East West

Arefin Bari embodies all that FIRST strives to be. He has been indoctrinated by the FIRST community and lives and breathes its principles.

Arefin was an active member of Team 108 during high school. Even though he was on another team, I heard his name everywhere I went. He was seemingly involved in every aspect of FIRST. Upon graduation he did not leave FIRST behind. Arefin had a vision that South Florida should be a thriving FIRST community. He volunteers at every event he can get to, whether he is organizing, announcing or competing, he is always involved.

“Arefin Bari has been a great help and supporter of FIRST programs in Broward County. The past 4 years, Arefin has mentored FLL teams and has been instrumental in providing volunteers for the South Florida FLL tournament. In addition, he has developed a dependable communication structure for regional FIRST teams which has helped local teams maintain enough interest to host 2 successful off-season FRC tournaments. Arefin embodies the spirit of FIRST in the passion he portrays in communicating with teams and in volunteering at local events.” (John Burke, Broward County Magnet Coordinator)

After graduation, Arefin began college at FAU and an internship at Pratt and Whitney. He did not, however, give up on his passion for FIRST. Arefin wanted to get involved with a local team and saw the potential and problems of Team 1345 – The Platinum Dragons. As a team with limited mentor support and resources, we gladly took him up on his offer to be a mentor. Although initially I was very skeptical on what effect a college freshman could have on our team, over the past two years I have been converted to a true Arefin believer. He has advanced our team in almost every way possible. He has motivated the Platinum Dragons to tackle more advanced designs and has fostered a level of unity and teamwork this team has not seen before. He is the fuel for this team and his commitment is contagious. Arefin seemingly lives at Stranahan High. He is here during school, afterschool and weekends. If he has a break between college classes, he will stop by to discuss strategy or to show me the latest threads on Chief Delphi. The principal, security staff and office staff all know him by name, and Team Members do not hesitate to consult him on academic as well as personal problems. In two short years he has become an indispensable part of our team, woven into the fabric of the Platinum Dragons.

Arefin is also the ultimate FIRST team resource, from materials to personnel to marketing, he is the man. Last year we needed extra wheels. Arefin used his contacts to get wheels shipped from another team. This year we were desperate for programming help, Arefin contacted Team 710 (which lost funding to participate this year) and invited them to join Team 1345. From that we got two programmers that have been an asset in this year’s game. He is like Don King when it comes to promotion. Arefin makes sure that everyone in the FIRST community knows about the Platinum Dragons and what Team 1345 is up to.

Arefin is a product of FIRST, an ambassador for FIRST, and a role model for the FIRST community to emulate. If we could bottle the passion for FIRST that runs through his veins and put it in next year’s Kit of Parts, the FIRST community would be catapulted to heights not yet seen. I can think of no one more deserving of the Woodie Flowers Award than Arefin Bari.