Team 4334 Chairman's Award essay

Hello everyone.

Since it’s past the submission deadline and other teams are doing it we have decided to post our Chairman’s Award essay. This essay was written by myself and a few other member of my team with some aid from Team 1114 and our school’s English teachers. Any comments are appreciated:

“There is but one degree of commitment; total.”
[RIGHT]-Arnie Sherr[/RIGHT]

Team 4334, Alberta Tech Alliance takes pride in our exemplification of dedication and commitment. This commitment has fueled our drive to be a team that exemplifies both FIRST and its mission.

The main sources of our dedication to both FIRST and the team would be our team’s attitudes of independence and self-direction. The leadership skills learned through our involvement in FIRST led to our team members playing an essential role in the creation of the Western Canada regional and 12 rookie teams, as well as being part of the regional planning committee. Our Archimedes Division win at the World Championships and our win at the Indiana Robotics Invitational show that we have just as much dedication on the field as we do off. In addition to these achievements, we won the Rookie All-Star at GTR east and have been dubbed a “True Rookie All-Star” by Karthik Kanagasabapathy, Lead Mentor of Team 1114. 

The Alberta Tech Alliance began nearly two years ago with the simple goal of creating a second FRC team in Calgary and bringing a working robot to an event. From this humble beginning we went on to being one of the five rookie teams to have made it onto the Einstein Field. While we were inwardly focused during the course of our first build season, we quickly came to realize the importance of outreach. This new focus culminated in a number of new endeavors for our team.

Our first outreach pursuits involved being featured on many local TV news stations and newspapers. The news outlets that have featured us include CBC, Global, Metro, CTV, Shaw, and Calgary Herald. These numerous segments were seen by tens of thousands, encouraging further enrollment in FIRST in Calgary. In addition to the media coverage, our team spread the word about FIRST through demonstrations at school events. For example, our school’s annual open house, where dozens of prospective high school students had a chance to see the robot and the team.  

Team 4334’s dedication to spread FIRST’s mission has lead to multiple demonstrations at events in our local area. In August of 2012 we partnered with the regional director and ran a booth at the Inglewood Sunfest, an event with over 30,000 people in attendance. This gave us the opportunity to recruit dozens of volunteers, mentors, and prospective students.  Later that year, in September, we attended the YYC Maker Faire which helped us to expose our team to hundreds of technically minded and influential people such as Jay Ingram and Rahim Sajan, a local Member of Parliament candidate. Both of these events led to over 40 people signing up to be students, mentors, and volunteers in time for the 2013 season.

The Alberta Tech Alliance has taken on numerous tasks to help teams both locally and internationally in the past year. Although we started with practically no knowledge of robotics, we quickly grew to be quite capable of helping other teams. We began helping others by releasing our robot code at the end of last year, which got over one hundred downloads.  Later that year, we began helping rookie teams in a more direct manner by teaching a programming seminar with 82 representatives from every rookie team in Alberta organized by the regional director. This created the foundation for us mentoring ten teams from Calgary through email and two teams through on-site assistance. To help teams with scouting we created desktop and Android scouting apps with over 350 combined downloads by teams in four different countries. Finally, near the end of this year’s build season we released ATAlibj, a robust robot code base. 

Since our founding, our students have had a level of independence and self-direction nearly unparalleled in the world of FIRST. Although we are aided by extremely knowledgeable mentors from SAIT and our other sponsors, the students are the true leaders on Team 4334. Since nearly all of our students come from the self-directed learning school Bishop Carroll, our team has a culture of “self-learning” that encourages students to, with the help of mentors, address their problems in an independent manner.  This attitude means that all of the team’s outreach and robot design efforts have been student led and motivated. In addition, our determined nature has led to veteran students teaching organized classes to new members in numerous fields. 

The ability to communicate on a local and community level has been a challenge for our team due to our independent attitude. We have dealt with the challenge of internal communication in numerous innovative ways. Our team uses email lists and Facebook groups to collaborate effectively on matters relating to the robot and other important topics. To facilitate fast and simple collaboration we use Dropbox to share CAD models, Google Drive to collaborate on documents, and GitHub for software version control. Our team’s external communication techniques include social media such as Facebook and Twitter, where we have gained over four hundred likes and followers combined. Additionally, on the last day of our 2013 build season we invited SAIT employees to see our 2013 robot and exposed over ten extremely local industry professionals to FIRST.

One of the main factors enabling our success is our partnership with our local polytechnic, SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology). This partnership was crucial to the creation of the team since SAIT provided the facilities and resources needed to complete our build season. In addition to materials, facilities, and machines SAIT also provided us access to mentors in fabrication, CAD, and robotics last year. This partnership has continued into our second build season with SAIT giving us a large and well equipped build space in their new building. Our partnerships extend beyond SAIT as well, with organizations and companies such as Pason, Triumph, and the Government of Alberta offering finances and mentorship. These partnerships are mutually beneficial because we have given many of our sponsors exposure through advertising on our robot and apparel.

The Alberta Tech Alliance is continually striving towards being a model for other teams to emulate through our efforts to help others and spread FIRST’s message. Furthermore, through our scouting app, appearances at public events, and mentoring of other teams we have already made a considerable impact on the FIRST community and society at large. We are ready to move past our Rookie All-Star status and become an inspiration for other teams.

That is a fantastic essay, well done.

Great essay! Can’t wait to see you at the regional.

This is an amazing essay, in terms of both content and style, especially for a second year team. Regardless of how the judging plays out, you guys have a lot to be proud of.