DEWBOT VI Mentor Comments

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The shop may have been more lively that night then any other, even for being there at 1 AM and for everyone who was there being more physically and mentally exhausted then they ever have been before, or since last build season. Mixed emotions filled the air as those involved know that they are done with the with the grueling time know only as build season, but look back at it with fondness knowing that wouldn't have traded that time for anything.
*PSsstsssssttss* The sound of the pressure being released on the robot signifying that it is ready to be shipped is heard. After the last screw was in the crate a similar sound was heard, was there something wrong with the robot? Nay, it was the collective sound of the sighs of relief let out be all who were were involved. The Mentors who can now get the first good night sleep they have had in 6 weeks. The Students who know that all of this hard work will pay off, not just at the competitions but for their whole lives. The parents who can now see their sons and daughters again. And especially the husbands, wives, and girl/boy-friends of all of those involved, where when we return home we can only hope have not re-married at this point.
Build season is over but there is still much work to be done to get ready for the competitions ahead; but for tonight, we rest. To all of those involved with Team 1640, it's been a great season. I'll see you at the competitions and I'll see you at the winner stand.

Siri: A college mentor's perspective

As a high school student, I served as the team's captain-manager, pit captain, and lead mechanical and design student (among other roles). I'm currently a freshman mechanical engineering major at Penn State's Schreyer Honors College, and I made the choice to mentor for FIRST in the 2010 season. Not just any team either, but this team, which is just over a 7 hour round-trip bus ride every weekend. In the 6 years of this team's existence, I'm the first alumna/us to ever come back after the beginning on spring semester.
I considered mentoring as a high school senior, and at the time thought 'you know, I should probably take at least freshman year off from FIRST'. When push came to shove though, I came back. I haven't decided whether it was the best choice, but I certainly don't regret it. By our second and last regional, I'll have invested something like 330 hours, 4000 miles, and $650 (on bus tickets) in this season. I admit it's certainly limited my extracurricular college experience this spring--I've spent a grand total of 1 weekend on campus since mid-December. It also hasn't made studying any easier, especially with 1.5xs the minimum credit load this term (19 semester hours, 13 of them honors; minimum 12). I'm managing to maintain about a 3.9 though, and still take off Fridays and most of Thursdays for regionals. It's not easy and it might even be a mistake, but--for now, to me--it's worth it.
I don't recommend this course. Not because I don't enjoy or value it (obviously), but because I think the people who truly want and can handle it will do so themselves without any endorsement (I know I did). It takes a somewhat ridiculous level of obsession, a not understated amount of insanity, hard-won time management skills, a bed that can do without you for a few months, occasionally understanding professors, and a pocket full of ibuprofen, but if you want it, it's yours. This is something everyone needs to decide for themselves, but realize that academics have to come first. FIRST mentoring won't pay the bills.