Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on all the great people who support and encourage Team Duct Tape members, individually and as a team. Today, a couple of TDT members visited Paul Markun at his Tampa Technik machine shop in St. Petersburg. We were treated to a look at a machine he’d designed and built for a manufacturing company. The machine cuts PVC pipe with no waste and little noise, and Mr. Markun walked students through his development and prototyping process to see how he arrived at the final product. It was an eye opening and thought provoking journey!
He also took time to talk to the team members about tool selection, care and organization, important topics we’ve been addressing at meetings.
Mr. Markun also looked over our robot and shared some thoughts and insights about our ideas for improvements. It was a great visit, and offered a terrific opportunity for realizing just how lucky we are to have so many people who care about the team’s and student members’ success.
From FLL team TechnoForce taking the time to come out and cheer us on at Robomania, to Mr. Pete Grotsky from ASME coming out to a meeting to mentor students on the interview process, to McCormick-Stevenson’s Pro/ENGINEER guidance, to organizations like EA Games and Coastal Caisson and USF opening
their doors to us, to ShurTech Brand’s wonderful donation of a boxful of Duck Tape, to the contributions of time and assistance by member families, to the generous funding provided by ASME and PTC, FTC Team Duct Tape is fortunate and grateful beyond words!
The gifts all these and many other wonderful individuals and groups have given TDT students are meaningful far beyond any competition recognition or trophies, and will last students a lifetime.
Thank you all, for all you do, and know that your gifts of time and financial support are deeply valued and appreciated!
Team Duct Tape enjoyed an instructive visit from FWCS-ASME President Pete Grotsky, of Government Programming Contracting and Management Services, who shared his insights on elements of a good interview, what a quality Engineering notebook should look like, and how a good team conducts itself. He enjoyed learning about the collaborative tools like Google Apps and Skype, that TDT employs for administrative, program management and technical needs, and getting a look at our finished practice field.
After working with Mr. Grotsky, and plying their lessons learned in a mock interview practice, team members hunkered down for an extra long build and programming meeting, stopping only for a short pizza and Mr. Bean video break.
We’ve got one more meeting before next Saturday’s competition at Hillsborough High
School, just enough time to tweak the notebook, and hopefully get some drive practice in on the practice field. If nothing else, we think the robot looks very cool! If team members keep working as seamlessly as they did yesterday, though, it’ll work as well as it looks.
Some Team Duct Tape members joined FWCS-ASME engineers for their monthly dinner meeting which, this month, featured Paul Wahnish of the Career Technical Education Foundation. Mr. Wahnish, whose work with FIRST in Florida includes the annual off-season event, Tempest ‘n Tampa and East Lake High School’s Robotics Boosters programs, gave a great overview of the importance of high quality technical education for youth.
Among the many attention getting facts and figures Mr. Wahnish shared with us were these:
- The Gates Foundation found that nearly 90% of high school drop outs had passing grades
- Barely 50% of students who enter college graduate after six years
- Students often feel disengaged by academics when they can’t see the relevance or an obvious application of theory in what they’re being taught.
And yet, he pointed out, manufacturing is big business in Florida, accounting for:
- 400,000 employees
- $35.6 Billion of Florida’s gross product
- High paying and
- Growing – with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that by 2016, the state of Florida will be seeking34,000 engineering technicians, 9,400 mechanical engineers and 43,000 industrial and manufacturing engineers.
Mr. Wahnish’s CTEF programs include Project Lead the Way efforts at schools in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties, and partnerships with companies like Coastal Caisson in Odessa, organizations like FIRST robotics, and colleges and universities like the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg College and others to bring STEM educational, apprenticeship and internship opportunities to youth throughout the area.
In closing, Mr. Wahnish asked, “Do we want to leave a legacy of change or one of status quo?”
The answer, he said, is to offer a “Footprint of Sustainability,” creating an educated populace to help meet our growing economic and competitive needs in the technology sector.
He urged ASME engineers to “take a stand and make a difference.”
And they are! FWCS-ASME president, Mr. Pete Grotsky, once again offered the organization’s support of Team Duct Tape in the 2009-10 season. McCormick Stevenson engineers, who were present at the meeting, are also supporting Team Duct Tape with their generous donation of two days worth of ProE training. And we were delighted to make the acquaintance of Mr. Bryan Kamm, of Coastal Caisson, which provides deep foundation services for the construction industry.
As always, an evening with the Florida West Coast Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers was rewarding, educationally and socially. Our enduring thanks to FWCS-ASME for always being so welcoming, encouraging and supportive of Team Duct Tape, and of all youth in the Tampa Bay area interested in science and technology.