Team: 1912 – Team Combustion (NASA Stennis Space Center/Naval Research Laboratory/National Defense Education Program/QinetiQ/Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne/Textron Marine & Land/Jacobs Technology/New Orleans Hornets-Chevron/Sierra Lobo/Qualis/JETS/Gulf Coast Pain Institute/Ingalls Shipyard/St. Tammany Parish School Board & Northshore High School)
Regional: Bayou Regional
From the moment Andy Zhou joined Team Combustion, the team knew a superstar had joined the ranks. Andy hit the ground running as a freshman, eager to absorb all he could about the technical aspects of FIRST robotics. He quickly demonstrated the ability to grasp the fundamentals of building a robot, and immediately assumed the role as a member of the competition team as the primary driver. As a sophomore, he expanded his role to lead a cadre of students in designing and building the challenge portion of the robot, dedicating numerous off-hours working with students to improve the design. This year, as a junior, he has hit full stride as a key member of the team. Although more familiar with the mechanical portions of the robot, he encouraged another team member to assume the role of mechanical lead and accepted the challenge of leading the controls team. He quickly became adept at programming, leading Team 1912’s beta test effort of Labview and the driver station hardware. Andy and the beta testing team wrote a presentation on their findings and provided it to area teams to assist their programming efforts. Andy’s contributions in this endeavor helped work out numerous programming issues, an effort which benefited all FIRST robotics teams. Andy’s innate understanding of the technical aspects of robotics is eagerly shared with all his teammates, making them better because of his lack of selfishness and ability to teach.
Andy’s contributions, however, are not limited to his technical acumen. He is extremely talented in other areas that have benefitted Team Combustion as well as demonstrate the passion that FIRST embodies. He has been a major contributor in the creation of Chairman’s video presentations, including the composition of original soundtracks for the video. He attends numerous off-season events, demonstrating previous years’ robots to educate and stimulate interest from middle school and junior high school students. He is an accomplished speaker, and he has given presentations to corporate sponsors to solicit support for his team. Andy is not content with the status quo-in fact, he is so enamored with robotics that he is investigating the potential for his high school to initiate a robotics class to heighten awareness and encourage even greater participation in FIRST Robotics.
Andy also excels as a leader. He is well-respected by students and mentors alike, often sought out by other team members as the “go to” student for key decisions. He has the rare ability to interact comfortably and effectively with mentors, students, administrators and corporate sponsors alike. He leads by example, and is equally enthusiastic whether he is writing autonomous code for the robot or painting a poster as part of the spirit team. Even with his knowledge and experience, Andy is quick to allow other students to drive the robot, experiment with alternative drive mechanisms or provide input on controls issues, all the while grooming them for leadership positions in the future.
The positive experience that Andy has had within FIRST robotics has had a significant effect on his long range plans. He has set his sights on majoring in a technical field, either biomedical engineering or medicine, and the ideals and experiences obtained through his association with FIRST robotics played a key role in that decision. Andy has gained invaluable experience not only from a technical standpoint, but equally as important he has acquired life skills such as conflict resolution and teambuilding along the way.
Andy’s rise to superstar status within Team Combustion has been impressive. His technical expertise, coupled with his creative flair and leadership skills, have firmly entrenched Andy as the cornerstone of Team 1912. His previous successes as well as his future endeavors have been shaped in large part due to the foundation of FIRST Robotics. Andy Zhou is most highly recommended to be honored on the FIRST Dean’s List.