When O’Fallon Township High School founded a robotics team three years ago, Mr. Eric Curry was not exactly thrilled with the upcoming adventure. In fact, he initially wanted little to do with the project, considering the time and effort involved. As he viewed the FIRST ideals in progress and the mounting team unity, however, Mr. Curry soon devoted all of his effort toward this endeavor. He has brilliantly led our team for the past two years as our head coach, teaching us not only about robotics and engineering, but to live with great moral character. Not everyone on our team masters skills in mechanical, electrical, or programming concepts, but Mr. Curry makes sure that every member of our team, whether part of construction or administration, has unique and important duties. Our once-struggling team has now transformed into a smoothly-running organization, one that’s always more fun than burdensome.
When our team started, there were perhaps a total of 20 members, assuming that everyone showed up. Needless to say, our rookie year was not very successful. This year’s team membership centers on the Advanced Honors Physics class, which spends the entire 3rd quarter of the school year constructing the robot. Outside of these 30 members, 40 additional students in our high school have expressed their engineering interests and joined the team. Because our group runs more similarly to a corporate business than to a school club, we have a hierarchy of officers. At the top, the Chief Executive Officer works alongside Mr. Curry to supervise the team. The administrative team helps to organize the project, while the mechanical, electrical, and programming teams complete specialized tasks. Members, however, are encouraged by Mr. Curry to float between administrative and technical duties. By respecting and listening to each other, team members with a vast array of experience and backgrounds collaborate to construct an innovative robot.
The majority of the female students in the Advanced Honors Physics class originally signed up to participate in the course only after intense pressure from Mr. Curry. After all, none of them knew anything about robot construction or operation. There is so much more to participating in FIRST Robotics, though. The administrative tasks are immense, from raising the entire budget ourselves to organizing communication with other teams and our mentors. Despite this, at least half of the female members have become seriously active within the mechanical, electrical, and programming teams. Mr. Curry makes sure that everyone has a role, and assures that every role is then respected. All members know that if they receive an undesirable task to complete, Mr. Curry will make sure that their next task is much more favorable, leaving little room for complaints.
Our team is no different from competitors’ in the fact that our robot has broken down, at least in part, several times. Each time, Mr. Curry holds a team session to discuss possible solutions, helping to perfect and explain the more complicated methods. When a decision is reached, Mr. Curry is never afraid to get his hands dirty with the construction teams, but always pulls out when the students can complete the rest of the task themselves. This way, the project is beneficial, rather than an impossible. In addition, Mr. Curry reaches out to the administrative team through daily conferences about upcoming events and the preparation needed for success. Although every team has difficulties to some degree, our Robotics Team has been extremely well-managed for the past two years. No member of our team will ever be lucky enough to work under a better boss than Mr. Eric O. Curry.