Friday, March 17. 2017
Last week, we competed at the Finger Lakes Regional in RIT’s Gordon Field House. 48 other teams were attendance, including several teams from Ohio, Quebec, and (of course) New York.
A snow storm had blown through the day before, so the truck with the field didn’t arrive until late and teams couldn’t load in their robots until Thursday morning. Several of our students and mentors decided to cut their snow day short by heading over to RIT to lend the field crew a helping hand.
Thursday was the practice day, and we spent much of it doing some last minute repairs and adjustments on our robot. We had to remove our shooter in order to move our climbing mechanism underneath it. We decided to change the climber’s position from the side of the robot to the back of it because it made the robot climb at a better angle that made it much less likely to jam. We also had to switch out the code on the shooter. We had to increase the voltage to each of the shooter wheels each time they shot a fuel, so that they wouldn’t lose power and could maintain their accuracy. After all this, we snuck in a quick practice match. Usually in these matches, there are two alliances comprised of three robots each. Since it was only practice, the opposing alliance had just two robots and our alliance was only our robot. We managed to score 175 points by ourselves, which we were quite proud of.
Friday was the first day of qualifications, but before the matches even started they began by announcing the recipient of the Woodie Flowers Award. This award is presented to an outstanding mentor in the robotics competition who best leads, inspires, teaches, and empowers their team using excellent communication skills. And, well, here is how the announcement of this award went, according one of our mentors: Cynette Cavaliere.
“Wait, what just happened?
Friday morning at the Finger Lakes Regional became more than just FIRST Tiara Friday for me.
Halfway through the opening ceremonies, one of my favorite award announcements began:
“The Woodie Flowers Award celebrates effective communication in the art and science of engineering and design. Dr. William Murphy founded this prestigious award in 1996 to recognize mentors who lead, inspire and empower using excellent communication skills.”
The presenter was Eric Brewer, Penfield High School Teacher and Team 1511 Advisor. He was the recipient of the 2016 Woodie Flowers Finalist Award, and the whole team was excited that he was presenting the 2017 award.
As the description of the 2017 award winner began an anticipation rippled through the crowd. Which team would have their mentor recognized? Which student written essay would capture the hearts of the judges?
Words filter through… “this mentor believes in her work…” Yesss, it’s a woman!
“…a strong supporter of rookies…” Hmm, I love rookies!
“…she makes sure everyone has done something on the robot…” Hey, our team does that! Do other teams do that, too?
“…recycling her energy…” Wait! THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT ME! No, way! Really?
“…awarding the 2017 Finger Lakes Regional Woodie Flowers Finalist Award to Cynette Cavaliere and FRC Team 1511!”
Our team erupts and I stand there dumbfounded. I make my way down the stairs and receive a trophy (Don’t tilt it upside down, or the balls will fall out.) and a blue banner for the team. Back at the top of the stands, the team congratulates me with hugs and high fives! And a special hug for Amal, the student who orchestrated the essay!
And what of FIRST Tiara Friday? On Fridays during FIRST Regionals I follow the FIRST tradition of wearing a tiara. Now I’m holding a trophy and wearing a tiara. Many in the arena thought the two went together. Many were disappointed that I didn’t wear it on Saturday. Some teams took the tradition with them and planned on adopting it at their next event!”