Monday, April 20, 2009

The D'Penguineers

So you saw pics of Emily and the kids, but this blog is all about seeing the robot and hearing all about the experience. I am going to go off a little bit just because I was so inspired by it all. I had never been to a robotics competition before now, and on top of that, my first experience was the World Championships . It was AMAZING! Amir, (my bother in law) started up a Robotics Academy at my old high school (DPHS). First off, I have to say that his part in this story is what moves me the most, let me explain: Amir used to work a desk job at a local engineering business in SB. I believe he worked there for 10 years plus or minus a few, but I think around there. After a while of doing this job he decided that he wasn't happy and he didn't want to do it anymore. He was going to give up his paycheck, go back to school, and start over. He was going to become a teacher. Now ask yourself, could you and would you do that? I would hope we all would say yes, but I know that in today's society people value money way more than happiness, and so Amir's fairytale story begins.

After getting a teaching degree he began teaching physics at DPHS, and became very popular with the students. After a few years (again I am not so sure of the time line) he decided that he wanted to bring his engineering into the classroom, and so the Robotics Academy was underway. After years of grant proposals, funding, city meetings, meeting with various big wigs, and I am sure a million other things, he was able to start up a Robotics Academy (the only one in the county). People travel from everywhere to attend this academy, and they just LOVE Amir as a teacher...he is so good! I believe he is in his third year of it all and they are ranked (and have been the last two years) amongst the highest, most prestigious teams. They have been invited to Atlanta for the World Championships two years in a row! He is truly living his dream, and it is so inspiring to me (and I know to many of you out there reading). It is just so uncommon for people to go for what they want the days, and to see them really accomplish their goals is so incredibly inspiring, it brings tears to my eyes. I am just so happy for him and all that he has accomplished, I know Emily couldn't be more proud. You rock Amir!
Ok, so onto the competition part. The game changes every year, and so each team has a certain amount of time and materials to come up with their best design and make their robot. I am not going to get into their game but if you want to look it up here is the site:

Here is DPs robot. This year they came in 2nd in their field which is HUGE, considering that the team they lost to won the entire thing. They also won the prestigious motorola quality award. (They also have won a few prestigious awards over the years but none at the championship, and none as prestigious as this.) They were told that if they were going to show off one robot to represent the tournament, this is what they would want it to look and function like. Pretty impressive huh? I have to admit, it is a pretty hot robot.
Here is the team accepting thier awards from the founders of FIRST robotics. (Dean Kamen is the short guy in the middle wearing all jean...classic for an engineer huh? Love it.The competition was so much fun to watch, I wouldn't have imagined being so into it. There are thousands of people (mostly teenagers between the ages of 14-18) cheering for a robot that they created. It is unlike any other competitive event that I have been to. I am an athlete and I understand competition, but dude, this is INTENSE. You have to see it to understand it, it is just amazing, there really is no other word for it. So that was my experience. I loved every second of it. The students were impressive, the game was smart, and the people supporting the entire event are the hero's of today. The guy who started the whole thing, Dean Kamen, is the man who invented the the Segway, the portable dialysis machine, the Independence® IBOT® 4000 Mobility System, a water purification system to provide clean drinking water to the estimated 1.1 billion people in the world, and most recently the new prosthetics arms that link to your brain and move when you think it to move. WOW! It was pretty awesome to be in a room with such a great man whose main goal is to drive these kids into becoming the creators and hope for our future...if that is not inspiring, I don't know what is.Lastly, I have to say that it was pretty neat to see some people from my past. Chase, thier robot driver, was a kid that I used to babysit when he was about 3. I also saw one of my old assistant coaches Armando Veloz who was there watching his son you remember him Katie? It was so fun catching up with them.

Anyway, here is a picture of my beautiful sister Emily who is expecting her first baby in August. She looks awesome don't you think!? I had to post a pic since nobody has seen her yet :)

Congrats D'Penguineers! I hope to see you again next year in Hotlanta!

1 comment:

coco said...

I absolutely LOVED this blog entry.....and it didn't have any kids in it (except for a cute little baby fetus that Emily is carrying)! I loved learning about the Robotics Team that Amir started when I was staying with you over spring break. Going to the website to see their robots doing their thing was awesome. Thanks for the inspiring blog--and thanks to Amir for doing such meaningful work with the kids.