Chairman’s Essay

The team has successfully completed the 2019 Chairman’s Essay! This year we wrote about many of our outreach events such as the NASA In The Park event, The Brickapalooza, and many other events we participated in.

Here is a copy of our essay.

Team 5858, the Golden Hurricanes, is a fourth-year team that seeks to enhance students’ experiences by working within the FIRST framework to live up to the team motto of  “Collaborate, Innovate, Motivate”. The team has grown exponentially since its rookie year and still holds true to their motto. The team has many strengths which are apparent in the easiest and toughest of situations. These are their adaptability, diversity, organization, financial approach, community involvement, and the impact on themselves, others, and FIRST.

Team 5858 originally began as a FIRST Tech Challenge team, and was for about three years before their fourth and last season, 2015-2016. As the team returned from winter break in the new 2016 year, they received news that the team was registered to be a FRC team and kickoff was that Saturday. At Kickoff, the team discovered just how different FTC and FRC are. With the help of amazing mentors from NASA, Hudson Alpha, UAH, and Team 3959 MechTech, the team quickly grew accustomed to the challenges and went to the first Rocket City Regional in Huntsville, Alabama.  Even though they did not place very high, the members enjoyed themselves, made connections with fellow teams, and made lasting memories and impressions. At the closing ceremonies, the team was ecstatic to learn that they were awarded the Rookie All-Star Award through a unanimous decision. The team’s ability to quickly adapt to new and harder challenge set the basis for the future team and its activities.

The female leads and diversity make their team stand out. Three out of the four team leads are females who have been on the team for two, three and four years respectively. The Business, Code, and Creative teams are managed by these ladies. Their ideas and persistence during and outside of team meetings and build season motivate the members of their teams to work harder, smarter, and overall to be better people. Diversity is another important part of the team. There are members from multiple cultures and races such as Hispanic, Caucasian, and African American. However, the diversity does not stop there. Many members of the team are a part of the LGBT community. This diversity brings color and excitement to the team as each member shares something special about their culture and being with everyone else.

The team works hard and tirelessly to motivate those around them to always put their best foot forward. To better accomplish this, the team is organized into four amazing groups to  spearhead operations.The Business Team collaborates with team leads and deputies to create a budget to allocate funds, manage scope, and to plan activities. Because of their plans to avoid past failures; creative and innovative ways to achieve successes appear. The Code Team takes those plans and runs with them as they motivate others to push past their limits. Their multitasking is both innovative and inspiring as they seem to be in two places at once to code and wire electronics. The Build Team can’t be ignored either as they constantly strive to take the ideas of the other teams, and their own, and make them a reality. Though the process is long and arduous, their solutions to generate functionality have proven to be successful. The Creative Services Team is last, but definitely not least, as they create the face of the team. With their analytical attention to detail in not only themselves but other teams as well, they enhance everything about the team as a whole.

Of the team’s many strengths, how they handle finances is towards the top of the list. The team is completely donation based, meaning all the funding comes from sponsorships or donations. Because of this, no member pays a fee to be part of the team, which in turn removes economic barriers and gives every member the chance to enhance their knowledge and forge a future of their choosing. Having many generous sponsors affects the team greatly as many of the teams and clubs offered at the team’s host school require a fee, and thus do not have as many members as they would like. Having no fee means that the robotics team is open to everyone, no matter where they come from or what their situation is. This also aids in the growth of the team. As more members join, the team becomes stronger, and in turn the stronger our relationship with sponsors, old and new, becomes. This also also allows each individual student to attend competition, and therefore experience the full FIRST experience. Finally, each member receives all the materials needed to complete the tasks set before them. The team is thankful to all of their sponsors for granting them such a great opportunity to enhance their lives, their world, and the world of FIRST.

The team has worked hard to spread its presence and community involvement. This has been one of the teams strengths. It has been a slow process, but a fruitful one as they started from inside of their school and worked their way out. After many outreach events within the school, the team grew from nine members to almost twenty. They also received more mentors along with more chances to enhance their skills and the team.  They have always been adaptable and have maintained a growth trend over the years. Every year has been similar to the last in terms of gaining mentors, members, items to enhance our building abilities, and opportunities. Each year however has its own ups, downs, and lasting memories. In terms of internal community events the team has set up booths for club expos at the school, where they talked about the team. They did a similar event on International Baccalaureate night with the usual booth set up, meet and greet, and demonstration. Although they did not get as many new members as they hoped, they enjoyed getting to meet with new people and are grateful to the new members they did receive and to their parents who were a welcome change in pace as they were more amenable to the idea of FIRST than anyone.

In terms of external community events, they hosted their second FLL qualifier this year. It was actually two qualifiers taking place at the exact same time. They were able to run the event smoothly, thanks to over 40 excellent volunteers. With over 250 people and 22 teams in attendance, coming from all over Alabama, the event was a success. The FLL teams were excited to attend, learn, and enhance their abilities through competition. The host team’s members and the volunteers, learned valuable skills that they took back to their lives and own teams. Another amazing external event was the booth at a local minor league hockey game. Our Havoc Night was a big success. Approximately 6,150 people who were in attendance had the opportunity to see our robotics team booth near the front entrance and members handing out flyers about FIRST and its impact. Since it was a kids-themed night, many there were excited to see the booth, pictures of the robot, and Roomba robots were around the booth. This outreach was directed towards getting people of Huntsville interested in FIRST robotics, and by the end of the event, many said that they were going to mentor or enroll their kids on a team!

One of the team’s favorite external outreach events was attending NASA in the Park over the summer. NASA in the Park is an event hosted by NASA that takes place in Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville. Companies, groups, robotics teams, and people of the community come to the park to get a glimpse at what innovations are being developed in the city. The team’s booth included last year’s robot, information about the team, and videos of their matches. Many people came to the booth and were told all about FIRST robotics and about their individual team. This created more interest in FIRST and lead to their team, and many others, having new mentors and members. NASA in the park is an amazing experience and a great chance to get to meet new people and learn all about what Huntsville has to offer and in turn spread any message an organization such as ours is championing.

FIRST has had an amazing impact on all the team members, current and graduated. Every member joined the team unsure of where they would fit in or what role they would occupy, but since then they have grown to become strong leaders, speakers, motivators and valuable members. FIRST has influenced their students in many ways. FIRST has given amazing chances for college in ways such as their scholarships and the prestige that comes with being on a FIRST team. For example their major sponsor NASA, has offered many members internships during high school summer breaks. Colleges that their students have applied for jump at the opportunity to accept a FIRST student. Seventy-five percent of the team’s graduated members, and over half of the members on the team now, have decided their career based on being on the team. Over half have decided that once they graduate college they want to work with FIRST, either as a mentor to a team or for the company itself. In conclusion, FIRST and the team’s sponsors, especially NASA, have helped the team develop strengths and skills to advance themselves, their community, and their world. Without FIRST’s impact, the team would not have been shaped to be who they are and who they will become. Their experiences with FIRST have shaped the events and challenges the team will tackle next in their lives. They are very grateful to be part of such an amazing program and hope that they can continue to influence more people to join in on the FIRST experience and all it has to offer. Being a part of FIRST is a unique opportunity that not everyone gets to enjoy. The team is very grateful to everyone that has aided them in the past and will aid them in the future to become such a great team and to use the message of FIRST to create a measurable impact in their community.