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Josh Falk
College Mentor
Lafayette College
Mechanical Engineering

Of all of my interests and extracurricular activities, my FIRST Robotics team is the most meaningful.  My experience as a third year Build team and Executive team member gives me a firm understanding of what I want to pursue in college - engineering.  I learned a great deal about general engineering, teamwork, leadership skills, and gained valuable real world experience.  A large part of deciding the most effective design is problem solving.  As a part of the build sub-team, I research mechanical engineering techniques, then determine how to accomplish each task as we  go through the design process effectively.   We work together as a team, and are continually improving our skills.  With each new experience, I gain more confidence.  I love that I am constantly learning about new technology, and turning my ideas into real working devices.  Working on a team to accomplish a complex goal is challenging since there is not always a  definitive answer, and being a poor teammate is not an option.         

Although I have learned an enormous amount in regards to engineering, designing and manufacturing a product to solve a challenge, that is not what FIRST is about.  FIRST is an acronym for: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.  The organization’s founder, Dean Kamen said that his goal was, “to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated, and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”  At first, I joined the robotics team because I thought it would be cool to build robots, but now I realize that although we do build robots, the point is for everyone on the team to be self motivated and determined to accomplish a challenging, technology based task, and to inspire others while doing it. 

While we all work hard, FIRST Robotics is not only important to me for all that I have learned, but it is also special because it has provided me with a second family.  The people that I have gotten to know through FIRST are not only fun to be with, but are people that I trust and admire.  I can be myself and know that I will always be accepted.  The technology lab at school has become a safe haven for me in the crazy world of high school.  I have found a place to go where I know that I will be comfortable, and will be with people who share the same interests and passions as I do.  We have created a group that is caring and dedicated to both each other and the work we are accomplishing.  The main goal of our team is not always to win, but to have a good time while respecting each other in the process.