Tuesday, April 06, 2010
My favorite moment of FRC Las Vegas was in the pit, on Thursday. Some people were openly disappointed about the chaos, and by the difficult decisions that were made about the robot.
I thought it was beautiful.
Of course I always have loved seeing the team at work. No matter who was doing what, I always saw the team effort, the team spirit.
But Thursday was special, because it was a mess. Sort of. Depends on your attitude, I guess.
None of us is on target every day, in every moment, but we must always strive to do our best. Clearly we were not aiming for a safety award, and obviously the team did not arrive with a tested, smoothly operating machine, but I saw something else... I saw real world problems tackled with real world skills. (as a teen, I hated adults talking about "the real world" as though high school is a bubble-world, free of hardship and challenges, so know that I use this term only to emphasize that the students were not working in a bubble-world, free of hardship and challenges).
I saw students, teammates, confronted with failures and difficult choices. And the executive members of the student team chose decisively to make a major change in their strategy. I saw cooperation, intense industry, ingenuity, and teamwork under tremendous pressure. It was beautiful. They pushed. They held power tools and found parts, they improvised. They demonstrated that they know how to design and build a robot, and in a pit, away from a metal shop and breathing room... I doubt many other teams could have done the same.
I saw a team of new members and seasoned members taking initiative and risks. Agreeing to work together. When the team was making hands-on changes, adapting to the circumstances, and pushing to do better, it was the best team in Las Vegas. It's easy to say we want to inspire engineering, and we care more about learning than winning, but actually applying those beliefs in competition, and staying true to those goals is much harder when you are not winning, when things are not working as well as planned.
Thursday was It.
The goals, the visions, the capabilities of students, the groundwork set by the founding members... all of it was alive and thriving in that pit. It was truly awesome. And it worked.
I wish there were an award for students who never give up, never surrender, who stand by their decisions and their peers, in the pit and in the arena, and celebrate every loss and win, because it is all about learning and having fun. 2102 Team Paradox won that award Thursday afternoon.
What they dared to do Thursday worked. It was worthy of respect and celebration.