East West

The whirl of a band saw can be heard as you walk down the sidewalk of Baylor Circle in the afternoon. If you follow the sound you will almost surely find FRC team 1902 in a garage, hard at work on their robot. The garage they are building in happens to be connected to one of their mentors houses. Dan Richardson is the lead mechanical mentor of team 1902 and during build season he hosts 20 students in his garage every day, inspiring them to become the leaders of tomorrow. From teaching students how to work the drill press to making sure all the right parts are in, Dan is there making sure everything is running and that the students get the most out of the FIRST program.
When you’re working on something as complex as a FIRST robot you need to have someone who knows what they’re doing. For team 1902 that person is usually Dan. But he doesn’t keep his knowledge to himself. Instead he teaches the students around him how to do all the tasks that are necessary. Anything from mounting an arm to how to drill correctly, Dan is there to make sure everyone around him knows what they are doing.
This year, after the team had decided on the basics of how we wanted the robot to be designed, we needed someone to physically engineer the robot in Inventor. Dan was the only person who knew how, so the incredibly hard job of exact design fell to him. He met the challenge in stride and spent many a sleepless night on it, but he got it done. After he had unveiled the design to the team and got their approval he went about getting the necessary parts to be machined. But while we were waiting for the parts to return he set up some of the students to learn how to go through the process of designing in 3-D. Dan inspired the students to learn the program so that in the future the students could have a little more ownership and knowledge of how a robot was designed with every detail in mind.
Being a college student in an engineering major at UCF Dan doesn’t have a overabundance of free time. But he somehow manages to build his time around robotics. Whether it’s giving up a little bit of study time or not going to dinner with his girlfriend he is always there when the team needs him.He has inspired many students on the team, myself included, to find better ways to manage time in life.
But Dan doesn’t stop with just team 1902. This year Dan set up a collaboration with team 1369 in Tampa. He strongly believes that teamwork is something to be truly valued, not just for FIRST, but for life. This attitude was passed on to the students of both teams as we worked in tandem to get both of our robots finished and perfect. Dan is also going to be volunteering at the UCF regional as the game announcer.
The goal of FIRST is to inspire young minds and to reveal to them the exiting world of science and technology. Dan Richardson realizes this goal and strives towards it every time he walks out into his garage. He believes in this goal so much that he is willing to give up his time, energy, and his garage so that 20 students can realize that same goal.