26 January 2009

Week 4

We're in the second half of the game... almost crunch-mode, but not quite yet.

The chassis has been completed and ready for motoring-up. Software has been going forward with coding and have a good handle on the traction- and inertial-control systems. Waiting for parts now, that should be delivered this week. Making parts in preparation for the delivery of the conveyor-specific order to arrive.

I am getting more short with the team too, and that's not something I am happy about. I find that the years on the team are getting to me; things like losing NEW tools, not 4 weeks old are more than just an annoyance. Things like the same students asking the same questions over and over again are more than just a nuisance. The same students who can't find ANYTHING, unless it's directly under their noses. Different students constantly asking "where's the " or "what do I do now?" Captains who are not leading. Students who can't seem to remember what they were just doing, not 10 minutes prior.

The weather people are predicting another major snowfall that will more than likely take out Wednesday's meeting. That's the break I think I need.

Then there's the shop teacher. What a piece of work.

Tuesday night, several frame parts were welded and left to cool by the rear door. We forgot all about them. The next morning, they were discovered, and discarded. It was pretty clear that the parts were not scrap, but the shop teacher either discarded them himself or directed one of the students to do so. We wasted several hours on the evening of 21-Jan looking for them. It wasn't until Friday that the truth was revealed. By then we had re-manufactured the missing parts, costing us time and money.

I want all who may read this to know what an unprofessional this particular teacher is, to willingly discard the efforts of students because of his ego. He is employed by the Merrimack School District as a teacher. However, his recent willful disregard for the students on the FIRST team clearly demonstrate that he is the epitome of everything that is wrong with the tenure system every "educator" in the public school system is protected by.

This incident is one of many, on going efforts on his part that will not go unreported.

20 January 2009

Week 3

Things are indeed different this season. What I had hoped for, and what appeared to be happening, has not transpired.

It seems as though the energy that was so apparent earlier has gone away, the people who were once thought to be the new blood, have anemia. The ones who are new, are, however, showing promise.

And the ones who were on the event horizon of stellar performance have imploded.

A set of events have been taking place for a while now, and have seemingly reached a point of no return. One student, a student in need of guidance and who was once showing signs of progress, has gone astray. Things have gotten out of hand, his relationship with the mechanical team lead have deteriorated to the point of name-calling on his part. His attitude has become belligerent to his fellow teammates and even to the faculty advisor who was working so hard at making his presence on the team necessary. All that has been cast aside by him, and all came to a head last night. As a result of the verbal outbursts and other examples of disrespect, he has been removed from the team roster.

I am sick to my stomach over this. He was one of the team members most familiar with the shop operations and had the potential of being the team's lead student machinist. Now, he's gone, not only physically, but spiritually. I don't expect any good to come of his future, and would not be surprised if he dropped out of school.

What deeply concerns me is his propensity to uncontrolled behavior. While there had been no indication of physical manifestation, that doesn't mean it won't happen.

14 January 2009

Week 2

Something's not right. The enthusiasm that T166 displayed last week is waning, at least it seems so when looking at the progress being made.

For example, one of the rookies, present on Saturday when one of the members' father was explaining control systems, feedback loops and how everything works, not only didn't remember what was said, but didn't even remember being in the room.

Certain leads don't seem to have the commitment to come to strategic design meetings, and even going so far as to be less than truthful about their whereabouts.

We're already a week behind schedule, a place we were not at last year until finals week. What's going to happen then??

Tonight is a mandatory meeting with the Mech/ProE team...

We'll see how things play out...

06 January 2009

Week1 starts...

This year was the first time we witnessed the game revelation at MHS and was a success. Parents and team members watched a NASA live webcast on the big screen in the little theatre. Everything worked well.

Day 1 was spent understanding the game play rules and started just after the webcast ended. Not much in the form of deep understanding of the game, but at least everyone started out on the same level.

After lunch, Mr. Reich presented a session on brainstorming and how Segway does it. Pretty good stuff. Not that I am unable to be creative, I did find that I am more of an "execution" person, as is Ron.

I was unable to spend time with the troops on Sunday, as I was attempting to assemble a game play component... the trailer.

Don's back and now can spend more, regular, time with the team and I've asked that he watch over the shop. Per's back too, and was present last night. Cameron has returned as well and I've asked that she look after the CM team. Having someone advising that key group should make the build a little easier than last year. Less time hunting for parts and supplies and more time actually doing things productive.

The "ideation" crew came up with a slew of ideas and under Ron's direction, condensed them into two basic ideas that would be the focus of prototyping and will continue tonight.

I got to sit and watch everything happening, not up-close-and-personal, but from a slight distance. What I saw was a light atmosphere, the room was buzzing with independent conversations amongst groups of 3-4 students. Everyone was engaged and being productive.

This is going to be a good year.