Member of the Inaugural Class of 2010
Team: 694 – StuyPulse (Credit Suisse / D. E. Shaw & Co. / Verizon / Con Edison / Time, Inc. / The Wallace Foundation / Yvette & Larry Gralla / Cox & Company, Inc & Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association & Parents Association & Stuyvesant High School)
Regional: New York City Regional
College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Two years ago, Seth Berg faced a difficult choice: continue playing as the star wide receiver on the varsity football team, or take on the responsibility of becoming President of Engineering.
At the end of his sophomore year, Seth had become a standout on robotics. He became Vice President after his freshman year, and quickly established himself as a natural team leader with the kind of innovative designs that could set StuyPulse apart. His grabber model, which he made out of a bookmark and staples during lunch, became the design we used on our 2008 robot.
At only 16, Seth’s astonishing amount of engineering knowledge and ease in a leadership position made him the clear choice for president. After a few weeks of careful deliberation, Seth shocked his friends outside of the team when he announced that he was quitting football to wholly dedicate himself to robotics. The decision turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened our team.
As President and leader of the nearly 150 students on the team, Seth is inspiration to everyone he works with. Every school year begins with an exciting group challenge for all new members- a robotics mini-competition of Seth’s own creation. He then works with every group to ensure that the recruits are learning techniques that will make them productive teammates during the build season. Throughout the year, Seth constantly updates our robotics email group with the robot’s progress while encouraging all members, new and veteran, to contribute their own ideas.
Seth also influences the team is through his unparalleled dedication. For Seth, robotics is a year-round activity, and taking 4 AP classes is no excuse to slack off. Every night, Seth can be found scouring ChiefDelphi for engineering threads. During vacation, he dedicates entire days to designing potential drivetrains on Autodesk Inventor; one summer, he even secured a lab space at a sponsor’s company for the team to test drivetrain concepts. He’s the one waiting outside of the lab doors before the meeting begins, and is always the last one to leave. Seth hasn’t missed a single meeting as president. His friends call him crazy for spending night after night in our lab, but Seth is known around Stuyvesant for leading the team to victory year after year.
Seth’s dedication is coupled with an extraordinary aptitude for engineering. He knows how to use every tool in the lab, from the milling machine to the deburrer, and knows the size of a standard bolt circle by heart. Seth leads the design discussions, and comfortably meshes ideas from teammates and mentors into a cohesive final design. Within a week, Seth will have a prototype for a grabber, shooter, or kicker that is clever, efficient, and inevitably a major part of our robot. By following da Vinci’s principle that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” Seth has essentially revolutionized the way StuyPulse builds robots.
Even in the heat of competition, Seth is always ready to help other teams. He made Team 711 competition-legal at the 2008 New York Regional in just under an hour, and machined a part for Team 2601 in the middle of the 2009 build season. Seth’s levelheadedness under pressure also makes him one of the most approachable members of the team; one teammate remarked that “Whenever anyone has questions they go to Seth. He knows more about what we’re doing than anyone else.”
Notably, FIRST robotics has had as large an influence on Seth as he has had on his teammates. Though Seth always wanted to be an inventor, it wasn’t until he joined the robotics team that he seriously honed his interests. Seth interned at an engineering firm the summer of 2009, runs a blog about his personal engineering projects, and will pursue an undergraduate degree at MIT next fall. Though one might not associate hardcore robotics with the tall, muscular guy walking down the halls, every member of StuyPulse recognizes Seth as one of the best engineers who have ever been part of the team.