Roland Anderson has served as Woburn Robotics’ main mentor and leader since our inception in 1995. An indispensable source of leadership, inspiration, and knowledge, Mr. Anderson is truly a beacon of the principles valued by FIRST. We have been a part of the FIRST Robotics Competition for six years, and through it all, Mr. Anderson has dedicated unbelievable amounts of time toward our advancement. From obtaining robot components to lending his vast knowledge to legions of new teams, it is not an exaggeration to say Mr. Anderson is the quintessence of what a FIRST mentor should be.
When Team 188 initially entered FIRST, we were nothing short of overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the experience. There existed also the additional complication of being the first and only Canadian team in the competition at the time. Yet because of Mr. Anderson’s leadership, who saw this as an interesting challenge rather than a setback, we proved our capabilities and won a Special Judge’s Award as well as numerous accolades from other teams at the Great Lakes Regional.
From day one of the build season on, we met at Mr. Anderson’s home every night, building in his garage, strategizing in his living room, and taking meals in his kitchen. Lending his tools to students who had never even picked up a screwdriver, and teaching countless others to safely use machinery, Mr. Anderson never hesitated to allow us the use of his personal shop. He and his wife, Ann, were willing to open their entire home to us and put their lives on hold for a full six weeks. This was only a small part of a huge commitment from which, even six years later, despite retirement from teaching, he has never wavered.
In addition to being a seasoned secondary school teacher and chemical engineer, Mr. Anderson is a master craftsman. The patience, careful planning, creativity and ability to translate ideas into workable solutions that he thus posesses have been an invaluable asset to the team from the very first year we were involved in all the way to the current 2004 season.
Lending his creative genius, Mr. Anderson is able to help us without fail when facing technical roadblocks; our victory in the West Michigan Regional last year would have been impossible if not for Mr. Anderson’s solution to our dilemma of how to raise our robot’s arms through a tight space. Mr. Anderson’s suggestion of a unique winch-like mechanism spawned other ideas and eventually resulted in an amalgam of theories that fused together to create a strong working component. The strength of this, we noted, lay not in the original idea that he suggested, but in the fact that he encouraged and left it up to us to ascertain the best way of implementing it. This is a very small example of how his experience as a high school teacher has proved essential to our team.
Although now retired, Mr. Anderson still balances an incredibly busy schedule dealing with the team’s involvement in the FIRST organization. Today, he continues to be looked upon as the principal guiding force of the team, and an ideal role model for students to emulate. He is respected and well-known by nearly all of the Canadian teams in FIRST, and played a pivotal role in making the FIRST Robotics Competition an international event. However, what is truly awe inspiring about Roly, as he is affectionately known, is his level-headedness and ability to provide direction to the robot’s creation at every stage from design to testing. Truly, no one embodies the spirit of what a FIRST mentor should be more than Roly Anderson.