East West

Through his leadership, expertise, and ability to inspire all those that he meets, Steve Garward sets the standard for FIRST at every level. In his 8 years involved in FIRST he has mentored teams all over the world, carrying out FIRST’s mission: inspiring a love of learning. 

In 2007, Steve was asked to mentor an Australian FLL team, sparking his passion for FIRST. Since, he has aided 2 FLL teams in 2 continents, 1 FTC team that he runs out of his home, and 6 FRC teams, including being a key mentor of the first FRC team in Australia: 3132, The Thunder Down Under. Cherryl Bhatia, a member of the team in 3132’s inaugural year, says, “Not only did Steve guide us and encourage us to transform potential into performance in both robotics and our personal endeavours, he inspired us to enjoy learning new skills and to truly imbibe the spirit of FIRST.” 

On WildStang, Steve acts as a leader, organizer, and motivator. As head technical mentor, he developed a comprehensive curriculum for use during the pre-season. However, he doesn’t take control of these classes himself; older students are encouraged to teach newer team members, forming bonds between students. During build, Steve leads team discussions to guarantee that all members, no matter how timid, are heard, and helps students polish their ideas. On a team whose internal mantra before Steve’s arrival was, “WildStang: Never Done”, he is working to revise that motto by encouraging continuous improvement, but using an arsenal of lists to organize the team’s goals and combat our inherent desire to push deadlines. Steve understands all subsystems of the robot and how they’re related, and is more than willing to share his knowledge, iconic whiteboard and laptop in hand. Steve himself writes, “(…) you are designing and building a robot, which is a complete system – not just a collection of mechanical assemblies stuck together.” 

It’s his dedication and enthusiasm that really inspires his students: his willingness to put in late nights and hundreds of hours in the pursuit of instilling a passion for technology. When Steve develops a new obsession (recently LEDs, drones, and 3D printing) he encourages us to learn with him, providing us with resources to further our outside projects, which include creating custom circuit boards, designing innovative cable retention systems, programming LED displays, and more. Referring to himself as the “enabler,” he gets kids hooked on tinkering and technology, inspiring a lifetime love of engineering and drive to do more. He works hard to bring out the best in every student, spreading the message that “excellence is everywhere,” and giving us the means to find that excellence in ourselves. 

At competitions, Steve can often be found in other team’s pits, offering solutions to problems, providing spare components, and promoting coopertition. But we don’t mind sharing: it is our belief that every student deserves a mentor as life-changing as Steve Garward.