East West

This year Team 1675, the Ultimate Protection Squad, would like to nominate Kevin Kolodziej for the 2007 Woodie Flowers Award. He is not only a mentor of our team but the founder of the Milwaukee Vex League, a founding member of the Milwaukee FIRST Support Organization (MFSO), a referee and judge in FLL, team communications and team social assistant on the planning committee for the Milwaukee Regional, a full time student, referee in IRI and Purdue, and works at Novum Structures as a project engineer. Our amazing mentor has been part of FIRST for nine years, five of which were spent mentoring. Kevin is not only an amazing person; he is a dedicated, helpful, and enthusiastic mentor.

Kevin has been a part of the team since our first year in 2005. “Kevin was the mentor that truly cared that we made it as a team. He was completely in charge of everything. He did all the paper work, organized everything…and taught us the animation software. He was our contact to FIRST, the mentor for every ‘sub-team’, and the one who ‘taught us the meaning of FIRST’. That first year he was essentially the team, helping us understand what we were doing.” states Liz Widen, alumni on team 1675. That year was a crucial time for the team as the students didn’t know what they were doing. Kevin stepped up and taught the students how to run a team giving us the structure that we have now.

After more then half of the team graduated in 2005 Kevin came back to a team filled with freshman and sophomores that had no idea what needed to be done to finish a robot in six weeks. While some of the members had been a part of the Milwaukee Vex League that Kevin had founded, FIRST was in a whole different category. A “Jack of all trades and a master of none,” as many of the team members call him, he taught the animation team how to use 3D Max, coached the chairman’s committee, and educated a number of members on the team about mechanics. The team was extremely unorganized due to the small amount of returning members. Realizing this Kevin provided a huge amount of organization; coordinating many community services and helping us mentor team 1714 in their rookie year. Kevin was a key part to the drive team and helped The Ultimate Protection Squad reach 11th place in the Archimedes division, allowing us to play back up in the finals.

The previous summer, Kevin’s determined streak was really brought out. After being in a car crash that crippled his right arm, he still fulfilled obligations as a mentor. He was at the pre-season robotics meetings and went to the kick off with our team 1675 and team 1714. Through out this season Kevin has been teaching the members on this team about 3D Studio Max, logistics, and the mechanics of an arm.

Team 1675 feels that Kevin truly helps the team through organization, communication, and his teaching. One of the students on team 1675 said that, “Kevin teaches you the whole process, the math, the mechanics and physics, then he can bring that into the shop and help us translate our knowledge into a well made part.” This is truly valued on the team because the students feel that they should work on most of the robot, and not the mentors. With out the lessons the team learned from Kevin about communication, organization, and the process of engineering we would be a lot further behind in the maturity of the team.