Mr. Jay TenBrink is truly an inspiration, motivation, and encouragement to myself as well as the entire team. His enthusiasm for his engineering profession as well as his desire to share his learnings with others is always evident.
During our brainstorming sessions each year, Mr. TenBrink continuously reminds us that there is no such thing as a dumb idea. He encourages each of us to contribute, often calling on us by name. We always find ourselves building on one another’s ideas; hence what someone may have thought to be a silly idea inspires a brilliant idea in a teammate. Mr. TenBrink is also “quick with a pen” which allows him to capture our ideas on paper as he encourages us to sketch our design ideas and post them on the walls.
Mr. TenBrink makes learning fun for us. He is very safety conscious and insures we know the proper use of each of the tools. He’ll relate humorous stories about folks who failed to use them properly, to insure he gets his point across.
From a technical perspective, there is no better teacher than Mr. TenBrink. He illustrates complex principles on paper with mathematical equations, and then sketches the design principle, utilizing gears, levers, etc. He then provides examples of the principle in real life applications that always help us better understand and remember. A perfect example of this involves the continuously variable transmission we designed and built over the summer. We weren’t sure we fully understood how it worked until he told us it was the type of system used in most snowmobiles. That, we were familiar with!
Another teaching method that Mr. TenBrink uses to insure we understand the engineering concept is to have each of us explain it to him. We did this frequently as we were learning the scientific principles of dynamometer operation. The dyno is another Mr. TenBrink conceived and designed learning project that has become very special to each of us. It is very important to him that we expand our knowledge as much as possible and hence develops learning opportunities for non-competition months. As we built the dyno, out of a previous year robot parts, he taught us all about how it worked and then had us explain it to him. If we got stuck along the way, he would help us out, never making us feel bad, even if it took us three or four times. As a result of his working with us, just about all the team members could easily explain the dyno purpose and operation to the 75+ teams that utilized it during 2003.
Teamwork, another important value of Mr. TenBrink, has allowed each of us the opportunity to get to know one another better and appreciate the diversity we each bring to the team. He is always prepared with project lists that he assigns us to work on as teams. He focuses on the end result and encourages us to figure out the solution, making himself available to answer questions, if necessary
One additional aspect Mr. TenBrink brings to the team is his enthusiasm. It’s very contagious and gets each one of us excited about what we are learning. We tend to learn more that way and it really makes us feel good about ourselves when we go to a competition and are personally able to help other teams solve their robot problems based on our own learnings.
He teaches us by example daily that in the words of Paul Bryant, “It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.”