I have to put in an argument for the robot. Partially because while I was talking with Chief Delphi today about our robot, Paul, I actually heard myself utter the phrase, “Paul’s a powerhouse, if he’s driven right.” And, honestly, it probably wasn’t true. We all knew our bot was kind of a dud. Ever since we fried the grabber motor at 3:30 in the morning, the day before we shipped. But we didn’t care. We slaved over that thing like we were going to fix it and make it perfect if it kills us.
For me, it’s amazing to go into the season saying, “Okay, we’re going to try and use this kind of drive train, so let’s start making it.” We make a rough - very rough - first shot at a drive train, and then we go to kick off. After finding out about the game, we all look at each other and know we have to start all over again. And instantly, as soon as everything’s done at kick off, we’re all pulling our chairs together and sitting on the floor, discussing weekly/daily meetings and subteams and locations and how we’re going to have to completely rebuild everything we did.
It’s about thinking that you’re never going to get everything done in six weeks. That initial staring at the screen (or the people, if you’re live) and saying, “Uh-uh… ain’t no way… we’re going to get one week in and they’ll have to change the game, because no one can do it.” And then realizing, the day you ship, “Hey, we did all right. No one died and only a few fingers were cut off.” (Kidding… but you know what I mean.)
It’s about watching the parts that you fundraised for and begged for sponsorships for come together, almost kinda sorta magically in front of you and form this robot that didn’t exist six weeks before. And, at least for 393, it’s about naming the robot and realizing that machines, most of the time, need more Tender Loving Care than people do. When the robot becomes a part of your team family, your own family, and ultimately a part of yourself. That inspires you to do better.
Or, at least, when the robot (or as I referred to it yesterday when it didn’t like me, “The God-forsaken, piece of junk robot.”) that you didn’t think was possible is suddenly sitting in front of you, in all of it’s FIRST robotics glory, and you know that you made it with your own two hands, and it has become a part of you… that’s where the “I” in FIRST comes from.
((Again, at least that’s where it comes from for me.))