East West

Ian Mackenzie’s passion for FIRST has touched thousands of people’s lives. His love and  enthusiasm for the discipline of engineering is unparalleled, and through his mentorship of Team  1114, that love and enthusiasm has spread rampantly. 

Ian has been involved with FIRST for eleven years. He was integral in the founding of the first  regional event in Canada, traveling across the nation to recruit teams, and has remained involved  with FIRST Robotics Canada since. He is currently the Chairperson of the Waterloo Regional  Planning Committee, as well as serving in many capacities for FLL and FTC events. In addition to  all that he does for the FIRST community, Ian has been an active mentor for seven years, the  past five with Team 1114. 

When Ian joined Team 1114, with him came a desire to be the best that we could be. He  believes that each student is capable of doing anything they want to do, and he will work with them until they believe that too. Whether the topic is mathematics, engineering, machining, or  academics, he has the ability to make complex concepts easy to comprehend, with a litany of  examples at hand to ensure our understanding. This past summer, Ian was working with the  team on the design of a differential swerve which uses the same pair of motors for steering as  well as for drive. When he first showed us this concept jaws dropped. But within a mere hour, we not only fully understood the concept, but were now able to explain it to others. Ian’s true  feat was not the brilliant design, but making these advanced concepts so clear, something that  was unfathomable to us at first. 

Ian has a true passion for teaching, and enriching the lives of others. He gets so excited when  there is a new idea to explain, that it is hard to deny him the obvious pleasure of giving an  explanation. It is even harder not to let his enthusiasm rub off along with the new understanding  of the concepts. Ian views engineering as more than a technical discipline – he views it as an art  form, with end results that are not only effective, but elegant as well. This view has encouraged  many students to think of engineers in a new light – as sculptors of something elegant and  effective, striving to reach the pinnacle of both areas, as opposed to the nuts and bolts  stereotype. 

Ian’s mentoring does not end with Team 1114. His love for all things FIRST has inspired him to  reach out to other FIRST teams and pre-rookie schools, to share with them his abundance of  knowledge. He has created five technical seminars that he gives regularly across the province,  with several of them being selected for inclusion at the Championship FIRST Robotics Conference in Atlanta. 

As Karthik Kanagasabapathy, fellow 1114 mentor and 2005 Waterloo Regional WFA Winner said,  “It is because of Ian that our students see engineering as something more than calculations; it is  now a pastime, to be enjoyed for its nature.” Ian has instilled a love and respect for engineering  in every one of us students, through his careful explanations, infinite patience and genuine  

enthusiasm. He continues to seek out new ways that he can instill this in others, especially through his volunteering for FIRST. While the mission of FIRST is to “create a world where  young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes”, on Team 1114 we dream of  becoming the next Ian Mackenzie.