At the root of every successful robotics team there is a mentor that strives for nothing less than what is best for the team. In the case of our team, 871 of West Islip, New York, this leader is Mr. Brian Buonomo. Mr. Buonomo, or Mr. B as we call him, is the driving force behind our team. The idea to start a FIRST robotics team began in 2000 when Mr. Buonomo was informed of an event in which students from around the country construct robots and compete in a game to learn the principles of engineering. He researched the competition, realized that it was something he wanted to pursue as a mentor, and in 2002, he single handedly started our team. As the years progress, the team grows tremendously in students, mentors and sponsors because of his influence. Mr. Buonomo’s knowledge of technology and life experiences allows him to relate to all his students on a level that is not often reached by teachers.
One of the most admirable characteristics of Mr. Buonomo, which all FIRST mentors should possess, is that he is set on having a one hundred percent student designed, built and tested robot every year. As the team leader, he employs very effective facilitation. Mr. Buonomo leads exceptionally lively discussions, making sure each student feels comfortable to contribute. During the design stages of the six week build season, each student is involved in the design of the robot through means of debating, analyzing, and voting on the best possible outcome for the team. Also, any time the team faces a problem, Mr. Buonomo is there to unite the team. He makes certain that everyone has input on deciding the necessary actions so that the team can move forward.
Given that Mr. Buonomo believes in an entirely student built robot, he allows the team to grow intellectually by promoting independent thought. He takes the time to walk through complex problems or situations, step by step, to ensure the student fully understands the problem and why the solution they chose is best. At times, to aid in the comprehension of a complex mechanism, Mr. Buonomo uses Lego’s so that all students are equally able to understand. However, Mr. Buonomo does not only mentor his students in building a robot. He prepares them for real life situations, by mentoring them in public speaking as well as effective leadership.
Effective mentoring requires open communication, one of Mr. Buonomo’s strong points. He is considered a very approachable person which allows him to bond with his students by creating a strong foundation of trust and respect. Students are free to discuss a myriad of issues with him because of the comfortable environment he produces. Mr. Buonomo’s enthusiasm for science and engineering fosters the communication he sets forth within the team. Each time a student successfully fabricates a part for the robot, or writes a functional line of programming code, he shares his infectious excitement with everyone on the team. He constantly praises and supports students for their accomplishments, which brings his relationship with his students closer together.
Mr. Buonomo’s dedication to FIRST is an inspiration to our team. Even with a new born baby in his household, he commits numerous hours after school, as well as on Saturdays. Over the past three years, Mr. Buonomo’s mentorship has had an enormous impact on each one of his students, inspiring them to reach their goals. This dedication that he provides is truly priceless.