I have to tell you that I couldn't be prouder of this group of kids on the team this year. ACME Robotics is in it's third year, and I've have been fortunate to watch the team grow up over the last three years and mature into a real contender this season. Along the way, these kids have learned so much about themselves and working as a team. Oh yeah, and a little bit about how to build a competitive robot...
I love FIRST primarily because of how it's organized to teach the kids about life skills and how to be successful in life (and business) while doing it in the context of a fun, engaging activity like robotics. When I hear complaints from the team member that "there isn't enough time to get that done...", I remind them that this is exactly what working on a real life project is like. You'll never have enough time, materials and money to do exactly what you want, so you need to figure out how to compromise to make the best that you can with the resources you have by a specific date.
FIRST Robotics is now my favorite sport.
We are now at a point in the season that we've never been before. We're headed to the FIRST FTC Western Region Championships in a few weeks. But I have a lot of confidence in this team this season. They are now steely veterans. We have a few things to polish before we head to Tacoma, but I know that we'll be ready.
I wanted to extend a shout out to my fellow mentor and coach Michael Lewis, who joined us late last season and is finishing his rookie season as a mentor. Michael brings a different set of skills and engineering experience to the team, and I think that our success this season is a result of his influence and leadership. In fact, FIRST robotics is so infectious that Michael's wife Stephanie Lewis has decided to join us on the mentor team, and help us prepare for the next level of competition. Stephanie is a powerhouse on her own as she mentors the local Girls Who Code Nevada County Club.
I also want to extend a huge hug to all of our sponsors this season, because we couldn't have done this with out them. We're an independent team and therefore we don't receive any money from any school.
Three people who especially stand out are Gary Apple, Dan Castles and Tyler Green. We're fortunate to have Gary Apple as a friend of the team. Gary is a retired engineer and artist who built (and sold) a highly successful business. I couldn't think of a better role model to engage with the kids than Gary. Gary has been more than gracious in extending help, time and the use of his incredible machine shop to help us implement the kids design for custom parts which were beyond their skill set to build. Gary is patient and an excellent teacher. Thank you Gary!
Dan Castles has been a supporter since day one. With the excitement of the past week, and our advancement to the Western Regionals, Dan and the employees at Telestream have once again dug deep to help support us monetarily in getting to the next level. Thanks once again to Dan and everyone at Telestream for your unwavering support. You guys rock!
A new friend of the team this season is Tyler Green. Tyler is a long time friend of Michael Lewis, and Tyler is also an engineer at Autometrix (one of our sponsors). Tyler has gone above and beyond this season to help us. He donated the use and materials on his personal 3D printer to help print our custom particle launcher wheels, just in time for the NorCal Championships last weekend. The new launcher wheel design is a key part of what made the robot competitive. Thank you Tyler for supporting the team.
In conclusion, I want to throw this out there: If you are a local engineer, skilled machinist or electronics/computer guru who'd like to inspire some amazing kids, then I'd like to challenge you to consider joining us next season on the ACME Robotics mentor team. To learn more, reach out to me: mike.oitzman AT gmail.com
I am also in the early stages of creating a non-profit organization with the mission of funding and supporting local FIRST robotics teams in Nevada County. I am looking for motivated individuals to join the board. The organization is called STEAM Engine. If you are interested in supporting the growth of robotics in Nevada County, please reach out to me.