One day in 2013, an unassuming man, Mike Ott, visited our pit at the CO Regional. We didn’t know it at the time, but he was going to transform our views on everything from scouting to drivetrains. Before Mike, we had never traveled out of state. He has added so much to our team: a 2nd regional, a 2nd robot and even a 2nd lead mentor! A 9-year mentor of FRC (Teams 1730 & 1619), Mike is the ultimate robotics superfan with an encyclopedic knowledge of robots, strategy, competitions and a great collection of robot shirts.
Joining an established team isn’t easy; Mike quickly assessed our needs, found gaps and got to business. One innovative idea he introduced was a mock-kickoff, a full day event where students experience the dynamics of kickoff day. Mike and a student choose a past competition, organize veterans students to lead brainstorming sessions and have each group present their strategy and designs. He debriefs with videos and describes past strategies. This provided a framework for our student leadership to creatively change our design process. We wouldn’t be successful without what we’ve learned from Mike about problem solving, preparation and effective communication.
A Team Driven (1730) alum recalls: “When he’d work with me, it was as partners.” Noah (1619) says: “When I needed to amend our Handbook, Mike was there to give guidance and answer questions. He enables our student-led team by helping all of us from operations to fab.” Mike pushes us to think of better solutions with probing questions to help us make our designs better. Andrew, an alum/CU Eng student, said: “Mike pushed me to find the most elegant and efficient solutions possible, whether it be designing complex mechanisms or machining robot parts.” Another student adds “You can ask Mike anything; what size drill bit is needed, how should we CAD this, what should the software do? The man knows everything, and I mean EVERYTHING!” Zach (1619) elaborates on technical points: “Mike explained shear forces using diagrams and equations teaching engineering concepts that go beyond what is taught in HS.”
In 2016, our lead mentor was out of the country. Mike stepped in to fill the role. He attends all our meetings (more than 30 hrs/wk) and coordinates with the student leads outside meeting hours. Mike is also our drive coach, guiding our rookie drivers through 2 regionals and CMP. Mike was integral in setting up our new building. He designed the facility layout, consulted with contractors, and learned ADA compliance. He searched for furniture and machine shop equipment at auctions and got everything running.
Mike always exemplifies GP, for example, helping a rookie team fit in the frame perimeter after failing inspection so they could compete, or helping Crush (1011) unpack and set up their pit when they arrived late at a regional due to snow. Mike Ott is an outstanding mentor always going above and beyond. We enthusiastically nominate him for the Woodie Flowers Award.