So many RIT faculty, staff and alumni come together to make the FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional Competition possible. It seems once people get a taste of FIRST, they tend to find ways to remain involved.
The students love their mentors, advisors and teachers, and the sport (yes, FIRST is considered a “Varsity Sport for the Mind”) moves forward because of them. Here are a few of the movers and shakers of FIRST with some RIT connections:
When he wasn’t out front cheering on the students of Manchester-Shortsville HS – Team 1585 – Chris Brown, lab manager in CAST’s electrical, computer and telecommunications engineering technology department, was in the pit area helping the team put in final adjustments on a very successful robot. He is both an alumni of the high school (class of ’84), and returned to work as a mentor for Team 1585. When asked about him, the most unanimous and enthusiastic descriptor was “Awesome!”
Volunteer coordinators Kate Leipold, lecturer in KGCOE’s mechanical engineering department and Matt Campbell, software engineer with ITS, juggle more than 100 volunteers over the two days from judges to safety techs. Both have been leading the volunteer charge for several years. Kate is also a Woodie Flowers Award winner (a major big deal in FIRST – given by teams to stellar mentors.)
The 2013 Woodie Flowers award winner, one of the most prestigious awards given, was given to CAST alumnus Larry Lewis. And the regional director, Rick Bryant of Xerox, is a graduate of RIT’s computer science program.
Volunteers on the floor and in the pits included: Laurie DelConte, formerly of NTID Audiology, (and a big, big RIT hockey fan) and Anthony Hennig, a mechanical engineering student and representative of RIT’s Student Government.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. While the event focuses on the teens and their robots (always fascinating and interesting), the behind-the-scenes connections are equally interesting because some of the biggest fans of FIRST are among us!