While we love the robot build each year, FIRST is about a lot more than robots, and nothing brings that home more than the countless people who dedicate their time and share their expertise with students on teams everywhere.
In our case, our most dedicated mentor is Mr. Paul Markun, of Tampa Technik, in St. Petersburg. Every year we thank him profusely. But it never seems enough for all he gives, which goes so far beyond mechanical engineering guidance.
When we first called on him out of the blue, in 2008, seeking help with our rookie team, we had no idea that was the start of a special relationship and a call to excellence that would last seven years!
This year, we decided to thank Mr. Markun by nominating him for the Compass Award. The Compass Award recognizes an adult Coach or Mentor who has provided outstanding guidance and support for a team throughout the year. There’s a lot of competition out there with great Compass Award nominees from teams with a lot of amazing people who give so much to so many youth in FIRST. That’s what makes FIRST so wonderful!
But no one will ever compete for our gratitude, appreciation and respect for Mr. Paul Markun, Team Duct Tape’s Super Mentor since 2008, who will always be first in the minds and hearts of many team members and their families, whose lives he has touched, and continues to enrich, with his wisdom, insight and expertise.
Mr. Markun exemplifies Gracious Professionalism in all he does, and sets the bar high for Team Duct Members to follow his lead. It is with great warmth, friendship and appreciation that we nominate Paul Markun for the Compass Award.
One of our more entertaining projects this spring has been the 2013 Red Bull Creation challenge, in which some of our team members and mentors took part. A collaborative project of our sponsor, Learning is for Everyone, the Red Bull Creation build provides yet another avenue of creative learning for people of all ages. This year’s challenge is called “Let There Be Light!” and the competition package included addressable LED strips and a custom circuit board. RBC teams had about six weeks to “create something awesome with light”, an open-ended enough challenge that resulted in a wide variety of entries.
Our build, which we called the “Spectrapiano” gave us an opportunity to play with different technology. Working with Paul Markun, our Super Mentor from Tampa Technik, we helped fabricate an acrylic “bubble wall” around which we fastened LED lights that were activated by the piano keys being played. Our new friend and mentor, Chuck Stephens, an accomplished and artistic jack of all trades, crafted the case for the whole thing.
The whole light show was controlled by an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi, two devices we hope to continue learning more about. We also learned some cringe inducing physics of water pressure in the thin tank, coupled as it was with a lot of electronics, including a Yamaha stage piano! TDT alumni and programming mentor, Chris Willingham, did most of the programming work, with friend and fellow FIRST alumni JR Weis. They archived the and some CAD concepts in a repository on GitHub , for anyone who wants to tinker around with his or her own Spectrapiano idea.
Extra points were awarded for publicly displaying a build, so we took our “Spectrapiano” to the Land O’Lakes Branch Library’s popular Teen Night, where over 200 people were in attendance. We took Sheldon along, too, so people could play with him.
Between a light up bubble piano, a robot and an all purpose game night, the evening was a huge success! You can see our Red Bull Creation build in action in the video.
Enjoy! And Stay Creative!
TDT members are pulling out all the stops in a headlong rush to our next ROBOT League meet on Saturday, December 8 at Middleton High School. There’s a lot of ground to make up, but team members are in good spirits, with new skills falling into place with fresh understanding after their first competition.
Bennett’s making hay with the CAD, and Mark’s knocking out the programming, while Ryder, Matthew, and Joshua make short work of robot mechanical reconstruction. The team is clicking, meshing teamwork gears as nicely as robot gears. Feeling festive in the fine early winter Florida weather, everyone got in a hot chocolate break and in a mellow moment, collectively decided to name this year’s robot – Sheldon!
Why? Why not?!
Tomorrow night, team members head over to Suncoast Chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers meeting, to showcase their work and speak with SME members about this year’s design and build process and the team’s FIRST competition
experiences so far.
Saturday, TDT meets at Super Mentor Paul Markun’s Tampa Technik shop, and Sunday, some team members will be volunteering at Learning is for Everyone’s TEDxYouth@TampaBay 2012 event – where they’ll get to hear former FRC student and current UCF Marketing studies senior, Tim Arnold, who also describes himself as an”innovator and disruptor”, as well as other great young presenters – while others will be meeting for drive practice.
It’s a whirlwind week, but Team members – and Sheldon! – are up to it!