FRC 4607 CIS has grown from a group of five semi-interested students, to one of the largest robotics programs in the state. Throughout our existence, we have experienced various successes illustrated by seven banners and the expansion of our robotics program. We attribute all of our accomplishments to the endless support, mentorship, and inspiration that our coach, Alex Jurek, supplies. Mr. Jurek sees the importance of FIRST and makes significant sacrifices to ensure the Becker program epitomizes FIRST’s ideals and fully provides students with the opportunities FIRST presents. For these reasons, we readily nominate him for the Woodie Flowers Award.
All CIS students have unfathomable appreciation for what Jurek has contributed to our team while balancing his multiple roles of parenting, coaching varsity soccer, and mentoring the robotics team. However, the endless dedication Mr. Jurek presents barely scratches the surface of the reasons why we are nominating him for this award. Not only does he serve as a role model for students, but he also brings out the intricate talents of every individual on CIS. Who would have thought that star football players could excel in robotic design, or that National Honor Society president could perform electrical wiring? Mr. Jurek corrals these diverse individuals and helps them to reach their full potential in robotics.
In addition to building team character, Jurek actively induces change in the culture of our entire school system and community by being a passionate advocate for STEM. He organizes our annual Robo Camp, which attracted 65 Becker youth in 2015, as well as coordinates Becker’s three FTC and three FLL teams that he established himself. Jurek also instigated the Central Minnesota Robotics Hub along with Jumpstart, a collaborative event in which CIS and Bison Robotics of NDSU held training sessions for 22 other FRC teams.
Although our coach has already been at the heart of many FIRST events, he continues to plan for expansion in the STEM universe. Jurek is currently working hard to infuse the Becker schools’ curriculums with FRC-related courses and to initiate building plans for a STEM center at our high school. Along with preparing to host a Week Zero Event in the future, he is also hoping to bring an FRC regional to St. Cloud State University. In the words of Mark Durand, coach of FRC 3023, “He has become a force for FIRST in our region. He is truly impressive both in his vision and his efforts to bring FIRST to this part of Minnesota. He inspires me to strive for more and work towards a truly impressive goal: changing the culture.”
Alex Jurek’s passion for robotics inspires his team, students, school, community, and the rest of central MN through his vast labor to implement and improve the culture of robotics. Two pages are not enough to explain how Jurek has positively impacted those around him, as well as the FIRST community, both now and as he undoubtedly will in the future.