Zachary K, Senior
I am in 12th grade at Cambridge High School and seventeen years old. I have many interests including the 4-H Robotics team, Welding team, Machining, making 3-D printers, an active church volunteer, restoring tractors, doing the mechanical maintenance of the sheep/cattle farm, and work. It was a busy year. I now have a small engine business, while working for the neighbor doing machine maintenance. I still do lawn care, snowplowing, and have several small engine jobs for work. I have been an Isanti County 4-H member with Wild River Pioneers club for twelve years. My favorite project areas are Small Engine and Robotics. At age 11, I joined the 4-H TNT Robotics Junior Discovery team when it began.
What I Have Learned:
This is my fourth year learning how to build a real robot. This year I have learned many things from our mentors, training workshops, and build season. I helped demonstrate the robot at the Children’s Museum, taught an Electrical class at the Jumpstart workshop, and promoted robotics at our County Fair booth where kids get to drive the robots. We also helped with the 4-H Engineer workshop, monthly youth robotics classes, built a jelly bean train, parade robot float, FIRST volunteer at State, and several other events throughout the year. Besides programming, electrical, and mechanical skills, I have learned teamwork, leadership, and public speaking skills. I really have enjoyed being a part of the team this year.
Jacob D, Junior
I am 17 and in 11th grade. I live in Stanford Township, and go to St. Francis High School. This is my second year on the team, and I enjoy building a new robot each year. I enjoy fixing bicycles, small engines, and other things. My family has been building our house for almost two years. While working on the house I have learned a lot about building, and using tools and equipment. I am also a Boy Scout and I finished my Eagle Scout project last fall, but I still have things left to do before achieving the rank of Eagle. I am active in karate and I am currently one belt below black belt. I like to spend free time going camping, fishing, hiking, biking, hunting, and being outside.
What I have learned this year:
Last year I learned a lot about all of the mechanical aspects of the robot. This year I have also worked on the mechanical things, but I have learned a lot more about the robot’s electronics and electrical wiring. This year I also learned how to calculate how much a motor could lift and how fast it could lift it, and what gearbox it should be paired with to lift the required amount of weight.
Josh D, Freshman
I am 15 and I am currently homeschooled. I live in Stanford Township. I am also in boy scouts and I am at the rank of Star. I am the Senior Patrol Leader of my troop which means I lead meetings and planning. I am in karate and I am one belt away from achieving black belt. I enjoy fishing, hunting, camping, biking, and canoeing.
What I have learned:
This is my first year on the team 3840. I have learned how to do electronics, how to solder, how to drill and tap holes, and a lot of the mechanics of the robot.
Andrew, Founder and College Mentor
I have always been interested in building things and figuring out how things work. I even dabbled in a little computer programming at the age of 14. I first heard about this program through a very interesting Popular Science article. My reactions to this article were like, "Wow, I wish I could do something like that." The next encounter that I had with FIRST was at an exhibit at the State Fair. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the 2:00 demonstration, or I probably would have started that year. The final experience before my decision to join a team was the result of a Facebook message from one of my friends about a robotics competition at the U of M. It didn't take much thinking to realize that this was the same program. A couple of friends and I went down to this competition and I came to the conclusion that this was something I definitely wanted to get involved in. I started researching about FIRST and realized that there wasn't a team in our area, so I came to the decision to start my own. How hard could it be? Well, I started by making a poster about FIRST and displaying it at the County Fair as an opportunity to recruit more members. I also took this poster and did demonstrations at the various 4-H clubs in our area. I recruited 6 members that year and the team was able to take 17th out of 40 teams at a regional competition. The next year started out with two kids on the team. We weren't expecting to do too well that year, however we were able to place 6th out of 66. Since then, I have graduated and become a mentor for the team. This team has been good for me and I am currently studying to be a computer engineer.
Kim Diers, Administrator
I bring to the team business management and planning skills. My work history includes accounting and tax preparation. Currently, a stay at home mom I have homeschooled our two boys since the fall of 2003 through Andrew’s graduation in 2012. Even before jumping into the world of homeschooling, I have enjoyed teaching my boys and watching them learn. For example, every trip to the grocery store was a math and economics lesson. Our son, Andrew is the founder of this team. We have been a 4-H family since the fall of 1999 and I have been an approved leader since 2008. I have enjoyed watching my two boys learn about various projects, community service, themselves, and others through 4-H and have been involved in such projects as food and nutrition, shooting sports, photography, aerospace, gardening, and now robotics. As a parent of a child who started an invention notebook when he was 9, I was destined to become the leader of the Isanti County 4-H Robotics Team 8 years later. It is wonderful to watch the team discuss and pull ideas together. The satisfaction that is felt when a plan works out or when a month of fund raising nets the team $2,500 is indescribable. There are pitfalls to be sure, but the joy and fulfillment far outweighs the disappointments. Even the pitfalls are something to learn from and another opportunity to teach our youth. Setting this team up as a senior team mentoring a junior team was a way to pass some of the satisfaction of teaching others and watching them learn onto the senior team, helping them to learn valuable leadership skills they are bound to use in the future. It was exciting to see our team recognized as a leader when asked to teach electronics at the Jumpstart event. This year we added a monthly STEM program in which we have a hands activity geared towards 4th-12th graders and invite guest speakers come and share the different aspects of engineering with us. We look forward to seeing our FRC team grow in the future from the youth we have reached through this program.
Dean Diers, Mechanical Mentor
I grew up watching my dad construct amazing things, and I have always been a builder myself, so I guess you could say creativity runs in the family. It just seemed natural when my son, Andrew, wanted to start a robotics team. I have been a machinist/tool and die maker for the first 18 years of my professional life. During this time I have enjoyed various opportunities to train/mentor others in the industry. When new economic realities forced a change in direction, I became a piano tuner/technician. I am currently head technician at Carlson’s Piano World, as well as operate my own tuning business. As someone who has spent many years in the precision metalworking industry, I have sadly watched the decline of the manufacturing base of this country. To say that I am passionate about teaching the next generation to build things and work with their hands would be an understatement. Now, as our son graduated years since the team began, I ask myself, “Why am I still doing this?” As we place a high emphasis on service and “giving back” to FIRST we are often seen volunteering at FIRST Events. I, along with most of our mentors, are certified inspectors, and I have also become the “official” choir director of MN FIRST. It is thrilling to see how many students we have gotten to know through the years grown up and are now adult volunteers. We love getting back together with our “volunteer family”, and the positive energy that exists there is priceless. We do more than build robots, we are building young people to take on a challenging new world by pushing them out of their comfort zone and exploring new things. I have been “accused” of being a professional. We simply do this because we love it, and believe in the FIRST program.
Todd Kruse, Electrical engingeer
As a 4-H member growing up, I loved participating in the electrical, livestock, computer, aerospace and small engine projects. My parents were very involved as leaders in 4-H. Now as a parent of three children who are active 4-H members and an Engineer, I have greatly enjoyed giving back through the years to an organization that has helped me so much. I have an Associate Degree in Laser Electro Technology and a Bachelor in Computer Science. I worked for 5 years in the Laser Industry, but wanted to design and program machines. I pursued my dream by going back to school and have been Engineering in Automation equipment for over 20 years now. This was my third season as a mentor with the Isanti County 4-H FRC Robotics Team 3840 through the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organization. The program promotes technology through creativity with a new task each year. The teams learn a variety of individual skills, team problem solving, sportsmanship, and marketing, just to name a few. I think it's important to mentor young people. They are the next generation of Engineers. The FRC (FIRST Robotics Challenge Competition) builds a solid foundation in Industrial Technology. The FRC competition is an excellent experience where the students learn how the everyday Engineer solves industry demands. It was encouraging to mentor young people that share the same passion for the industry that I do. At work, I train newly hired graduates through the concept, design, and build process. As a mentor for the FRC during the build season, I was impressed with the skills and knowledge the team members had already gained through the program in the previous year. We focused on concept, design documentation, making schematics, and proper wiring this year. It would be a pleasure to hire any of these team members after college someday.