Author: Simeon Richards

Gracious Professionalism

Gracious professionalism is a term coined by Dr. Woodie Flowers, a FIRST Distinguished Advisor. Gracious professionalism is a way of acting that emphasizes strong competition and good sportsmanship. Gracious professionalism means helping opponents when they need it. Gracious professionalism is a healthy moderation of kindness and competitiveness. It represents a large part of FIRST’s values and the behavior of participants themselves. Many, if not all speakers at FIRST events remind the teams to display gracious professionalism towards each other. Not that they need reminders, either. All the teams display very large amounts of team spirit, a desire to win, and a willingness to help anyone at all times. FIRST is one of the few places where you can find people with those traits in such large proportions. Gracious professionalism is important to learn from a young age for several reasons. First, it develops students into the kinds of people who are willing to work towards what they want without feeling entitlement. This is a very important quality to have because with gracious professionalism students are willing to try their best to win, and at the same time display good sportsmanship in the case of loss. FIRST develops the competitors into well rounded individuals with a good STEM background. These lessons learned early in life will help the students later in life when they move on to college, and eventually...

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Bells and Whistles

Of course we expected complications. We also expected unexpected complications, but somehow they still caught us by surprise. Our most recent of these particularly difficult problems is the arm. I can safely say that we are thrilled to have an arm on our robot. I can also safely say that the arm we have is far from what we were shooting for (no pun intended). Our current model works more as a navigation and terrain tool than it does a catapult. We were aiming for the high goal, (pun intended) but our high speed motor can’t even come close to producing enough torque. Because of the awkward timing and shortage of parts, we attacked this problem indirectly. We kept the motor, but added some medical tubing. This is sort of like a giant hollow rubber band. You’ve probably seen this on heavy duty slingshots. Now our robot even further resembled a catapult. Our motor still didn’t have enough tourque to make the shot. Not only that, but it couldn’t even pull back the arm against the tubing. To make this work, we tried several different positions, but to no avail. Mr. Anderson then crafted a custom gear for us. Honestly, it was sub-optimal, no offense. On the bright side, it could now make the shot with ease. The last remaining flaw was the medical tubing. Our robot couldn’t pull...

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