Miller B is a student at Sunlake High School, and a member of the Edgar Allan Ohms FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team at the Land O’ Lakes Branch Library. Like Team Duct Tape, the Ohms have benefited from the counsel and support of Paul Markun, and Miller wanted to share just how much their time with Paul has meant to his FRC team.
We’ve posted Miller’s story at Mr. Markun’s YouCaring fundraiser page, but it can be hard to see the updates there, and we wanted to make sure Miller’s story was seen by as many people as possible, to help everyone see why we all want to help Pay It Forward for Paul.
I’ve been on the Edgar Allan Ohms team for 2 years and have learned an immense amount of robotics and engineering knowledge from the mentors, with one person going so far as to allow the team to use his tools and expertise to enlighten the students.
Paul Markin has been helping the Edgar Allan Ohms team and many other FIRST teams learn and accomplish their tasks and goals for years, and he had no problem helping us when we asked for it. Paul has invited members of the Edgar Allan Ohms teams to his machine shop ever since the formation of the team, which we greatly appreciated and, quite truthfully, needed.
Back when we were in our first year in FRC, no one on our team had any experience with FRC, and our mentors had only done FTC before, so it was a complete gamble to see if we would pull it off, and Paul made the project possible. The kind of metalworking that is needed in order to build a FRC robot was completely foreign to everyone on the team, so we went to Paul’s machine shop and were able to learn about an immeasurable amount of metalworking, as well as hundreds, if not thousands of various engineering tips that are extremely helpful in working with a budget and deadline.
We had the robot concept when we first went to his machine shop, and he told us to make the robot in CAD first, which would delay us from building the robot, but we all realized that if we didn’t do this crucial step before building, then we would be wasting even more time and money on a robot that we wouldn’t even be sure would work. He has always been there for us when we needed him and even when we didn’t, as we made a battle-bot and he came all the way from St. Petersburg to Tampa to support the team, even when we didn’t need his help anymore.
All the work that Paul has done for us, such as allowing us to use his machine shop, has been free of charge to us, and when we damaged a grinder wheel, he didn’t get mad, but instead used it as a teaching lesson to all of the members of the team who were there, and then insisted that the team not pay for a new grinding wheel, and instead use that money to further our robot and education.
What I have said here are only a few of the many times that Paul has performed miracles and allowed the team go grow into a self-sustaining program that teaches kids about robotics and gets them interested in STEM related programs, and I wish that I had more words to express just how awesome and great Paul has been to many teams of the various FIRST programs, but I don’t. If I had to sum up what Paul meant to me and the Edgar Allan Ohms as a whole, then I would say: He is the reason that we even exist.
We and so many more teams have learned more than we would have ever learned if we didn’t have him there to teach us, scold us, forgive us, and guide us to a level where we are able to achieve greatness on our own, and are able to give back to the community, just like he gave to us.
Please help us all Pay It Forward for Paul by donating at YouCaring.com/PayItForward4Paul
Our 7th season brought our 7th Florida FTC State Championship opportunity, and while we had challenges on the field, our teamwork was solid, and our robot proved reliable and robust, without a single mechanical problem throughout a hard day of competition.
Our design and quality engineering spoke for itself, earning TDT the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award for an “Innovative and Creative Robot design solution” that featured “elegant design, robustness and ‘out of the box’ thinking with regard to design” that was well documented in our Engineering Notebook.
Team member Ryder Fitzpatrick was a Dean’s List sem-finalist, a new award this year recognizing “the leadership and dedication of FIRST’s most outstanding secondary school students.”
And our very favorite part of the State Championship, hands down, was our Super Mentor Paul Markun being given the Compass Award. The Compass Award recognizes an adult Coach or Mentor who has provided outstanding guidance and support for an FTC Team throughout the year. Mr. Markun has done just that for the last 7 years, and we’re so glad he was recognized for being the exemplary human being that he is!
The Rockwell Collins Innovate Award earned us a spot at the FTC South Super Regional in San Antonio in March, which is a great honor, but we’re not sure yet whether we’ll attend.
It’s been a full, exciting and successful season, and we’re very grateful to all our wonderful supporters, mentors, family and friends who make it all possible, year after year! You’re what FIRST is all about!
Thank you from the bottom of our duct tape hearts!
Hearty congratulations to all the great teams who made it to the State Championship, and best wishes to those moving on to the Super Regional:
- Inspire Award Winner, Team 6433 Neutrinos
- Inspire Award 2nd place, Team 5070 N.U.T.S.
- Winning Alliance, 1st team selected Team 5257 Eagles Robotics Xperience
- Inspire Award 3rd place, Team 7477 Super 7
- Winning Alliance, 2nd team selected Team 8909 Robo Mojo
- Finalist Alliance Captain Team, 4997 Masquerade
- Connect Award Winner Team, 5937 Renaissance Robotics
- Finalist Alliance, 1st team selected Team 6451 Tarpon Robotics
- Finalist Alliance, 2nd team selected Team 6323 The Pink Team
- Motivate Award Winner, Team 3888 Greased Lightning
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.