Zone Zeal Pool "Entry Fee"

If you read the message “Zone Zeal Pool” you will know that in order to enter the the pool, you have to submit a 100-300 word repsonse to this message. In effect, an essay is “Entry Fee” to be considered as a winner of the pool.

Here is all I am asking for: A positive message about FIRST.

Some examples:

  1. How someone in FIRST has inspired you.
  2. How team A helped team B get up and running.
  3. A positive story about a person on your team
  4. How you look at XXX differently now.
  5. How team or person XXX showed the true spirit of FIRST by doing this or that difficult thing for no reward other than that it was the right thing to do.
  6. This person or team was great because when they did thus and such or acted this way and that.

It does not have to be a story of heroism or theatrics or even particularly original. Just a simple positive message in a few sentences, as earnestly and succinctly told as you are able.

That’s it. Not too high of an entry fee, I hope. I would like to get 100’s of pool entries. The more entries we get the more fun I think it will be.


Joe J.

This is about a group of people involved with our team that has inspired me alot; At the beginning of this year our main sponsor, Quest Technologies, set certain guidelines that had to be met in order for them to sponsor us (effectively deciding if we HAD a team or not), these guidelines weren’t met, leaving the future of our team hanging in the balance, but then the FIRST Spirit took over, a girl on our team who also happens to work at Quest, heard the rumors there of them not going to sponsor us, it got around and eventually the parents found out, and one of the biggest shows of support for anything I had seen occurred. The parents got involved in everything, and it made us realize, Hey we need to do something to keep our team, we raised money, got more team members, talked to the management at Quest, did everything we thought we needed to to get them to believe in us, and once they saw what the parents had done they realized that this program couldn’t go away. Without FIRST Robotics I don’t know what I would be doing, being on the team has inspired me to do and learn some awesome new things, and I’m grateful everyday for it, and without these great people around it wouldn’t be possible.

See you all in Florida, I’m gonna win this pool lol :smiley:

This is not so much about how a single person has inspired me but how FIRST and my involvement in FIRST has inspired me to seek a career in engineering, and i know that people hear this all the time, but before i worked on this project or before i started working with engineers (i.e. Jules Scogna and Ken Wilson), i didnt know what i wanted to do. FIRST has provided me with more closure, before this experience started, about 2 years ago, i absolutely did not want to be an engineer. Now i want to help people like me, when i get older, compete in the FIRST competition so they might get the same closure i did. I know you dont have to be an engineer to inspire people but u want to be able to provide the same inspiration that maybe a teacher or adult volunteer couldn’t. I want to spread the same positive messge that our engineers have worked so hard to spread. Ken Wilson and Jules Scongna, Thank You. FIRST and Dean Kaeman, Thank You.

See you all in Nats.
Good Luck

I started FIRST when I was a junior in HS, and it immediately changed my life. I was hooked from the beggining. I got the chance to participate as a member of one of the original (then 9-year) teams, team 250. 250 hasn’t always been one of the ‘big’ FIRST teams, and they aren’t well known, but they are still a great team. Year after year, without the biggest budget, they turn out quality robots. “Home grown robots for 10 years.”

Countless students have gone through Shenendehowa HS, and while studying under Paul Kane have been inspired to become engineers. I’m proud to be one of them, because of my experiences working on the robot, and the time I spent working with Mr. Kane I am now on the engineering track. I’m a freshman at Clarkson University, and now as a mentor get the chance to give back some of what Mr. Kane taught me on team 229. Even if he is not well known (some people might remember him as the guy with the giant paper mache woodie head at nats), Mr. Kane has been with FIRST since the very beggining, and he has touched many lives through this program. I want to thank him for what he has done, and thank him for helping to make me who I am today.

Team 250 has been going through some changes lately (when is it not changing…) but I hope it will remain in FIRST for years to come. Good luck at nationals guys!

Todd Derbyshire

The FIRST Robotics Program at Bridgewater-Raynham High School has affected my life greatly.  FIRST has changed many aspects of my life, such as the way I think and my intended major.  At first, I thought the program was for all upper classmen in the National Honors Society who were planning to be engineers.  When I joined the program I found out that my perception was very wrong.  I joined the FIRST Team as a sophomore looking for something to join.  At first, I was tentative but through all of the dialogue and outreach I began to become more and more absorbed into the team.  That year I was a member of the student board which impacted me greatly.  Before being elected a member of the board I never held a leadership position.  Through this position I was able to gain and learn the leadership abilities I now possess today.  Another way FIRST impacted me my rookie year was their definition of success.  I grew up in a highly athletic household and was brought up with a competitive spirit.  When I heard the term gracious professionalism I scoffed and thought how could it be done with over six hundred teams competing for a national title?  At that event I learned more in one day then any other day of my life.  The most important lesson I take with me from that event is that winning is great, but being able to just compete is a success on its own.  When my second year on the team came around I began thinking about college and my life.  All through my academic career I excelled in my studies in History.  So heading into my college exploration I was looking into Law School. 

However, the more and more involved I became in the FIRST program I started to change my mind as I contemplated heading into the field of Engineering. Today I am happy to report that I have been accepted to Penn State University, Northeastern University, and Boston University all of which have high ranking Engineering programs.

this pertains to how 121 is always willing to help teams out. in the nyc regional we were pretty well prepared. so me and my other scouts went out to check out the other teams. we came to 713. they had a frame. thats it a frame. upon hearing this. our alumni were eager to help this team. they helped get the robot moving which was a feat during practice. they were going back and forth between our bot and thiers. then when we picked our alliance partners our third pick was packed up. we had to get them moving to. also in 2000 a team announced they need a drill motor. we more than willingly let them have one. be thankful you pit near 121. they can save your bot in tough times. just dont take our pit space.

As an educator I see students every day that just “Don’t get it”. What I am referring to is the idea of “choices” and how the choice may affect their entire future. I am a strong believer in making positive choices based upon solid information and values aimed at the good of self and society.

All to often students will come into my class ( Small Engine Repair" ) and just sit making no effort at doing the material. Their excuse is “I did not choose this class”. Welllllll… most of the time they did choose the class. No choice is a choice. They made no choice. They let their lack of interest in their education be controlled by others. They are just coasting along with no direction. A computer selected the first open slot.

I have a presentation I make to all my classes called " Do you get it". During this presentation I make many students very angry because they know I am talking about them. Others perk up, wide eyed and suddenly understand what “It” is ( not Deans invention).

I say all this because FIRST is the BEST educational influence on students our high school has seen in, well, my 30 years as an educator in Pontiac Schools. Members of the FIRST team get the opportunity to make positive choices that will change a path that was not very good. I am not saying that FIRST has “saved” our students. No. FIRST has provided positive choices that make a difference in our students, school and community.

Our FIRST team students are hard working young adults that are making a choice to explore and be inspired about science and math in a way that provides many great choices for their future. They are proud of the partnership with Delphi and all the accomplishments over the years. In our community when you speak about Pontiac Central, conversation immediatly turns to the FIRST team and how proud they are of the team.

It is very important for our students to be part of such a great program as FIRST. Ask any of them about their growth educationally since they joined the team, you will see that they made the right CHOICE.

The very first year I participated in FIRST, I joined my team because working on a team robot and taking part in the competition sounded like it would be enjoyable. My reasons were mostly selfish, and whatever the students took away from the program was a bonus. I didn’t believe that a short program meeting a few times a week for a couple of months could really have a significant impact on the students.

However, at the conclusion of my first year, a mother of one of the students on the team sent a personal letter to each and every engineer. In this letter, the mother could not express how thankful she was that her son, Tim, had been given the opportunity to join the robotic group. Tim had not been doing well in school, and his mother had feared that he was heading down a dark and dangerous path. Through the FIRST team, Tim found that he could do something he enjoyed, learn valuable lessons, and make a contribution to society all at the same time.

While I really did enjoy working on the robot and participating in the competition, the reason I return to FIRST year after year is more because I was wrong about the program not having an impact on students. Because of the short program timing, the entire FIRST program is quite intense. This intensity helps to form a group of students who may not normally spend time together into a team. This intensity also helps make the enitre experience more meaningful, and really does enable FIRST to make a lasting impression on both students looking for direction in their lives as well as students who are hoping to confirm that they are pursuing something that they will enjoy.

Kevin Weiss
Team 308 - The Monsters
TRW Automotive - Walled Lake Schools

I started FIRST as a junior in high school in 1998. This was really the first after school activity that I couldn’t wait to show up to. Finally, there was something for me to do that I enjoyed. I always knew that I wanted to be an engineer but FIRST help me learn why: the love of solving problems in a systematic way. I have been involved ever since and don’t plan to stop at any time. There are so many different levels of possible involvement. I have been able to experience a few of them as a mentored student and as a college mentor. The learning never seems to stop and that’s one of the things I love most about this program. To see the same glow on the high school students that I help mentor that I had when I first did the program is wonderful to see. I have learned to communicate my ideas better than ever before (I was always the shy quiet kid until I joined robotics). FIRST was part of my college entrance essay (and of all the college essay of my college teammates) as well as helped me get my new summer job with Perry (a division of Lockheed Martin) for this summer. I want to thank FIRST for being such a positive impact on my life.

… is the sheer audacity that Dean Kamen had when he concieved it. A man looks at a society that values entertainers and athletes more than the people who do the work, and decides to change the world.

Just like that.

There was nothing clichéd or cheesy about the way he decided to do it, either. He didn’t lobby Congress for “Be Kind to Engineers Day”, he created a grass-roots program that, even today, a little over a decade after its inception, we can already see working. The culture of sports and music and movies is becoming a culture of sports and music and movies and engineering. The biggest example of the world shifting is the Battlebots phenomenon. Granted, it’s not perfect, and doesn’t share the same core values that FIRST does, but it has engineers being interviewed like they were athletes, and that’s a step towards our goal.

I’m proud to be a part of FIRST.

This year, being both my first, and last year on the team, was simply spectacular. You learn more through the FIRST program than you learn in a year of ordinary classes. I think it is a truly wonderful hands-on program that students can really benefit from. I plan to, hopefully mentor a team one day so that I can give back to the program what it has given to me. The most extraordinary thing I remember is when I first was able to operate the robot. I did the programming work so it was the very last thing to be done. While everyone was off playing I still worked at it and I finally got to run the robot, it was a great sight. I hope others can start their own teams and learn what a great program this is…

FIRST started off for me as something a friend heard about during the annoucements one morning…so we went. Being a freshman in highschool, and trying to be “cool” i was making a lot of silly stupid decisions, a trouble maker. During one of the first meetings, going over possible designs, one of the main engineers was upset that I was being rowdy during a meeting, and asked if I even knew what was going on. I said no, and he pulled me up front in front of everyone, and broke everything down. For the next four years, there were three engineers that pulled me under their wing, explaining everything to me. One of them, I looked to as a second father. I was soo excited about engineering, and once I graduated, I knew I had to give back and do the same for someone else. This is now my 7th year(and going to be back next year), and while I’m still learning (engineering student), I’m being a mentor for others, and hoping that I have the same impact. FIRST is truely something that I live for, and am truely proud of the team I’m from, and the team I’m on now.

When I started my FIRST career in 1996, I never could have imagined the impact it could have on my life. In 1995 my brother was a freshman in high school and did “stuff” down at Nypro with this US FIRST thing. My father dragged me to the first ever regional competition against every will in me. But, I walked through that door into a small gym in New Hampshire and I have never walked away from that feeling. The ardeneline rush, the screaming fans, and the crazy thought that they had done this all themselves. From that moment on I knew it was for me. I joined up my freshman year incessently asking “Is there anything I can do?!” I never felt I couldn’t do anything because I was a freshman and female, but some others did. However, engineers like Jorge Martinez and Rick Paulino and Team Leader Dave Basiner took me in and let me question, challenge, learn and teach and change the rules of the team. I am proud now to be a mentor and to have role models like them to have learned from.

Not all superheroes wear capes… :):slight_smile:

It is very hard to pick one story, but I have to settled on something from my 1st year of FIRST.

Cleon was a great athlete and also a great kid. He was good enough to be one of the lucky kids who tried out for the limited slots we had on our FIRST team and make the cut.

During the course of the FIRST season, Cleon was had a LOT of football recruiters calling him and made several trips to major NCAA Division 1 schools to check out their football programs. When he returned from one of the trips, Cleon waved me over to him during class and asked if he could have a word with me in private in the hall.

When we got in the hallway, Cleon spoke of how conflicted he was about his choice of schools and how difficult the choice was for him to make. The bottom line was that he didn’t know what to do because his coach was telling him to go here, his parents were telling him to go there, and his freinds were telling him to do something else entirely.

Cleon then said to me, “Everybody is telling me something different. Mr. Johnson, I don’t have a single relative who has been to college: not a parent, not a brother, not an uncle or a cousin, nobody… …And they are all telling me where I should go to school! Mr. Johnson, you’ve been to college, where to do YOU think I should go?”*

Chief Delphi has gone on to win the Chairman’s Award and been a Chairman’s Award Finalist twice, we’ve finished 2nd at the Nationals, we’ve won 7 regionals, we been recognized by politicians ranging from the local dog catcher up through the President of the United States, but that moment, the moment when a student asked ME what did I think he should do, remains for me for me one of the high points of my entire FIRST experience.

For me, it was validation of the entire reason I kill myself for FIRST, generally, and Chief Delphi, especially. FIRST is not about building robots so much as it is about getting me and others like me “in the game” where we have a chance to influence the outcome, a chance for our opinions, strange as they appear to our culture, to be heard, a chance to make our ideas sound not so strange after all.

Dr. Joe

*approximate quote as close as I can recall it.

This is my first and unfortunately last year with the FIRST program. I was vaguely informed about the competition last year from a friend on team 401. From all that I could tell it sounded like an absolute snooze fest (What do you mean you make 130 pound robots, and they don’t rip each other to peices?). You see battle bots was more my thing then. I guess your wondering why I joined a team then, well it was because I was told by my mother that if I wanted to build a battlebot I must give FIRST a try first (haha very punny i know). I was really surprised, once the season got rolling, at how fun it was to build and design a robot as a team. I also love the whole “game” that is redesigned every year. I have only been to one regional so far and the excitement was overwhelming definately not a snooze fest haha. I can’t wait for nationals our bus leaves in 4 hours and I have to pack lol. Well anyway I’m off of the whole battlebots thing now and I am FIRST all the way of course it also helped my view point change as there is quite a bit of contact in this years game:) .
Mostly though I am really thankful of all the brilliant people that I have had the privelage of working with this season.

When I was first introduced to FIRST and the robotics program at my school, I took somewhat of an interest because I loved (and still do) doing math and science. When I began to hear about all the costs that went into making the robot and the fact that you received nothing if you win a regional (or the national), I failed to see why so many people on our team were sooo excited about it. This all soon changed though . . students on our team, along with the engineers slaved for weeks over a robot design that could effeciently carry out the task given. When they finally nailed down the design and put the robot together for the first time, I started to see why people were so excited about this program. The months went by and it was time for the New England regional (and my first regional, ever). I came to the competition not knowing what to expect and how we would even hold up against all these other robots that were present. The competition was stiff and we lost our first few (one or two) matches. Regardless of these losses, our team stuck together and cheered on our stage crew. It was at this point in the day that I realized that we do infact receive a prize…a prize much more valuable than any monetary sum, a prize that is given despite how well or how poorly we do: we begin to understand the value of teamwork and the desire that can be instilled within ourselves to push forward as hard as possible for the betterment of ourselves and the team. Truly a prize I can live with. We managed to come back from our losses and receive number one seed that year, but thats another story. [sorry, I am not the best at these things.]

FIRST has truely shaped my life, pointed me to my college, gave me a career to follow, and most importantly gave me some of the friends/memories.

I joined Team #21 ComBBAT as a freshman. At first I was a very quiet kid, kindof the outsider. I went to our kickoff meeting and saw how different i was from the veteran members. Afraid to be different I “forgot” to go to other team meetings then I realized people were asking why I wasn’t coming. The way they accepted me gave me cofidence. By the end of that season i was one of the most outgoing people on our team. The social difference was night and day. In the oncoming years I accepted new members the same way and have made some of the best friends anyone could have. This year I am a senior and was voted student lead, and driver. In four years i went from outcast debating on wether to join the team now you can see what has happened.

This year the team is more cohesive than ever. We do everything together. On the weekends we are at eachothers houses, at school we sit together at lunch. This bond is what has lead our team to spirit awards and the sportsmanship award this year.

Thank you for your time,
R.J. Simpson

Engineering is physics…but physics is not engineering!

I’ve got a degree in physics, I’m a member of Sigma Pi Sigma (National Honor Society for Physics), and I teach everything from Conceptual Physics to Advanced Placement Physics…

But I couldn’t begin to build a robot!!

Nothing is MASSLESS and everything has FRICTION! :stuck_out_tongue:

What I love most about FIRST is working with the engineers. I am learning more about materials and applications all the time. Often I feel like an interpreter between my students and the engineers. I fill in the steps he skipped and the formulas he used…and watch it all “click”. Priceless.

Another thing I value is the relationships born of endless hours of work and pizza! During school hours there is so much curriculum and so little time. Robotics Club has a lot of room for nonsense and silliness - the side of the kids I love!

Lisa T

There are so many amazing aspects about FIRST, that picking one to write about was challenge in itself. What I find to be the most unique aspect is how the competition always remains friendly.

FIRST may be the only venue, where there is intense competition that never leaves the field. The natural comparison is with sports. Anyone who’s been to any sort of high school sports tournament can cleary recognize this. At the end of games, teams grudgingly shake hands, and walk away with a lot of resentment for their opponents.

At FIRST competitions, it’s totally different. Not only to the teams not resent each other, rather they grow to appreciate each other. In 1998, my first competition, I was left with my jaw on the floor after the first practice day. I saw engineers leave their own teams to go and help get their future opponents up and running. They were giving out design and strategy tips. Can you really see that happening anywhere else.

I’m not sure how Dean, Woodie and company have created this wonderful atmosphere, but it’s a refreshing change from the rest of the world.

Everyone who’s down in Florida right now, should stop and take notice of the friendly environment, and think about who special it is. Kind of nice, Eh?

  • Karthik Kanagasabapathy (Go Team 188)

Amid the flashy shirts, the highly decorated robots, the giant pit displays, and energetic teams in FIRST one team quietly goes about accomplishing great things.

Midway through the build team a major work project takes away one of only two engineers on the team. Others would throw up their arms in dismay, this team keeps plugging along. A request for help draws a this engineer, alumni, several parents, and friends to help (some for just a few hours) all welcome.

Still lacking thousands of dollars, the team leader juggles classroom, family, and team responsibilities with extra fundraising calls.

Readjusting the drive train for the fifth time, working at midnight before shipping. or finishing repairs as the final staging call is announced all call for steady effort. No theatrics or panic, just a quiet sense of urgency.

Changing a mechanism from servo to pneumatics is accomplished in a display of collaboration and teamwork that is rarely seen with people who have worked together full time for years.

A team member having grade and rule violation problems meets with not one but seven adults from the team and his parents offering to help him. Other groups would have stuck to the book: “Goodbye - You knew the rules”

We laugh, smile, and have fun, but we’re unlikely to ever receive a spirit award. Our true spirit shows through in the consistent effort put forth.

This is my newly adopted team. My “enablers” for my addiction to this madness we call FIRST. From a small community that seems to be full of surprises, the team “Built On Brains”, Team 85.