Driven by volunteers

Published 11:32 am Tuesday, April 8, 2014

FIRST Robotics Competition Team 456 Siege Robotics just wrapped up their fifteenth build season and competed at the Bayou Regional held in New Orleans.
For too long Team 456 has flown under the radar in our community. The potential of this program has barely begun to be realized in our community. This program is not just for a small group of students who meet at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ERDC facility. This is a program that our community can be proud of and participate in. The team is always open to volunteers, contributors and mentors to lend a hand.
During the competition 57 teams competed for six slots to advance to the finals in St. Louis. The competition is designed to showcase what the students have learned and are capable of building. Many teams were much larger than Team 456 with two to three times as many students participating. Other teams had mentors that were much more involved in the designing, building and programming of their robot than our local team.
The mentors for Team 456 are mostly U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center employees or contractors. They are capable of designing, building and programming a much more complicated and robust mechanism than the team fields. These mentors face the challenge of taking a back seat to the students and letting them learn and sometimes fail on their own. This group of dedicated men and women volunteer to spend hours upon hours teaching the team members about professionalism, the value of hard work and what it means to be part of a team along with the technical aspects of building a working robot.
Team 456 did not win the tournament, but they did walk away with valuable life lessons. They are learning to be part of something that is bigger than them, to strive to do their best, to lend a hand to others in need and that volunteering is a way to give back to their community. The mentors deserve a little recognition for their dedication to the youth of our community.
This week is volunteer week and there are many individuals who give of themselves tirelessly for the better of our community. There’s little league, football, YMCA, after school programs and many other organizations that are volunteer driven. There are many worthwhile agencies that are looking for volunteers. If you can’t volunteer then take a moment and thank someone who does. Shake their hand and let them know they are appreciated.
It takes a community effort to ensure that these programs will be successful and encourage our youth to reach for the stars for years to come.

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