Read the story of FIRST New York City teams showing Gracious Professionalism.
Time - Feb 12, 2018 at 10:49 AM
Email - “I hope this message finds you well. Unfortunately this past weekend the team hit a wall. I really don't see any possible way for us to have a working robot by the [February] 20th.”
Upon receiving this email, an invisibly cold sweat ran down my back. We had been receiving concerned emails from the lead mentor about their uncertain status of the team and had set up a meeting to visit the team in person. We figured it was because they were rookies and somehow got overwhelmed by seeing other teams and with all the tasks to complete within the six weeks. But when we received the email a week from stop build day we told ourselves that it was too late to turn back, too late to give up. We were scheduled to meet them the same day. We called and called for a response, we had to make sure our visit was still on.
I made it my mission that I would not let this rookie team come so far and give up right before the finish line.
Without a moment of hesitation, I reached out to the team that helped me and my rookie team three years ago. They took my offer to help the rookies in a heartbeat.
Later that evening, my fellow VISTA, Philip and I took a trip to their after school club. There we learned how small their team was. The team consisted of mostly ninth graders with zero experience in engineering or robotics. The robotics lab was merely a space in the basement of the clubhouse with no actual tools. Luckily, they had an assistant coach who is an alumni from FRC team 1880. However, due to his schedule he was only able to spend limited amount of time mentoring the team. I talked to the lead coach and assured her until she had built a trust on me, on her team, and on FIRST New York City.
“Even if it is just a basic robot with forward and backward movement, we want your team to try your best,” as I kept repeating it to the coach.
Coming from a rookie team with similar struggles, I understood the pain of the coach. During our first year, we did not own a single drill machine or a handsaw. But, we pushed through. We asked our teachers and family. Finally, a veteran team 1796 offered us help. It was not easy. We had to travel to their school for space and tools to build the robot after school. We had a handful of three consistent students. Our robot still was not perfect; it could barely move and throw things.
The very next morning, Philip had sent out an urgent blast email to all of the teams in New York City asking for help. We had an overwhelming amount of mentors reaching out to us, offering help. We were pleasantly surprised by all of the responses. Here are a few:
“You could come to our school, we would be able to assist your team with our facilities along with students who can work with your team to get your robot up and running.”
Another mentor wrote, “What time does your team usually meet? Depending on schedule I could stop by to see what I can help with.”