“You’re our new Safety Captain,” said Matt, a tower of an upperclassman and the FIRST Robotics Competition team captain. These were the opening words of my four-year enterprise.
I had no idea what being a Safety Captain meant, but I knew I wanted to be a leader like Matt. So I focused my time on being the best. And at the end of the season, Team 706 awarded me the Rookie of the Year award for making strides in safety, introducing new safe processes, and improving from the previous years.
The following two seasons, I joined the mechanical branch of Team 706. This immersed me in the metal shop. With passion, I designed, cut, bent, screwed, soldered, and riveted our robot. More difficult, I added complex systems like conveyor belts, elevators, pressure valves, and a belt drivetrain. During competition, I diagnosed mechanical problems and initiated solutions to pneumatic leaks, parasitic battery drain, and structural concerns.
With my extensive knowledge of our robot and team, I became an ambassador to the other 50 teams at regionals. My team finished as the runner-up twice at Milwaukee and once in Cleveland–that was the first time we traveled outside the state to compete.
Then our teacher advisor quit. Robotics was over. The following meetings were quiet. Defeated, with no other teachers interested in heading our club, my club vanished. And soon, no one heard about Team 706.
During my junior year, I took action. Although it wasn’t my responsibility, I didn’t want to sit and wait. I made a list of potential teachers to head the program. However, after talking with eight teachers, I got nowhere. Then I remembered our superintendent displayed our runner-up and award plaques in his office–one of the few things decorating his pale walls. Inspiration struck. Someone still valued our team. Driven, I returned to our Technology and Engineering Education department chair. He told me there were new teachers headed to Arrowhead to fill our previous advisor’s classes. These people were fresh and open-minded. I reconvened with our mentors and team, creating hope for robotics.
“Yes,” said Mr. Christian, a new Arrowhead teacher, in August. Relieved and invigorated, I accomplished my goal. Robotics returned with Mr. Christian as the advisor. Ideas, plans and projects flashed like a strobe light geared at robotics. But, the offseason was less than a month away and Mr. Christian needed new student leaders and plans for the season.
September went quickly and productive meetings brought new freshmen and familiar faces. Mentors met privately and reported the difficulty of the decision and the number of applicants. I was up against established peers and dynamic second year members. I never felt so nervous.
“Congratulations. We would like Jacob Brewer to be Business Team Leader and Team Captain for FRC Team 706.” It was complete. This is my organization–it’s time for me to lead this team to worlds.
Continuing to improve–from Rookie of the Year to Team Captain–was a challenge. But, I reached the epitome of the robotics chain of command. After four years of hard work, dedication, extra hours outside meetings, and keeping the team alive, I am the Team Captain and Leader of Business.
I’ve set my mind to robotics since I first stepped into Arrowhead High School. Now, as I take my final steps out, I’m waiting to hear…
“Congratulations. You have been offered admissions to The Ohio State University.”
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