IMG_1508Last week I had the opportunity to meet with some of our peeps, a group of people that the SRE team admire greatly- The FIRST Technical Advisors from the FIRST Robotics Competition or the “FTAs”.

There was about 100 people in the room, a heavy engineering crowd which should be intimidating, but these are an amazing collection of people from all over the world that come together to learn how to assemble the FIRST Robotics Competition playing field for this season- no easy task.

There was a large contingent from Michigan, who all looked so young.  Like they had just come from their SAT tests, which bodes well for the future of FIRST in Michigan.  They may be young, but they are smart and dedicated volunteers who are going to save someone’s bacon in the future, both in and out of FIRST.  You can count on that.  I hope to get to know some of these guys at the Championship in Detroit!

There were FTAs from Mexico, Israel, Canada, and other places that I probably didn’t catch onto like Turkey and Australia.  Great folks coming great distances.  I got to see a couple of the amazing folks from AndyMark who I would serve with on the road any day.  Give me any of them and I know the show will be fine.

The Kicked Ass Award is a new concept for SRE to present to the FTAs, however I have been giving to a SRE team member for the past few years.  Some of the things I think about when considering the qualities of the winner are problem solvers, positivity and people who are happy being “Behind The Scenes”.  Behind the scenes to me means that you are not craving attention of the very thanks and recognition that this award gives.

These people got to have their day opened with Derek and Frank, and then turned the floor over to me.  I had the pleasure of introducing the finalists for this award as voted on by the SRE team.  The finalists were from Arizona, Nate Lucier, from Indiana (but really all over the globe for FIRST) Jerry Budd, and Jared Olewine from San Diego.  These are great guys who also happen to be great engineers.  Not so unlike the rest of the room.  I then got to announce the winner, Mark McLeod from Long Island, New York.

Mark is such a nice person and solid trouble shooter on the road.  He doesn’t freak out.  He thinks and solves.  He also puts in his time on the Long Island committee while managing his career and family responsibilities.   He’s a total team player who is a behind the scenes guy, never looking for accolades or any extra considerations than any other volunteer.  Oh and he’s a mentor on a team too.   Amazing!

Don’t let the name fool ya’…this is an important award that recognizes the bond that the SRE team has with these important members and partners in the FIRST community.  To Nate, Jared, Jerry and Mark, congratulations on your recognition.  To all of the FTAs, on behalf of the SRE team, we respect and salute you!  Have an amazing 2018 FRC Season!!!



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