions.
A good engineer can calculate Fast Fourier Transforms on a table napkin, or have the kinematic singularity probability in joint-space for a R-P-R-R-P-R-Y manipulator memorized, or know that the velocity of sound on Mars is 260m/sec. But a mentor will help you discover that finding the answers to silly things like that can be its’ own reward, while in the background simultaneously filling out the paperwork required to keep the team running. That is what being a great mentor is all about. And those are the sorts of people that you should be nominating for UFH.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a lot harder to notice the small accomplishments when you’re overwhelmed with big ones. But, I have to admit that now UFH’s are in a whole new light for me. Thanks for everyone’s explanations and helpful hints
i am going to nominate my old mentor. But his national gaurd unit went active. Our new mentor is a witch, she is only there because it is in the job description at the school. She complains about not getting paid. Any refuses to let us get to work, while she BS’s with the other teachers who have off that period. The seniors in the class are a month behind on the tests and demos for the freshman. Unfortunitly we are not alowed to find another mentor, so the during the build season, the seniors (myself and another guy) will be taking the bot home to his neighbors shop, since our current mentor locks the door the second the final bell rings.
I hate to do this, but most of what you’ve just wrote isn’t Gracious Professionalism. You might not like your new advisor, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t doing SOMETHING good. Frankly, if you should discuss anything about your team talk about why you’re nominating your mentor and the amazing qualities he’s brought to your team.
Try looking for the good, dig deep if you have to. But there’s good in every FIRST person I’ve ever met. This goes for your new advisor too. Don’t give up hope yet, sometimes it takes longer than expected to get settled and work out all the kinks.
Ever since I first heard about UFH i thought that it was a great idea. Since then I have nominated several people. I feel like its just one of the many things I can do to give back to these people that have changed my life so much since I got involved in this program. I encourage everyone to nominate someone you think is special and has done something great, even if its just something great for your team, its the least you can do to simply say thanks to these great individuals.
That not only is what a great mentor is, it is also what FIRST is all about. Too many teams put the emphasis on winning on the field of competition. Our belief is to have the students win. When the one student has reached the point where they believe they can do it and be good at it, and we have had many students reach that point, all of the ‘stuff’ we go through as mentors is worth the challenge. And you students do challenge us everyday, all the time making us better.
While writing a paper I found a good definition of what a mentor should be:
“Mentors provide two primary functions to protégés: (a) psychosocial support, in which they act as role models, provide acceptance, and confirm the protégé’s behavior, and (b) career development (vocational) support, in which they act as coaches to the protégé, protect the protégé from adverse organizational forces, provide challenging assignments, sponsor advancement, and foster positive exposure and visibility.”
Yea, it’s a dry definition compared to Dave’s inspiring description, but it’s a basic guideline for students who are thinking of people to nominate for UFH.