What does an IT Technician Senior and robots have in common.
Well, if you’re Matthew Bezayiff in District 5 quite a lot.
Bezayiff mentors high school robotics students in electronics, electrical engineering and computer programming during the winter months helping them prepare for the FIRST Robotics Regional Competitions. FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a program that inspires young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
No school or team knows what the competition will be until the official kickoff day where it is broadcast via NASA’s television system. From that day, each team has six weeks to design, build and test its robot before shipping it to the regional competition.
Students use various tools such as computer aided drafting software, electrical engineering software and even plasma cutters in order to build their robots to meet the game rules. This year’s event is called “Breakaway.”
In the FRC “Breakaway” robotics game, two alliances of three teams will compete on a 27-by-54-foot field with bumps, attempting to earn points by collecting soccer balls in goals. Additional bonus points will be earned for each robot suspended in air and not touching the field at the end of the match.
In the past, Bezayiff has judged team Web pages and also served as a robot inspector.
This year, he will volunteer his time over the course of three days as a robot inspector at the regional championships to be held in Salt Lake City, March 18-20.
Bezayiff and other volunteers will be responsible for the safety, mechanical, electrical and pneumatics inspections before each robot competes. They also will act "with Gracious Professionalism" at all times. These are not small “Bots,” they can have a maximum weight of up to 120 pounds and be between three and six feet high, depending on the competition rules.
Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It’s a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the values of others and respects individuals in the community and where mutual gain are not separate notions.
Gracious Professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process, Bezayiff explains. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.
This year there are 33 teams participating in Salt Lake City, and six are from Idaho. For more information on FIRST and its various programs check out www.USFIRST.org.