Mentors are the people that provide the team some experience considering various things that we haven’t dealt with yet in life. The LakerBots have two mentors, Spence Hollinger and Fred Burkert, that have each been with us for a number of years.
Spence was invited to join our ranks by Fred in 2013, and ever since, he has been an interactive and helpful adviser for us. Before joining us, Spence had no previous experience that was quite like robotics. His background is that of a mechanic, as he was always interested in electronics and such. So it was only natural that he was interested in joining. Save for the fact that he didn’t know anything about coding. As we were moving into the 2014 season, we had no one coding the robot, as we had no one to teach any of our members. With that, Spence stepped in and began to learn code. He ended up spending a lot of time watching YouTube. But in the end, Spence pulled through and we were able to develop some code for the season, though it was basic. From there, he’s only improved and has taken on several pupils to pass on what he’s learned. He currently is instructing two members, both of which are advancing quickly. Spence is an incredible addition to our team and is absolutely invaluable.
As for Fred, he too as a mechanical and engineering related background. He’s worked for 50 years in his field and has worked in construction, tool designing, and injection molds. He is a firmed supporter in programs that get students involved in STEM activities, this being part of the reason that he is one of our mentors. To quote him, he says, “Team-designing, through brain-storming, is [a] significant skill for functioning in today’s rapidly advancing world of automation.” He offers us advice related to the building of our robot when we need it or ask for it. With his assistance, we can make a better robot as he has more experience with such. Fred is an wonderful addition and we look forward to having for many more years to come.