Some great mentors are teachers, some great mentors are machinists, and some great mentors are Gerald Becker. Known on the team as Mr. Jerry Becker, Jerry has been fundamental in making our team who we are. He inspires our students and encourages them to work hard, be innovative and, as he always says, “be you”.
Jerry started out as a parent, but soon became instrumental to our team’s operation. At the end of our build season in 2006, the robot was overweight, the crate was expecting, and the team was out of ideas to lighten it. Waiting in the car, Jerry got pulled inside to help out. Using his knowledge, he managed to save the day for Team 1675. This was the first of many feats that he was to perform.
Since then, Jerry has signed on as a full-time mentor. Aside from being a supportive parent, he teaches the ins and outs of welding and machining to any student who walks in that direction. Jerry teaches all students how to put the utmost care into every part to make it as good as it can be. “I remember, vividly, him teaching me how to file,” Alumni Joe Maloney says. “Easily the most mundane task, but he showed me how to properly file, with the type of care that creates beautiful and precise parts. I still take that care when I file.” Students will always remember these skills; and in them he taught more. He taught how to focus on the task at hand- how to put all your attention to what you are doing. He showed how these skills and approaches apply to all aspects of life. And as alumni Jake Strack said, “He encouraged us to go out on our own, and accomplish our goal with what understanding we have.”
Jerry brings more to the team than his expertise. He has taught the students how to approach life, and how to deal with stress and confrontation both in and out of the shop. He has always been something of a zen master. He brings such a calm attitude to the team: in the heat of debate, Jerry always interjects with a reminder of the task at hand and with words of wisdom. Members across the years see Jerry as the voice of a reason.
Additionally, he influences lives. “In many cases, he would diffuse a situation or confrontation I was having and show me how to end them peacefully and intelligently,” says Joe Maloney. “Mr. Becker was more than just my welding mentor,” adds senior Katie Widen, “I remember when I wasn't sure on attending college. I was throwing away my grades... Mr. Becker sat me down and explained the value of education. His trust made me confident in my decisions.” No matter who you are, Jerry's attitude and actions gives everyone self-assurance. He just has that ability.
We feel that although he has not been a mentor for as long as some have, and is not a teacher, he is still just as worthy of the award. Without Jerry Becker, FRC 1675 would not be as skillful or such a compact peaceful family. Without Mr. Becker, members of 1675 would not, as he always advised, “be happy, and be you.”