Every team needs a mentor who exemplifies passion, enthusiasm, and leadership. These are only a few of the characteristics that Karthik Kanagasabapathy brings to FIRST and to Team 1114. In his twelve years in FIRST, Karthik has shown continuous dedication to teaching young and old minds alike. Karthik is a role model to us all; through his widespread FIRST involvement he gets thousands of people excited about science and engineering, while giving the students on Team 1114 a thorough understanding of many important concepts and a helping hand to overcome challenges related to FIRST and beyond.
The enthusiasm that Karthik has for sharing his knowledge and expertise extends to everyone in the FIRST community. He is a member of the Board of Directors of FIRST Robotics Canada, as well as the Waterloo Regional Planning Committee. Karthik’s inspiring level of energy and passion shines through in his emceeing at both the Greater Toronto Regional and the Waterloo Regional, along with many FLL
competitions and other FIRST events. Karthik has been a huge contributor to the Canadian FIRST community, aiding as many teams as he can in whatever ways he can and being very involved in the founding of seven successful rookie teams. He has presented segments of his extremely informative six‐ seminar series on the fundamentals of managing a FIRST team to local Canadian teams and at the FIRST Robotics Conferences in Atlanta. The entire set is available online, and Karthik is always eager to answer questions. He has a unique ability to motivate teams, not only teaching students but helping mentors to gain the confidence necessary to meet the challenges of FIRST head on, and to be able to mentor their students effectively.
Karthik knows how important the bond between a mentor and a student is, as it allows for effective communication to enable everyone to easily complete tasks and goals and to learn new things. To enhance this bond, he created our innovative “Big Simbot, Little Simbot” partnership program, allowing our mentors to get to know students on a more personal level and give students someone to turn to. A small example of the effort Karthik puts in for his students was when he spent several hours helping a little Simbot prepare for a math exam, giving her confidence and support and helping her succeed beyond what she thought she was capable of. His clear and effective way of communicating complicated concepts in way students can understand reaches far beyond the realm of robotics.
Karthik has the ability to subtly guide and inspire students to achieve excellence, making it seem like it is their idea to learn new and innovative concepts. His passion for strategic design has helped students to understand that building robots, just like many tasks in life and engineering, does not start with picking up a set of tools; it starts with careful weighing of options and consideration of the process, and moves in attainable steps toward the end goal. He encourages students to become involved in this process; one of his favourite phrases is “chalk and talk is dead,” and his hands‐on, inclusive mentoring style reflects that philosophy.
Having Karthik as a mentor makes 1114 a much stronger group of students and mentors. He is able to convey fundamental ideas in a simple manner and lead students to success. Karthik’s energy is contagious, and his professionalism gives every student a model to look to. His achievements in FIRST and the long list of students, mentors, teachers and parents that he has inspired truly make him a deserving candidate for the Championship Woodie Flowers Award.