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2015 Dean's List Essay: Ben Rowley


Benjamin Rowley's passion, technical expertise, leadership, and commitment to the ideals of FIRST have been evident all along his 5-year journey from a 7th-grader in FLL to a highly competent FRC controls lead and drive team member. Ben has benefited from FIRST's immeasurable opportunities and diligently works in turn to promote FIRST robotics across his school, community, and state as part of Team 1912 Combustion - sharing the profound impact FIRST has had on his life.

Ben's programming interest started in FLL, as he led his team to win the Robot Performance award at the state championship. He quickly assimilated to the 1912 controls team as a freshman, strategizing in SPHERES, learning LabVIEW, and wiring the control board. At Regionals and Championships, he worked in the pit and was entrusted the important responsibility of managing the team's batteries.

In 3 years on 1912, Ben has helped sustain the team through his leadership. As a sophomore, he served as Safety Captain and Deputy Controls Captain, and assisted other teams with programming at Regionals. This year, as Controls Captain, he proposed and won a grant from the American Nuclear Society to purchase components for off-board vision processing. He wrote our 2015 FRC Beta Test Team submission, led the testing, presented 1912's experience with the new controls system at our Beta Test Open House, and followed up to help teams with questions during build season. He mentors 3 1912 students in electronics and programming while growing team skills such as integrating image processing in autonomous code, and introducing new tooling to properly install 2015 controls. A dedicated robot builder, Ben is always ready to run the chop saw or wrench a bolt to keep the momentum going.

Embracing FIRST's mission of inspiring others in STEM, Ben has actively led and participated in outreach since FLL, when he visited a younger team to teach them to program with sensors and presented LEGO robots to summer campers. A true team leader from the build space to outreach events, he has represented 1912 in over 30 events and has brought FIRST to people of every age, from politicians and community leaders to engineers, sponsors, and preK-12 students. He has helped run three FLL qualifying tournaments and the State FLL competition, and represented FIRST at the 2013 Louisiana Engineering Society National Engineers Week, NASA's MAVEN launch event at INFINITY Science Center, the inaugural WWII Museum LEGO challenge, as counselor at our Science Camp, state and district PTA events, sponsor appreciation visits, Hospice camps for grieving children, science fairs, and local events like Slidell's July 4th Festival. To promote STEM at school and recruit new FIRST members, he organized and led a learn-to-solder workshop for Northshore High School.

His passion for robotics these 5 years has focused Ben's plan to pursue graduate work in physical sciences and engineering. His FIRST experience paid dividends in helping him obtain and succeed in an internship at the University of New Orleans performing solid state chemistry research that has advanced him to the LA State Science Fair this month.

In addition to his FIRST credentials, Ben is a 3 year varsity-letter winner on the swim team, finishing in the top 10 at the state championship; an accomplished saxophone and bassoon player in marching and concert band; and in Boy Scouts, is designing his Eagle project to build new competition tables for BLaST and the LA FLL Championships.

Embodying the ideals of gracious professionalism, Ben has earned the respect of his team members, mentors, classmates, and competitors. It is obvious that he did not join FIRST to collect another line for college applications, but has embraced the principles and made them a part of his life, and will continue to pass on the skills he has learned from his FIRST experience as he mentors FIRST teams in the future. Benjamin Rowley will always be a true Ambassador for FIRST robotics.

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