Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Second First Robotics post

I could have titled this post "White knuckles on a white road - on my way to borrow some robot parts."

A boat load of snow fell on Ontario today making the roads very slippery and white. I had arranged to visit some other teachers about 20 km away to borrow some parts for our First robot. I had no choice. I had to go today. The team, the students - are counting on me to get them these parts. All season radials on an old minivan. I just had to go and so with my knuckles getting white from gripping the wheel I set out in the middle of the day and slipped and slid my way down the highway.

The First Robotics organization asks participants to adhere to the tenant of "Gracious Professionalism".

"Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It's a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.
With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.
In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity. -
I received a dose of this ethos today when the teacher I visited loaded me up with more and more parts saying "Here, take another, take two in case one does not work. That looks a little battered, take another." - until my arms were loaded. Thanks David. You are the best.
And how is the robot going? Well with just over a week to go we are in gentle panic mode. A couple of planning missteps and a couple of mistakes mean we need to do a lot of work in the next few days. The team is excited and with some help and insights from some sponsor and mentor engineers we have some good ideas about what to do. I'm going to put a copy of the cover of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy on the cover of our game manual binder.

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