Raul Olivera’s dedication to the students of Team 111 never ceases; he works passionately to make every day worthwhile in the world of FIRST. Not only WildStang members, but other teams’ students and mentors benefit from his enthusiasm and support. Raul shares his wealth of knowledge with anyone willing to learn.
Leadership is vital to teamwork, and Raul leads by example as the head mechanical mentor. When a problem arises, Raul works with the team, which combines as one to solve it. Instead of always giving the answer, Raul enjoys guiding students to
find the answers. Before build season, students needed to figure out which wheels gripped the carpet best. From twelve years of experience on WildStang, Raul knew the outcome, yet he created a physics experiment for the mechanical students to discover the coefficient of friction of each option. When build season arrives, Raul is essential to combining everyone’s ideas into one design. When tasks need to be completed, Raul expects that they will be done correctly, holding students to high standards. Student Rebecca Leung states, “He not only explains the task, he also takes the time to explain why we are doing it.” Raul is an advocate of safety, making sure students and robot parts are safe, and if they aren’t, Raul will direct a student to correct it.
Teamwork is important to Raul, who encourages everyone to vocalize their ideas and opinions. After five years as drive coach, Raul always ensures that the drive team communicates. Raul asks everyone to post meetings and events using the WildStang website. Dedication is another crucial aspect of teamwork; Raul voluntarily takes vacation days to work with the students when they have no school to continue progress on the robot.
Not only assisting Team 111, Raul will graciously help any team in need. Student Alan Mellovitz, Team 1525, expressed: “We would specifically like to thank Raul Olivera for his assistance with our design, help solving our drive shaft crisis, and for supplying crucial materials on a Sunday afternoon 48 hours before ship date.” Team 2047 needed specific parts, however, they didn’t have the resources to make them. Raul worked with them to make the parts. In the heat of competition, Raul never denies a team strategy and scouting information. A Team 188 mentor remarked, “[Raul] singlehandedly challenged our strategy and helped turn it around for the better. We would have been crushed first round had [Raul] not done that.” Regardless of the situation, Raul readily offers his time to help any team with any problem.
Raul’s assistance expands into the FIRST universe. He referees at regionals that WildStang does not attend. For the third year in a row, Raul will present at the mechanical seminar at the Championship Event. In 2005, the FIRST community recognized Raul as an Unsung FIRST Hero on Chief Delphi. He is an inspiration to many, including his children, Christina and Rich, both of whom became WildStang mentors. Rich joined Team 111 as a student and, following his dad’s footsteps, became a Motorola engineer and helped start Team 2047. Raul declares, “I am proudest of the influence we have had on so many students, including my son.”
He’s touched the lives of countless WildStang and FIRST students, inspiring them with his passion for engineering. By leaving a lasting impact on individuals on and off our team, Raul is a highly-respected mentor in FIRST. Ken Patton of Team 65 comments, “There are some people, for some reason, that make me feel like a kid walking up to talk to a rock star. [Raul is] one of those people.”