A smile of bliss and surprise settled on Al’s face after he was declared the recipient of the Woodie Flower’s Award last year at the Midwest Regional. “This is better than an Emmy!” he exclaimed. And he has won an Emmy.
Al Skierkiewicz is an outstanding mentor on our team who enjoys watching students grow as young adults and as future engineers. Whenever given the opportunity, Al speaks eagerly about FIRST and WildStang. The above quote is a great example of how meaningful FIRST is to Al and to his priorities because he successfully balances being a dedicated mentor, professional and family man. While Al is an enthusiastic Wildstang mentor, he is even more willing to be a benefit for the entire FIRST community by volunteering for leadership positions at major events.
Al earned the title of Lead Inspector at the Midwest and Boilermaker Regionals and the Championship Event for the Newton Division last year. Al treasures being involved with students. He genuinely enjoys listening to them talk about their robots during inspections, knowing how much time and effort they put into their teams. Due to Al’s effectiveness, this year he’s been asked to be Lead Inspector at the Milwaukee, Midwest, and Boilermaker Regionals. Al feels honored by this great responsibility. His respect for FIRST students becomes obvious when he interacts with them. He asks excellent questions that prove he not only listens but pays attention.
In 2004, Team #1365’s robot was destroyed during shipping. Knowing that no team could compete without passing inspection, Al walked with the team to the field while inspecting their robot, giving them as much time as possible to rebuild. As lead inspector he doesn’t just inspect, he sincerely cares about students and their experiences at competitions. Last November, Illinois FIRST held a Rookie Team Welcome
Workshop. This workshop was intended to assist rookie teams in initiating their adventure in FIRST. There, Al spoke about Gracious Professionalism and answered various questions from the teams.
In addition to assisting FRC teams Al is also active with FLL. This year Al mentored six FLL teams. Recently, Al has been helping FRC teams in Chicago. For example, he travels to Lindblom Math and Science High School. There, Al helps the team with everything they need, including making sure they have sufficient electrical and mechanical supplies. Besides being there in person, Al makes himself available any time by allowing teams to email or call him with questions that may arise. Besides mentoring WildStang, FLL students, and teams in Chicago, Al also recently helped Caterpillar in Peoria start two teams.
Last March, Al took WildStang's 2003 robot to Peoria to get high school students excited about robotics. While in Peoria, nearly all of the 65 students signed up for the anticipated robotics team. Two teams of four schools each have been started already. A month later, three busloads of students and adults from Peoria came to the Boilermaker Regional. Additionally, Al continually communicates with the Peoria teams via email and telephone.
His lasting philosophy of growth through knowledge and experience is contagious; each student who works along with Al will inevitably be affected by his commitment and overall excitement of being a productive member of the FIRST community. As Al always exclaims, "I think it's important that everybody learns something new every day, and if you haven't by the time you go to bed, you better get up and learn something!"