By 3rd Year Junior, Maggie F
Both FIRST and robotics as a whole are incredibly challenging subjects that require intense attention to detail and even larger amounts of skill. More importantly, however, robotics teaches students what it takes to be an engineer. These lessons discuss various topics and, ultimately, what someone takes away depends on who they are. However, there is one lesson that holds true for every aspiring engineer. Success, especially in the beginning, is not the point.
The Columbus Space Program has an extremely efficient and detailed manufacturing process. This process is designed with extreme detail to ensure that the robot is efficiently built with as few design errors as possible. And yet, without fail, there will be significant failures initially, and these failures will always lead to some design change. Moreover, even when the original design does work, there will be some instances during competition when a flaw or problem arises. This is, as described by a number of CSP students, merely the nature of robots. It is also the deep-running, barrier-breaking lesson that every aspiring engineer will learn at some point in their life. Engineering requires breaking barriers and experimenting with new ideas. Therefore, failure and setbacks are, more often than not, the inevitable outcomes. These failures can be disheartening and can lead to one questioning their abilities. But, without fail, the engineers who experience these failures and, despite their doubts, continue to search for solutions become the best engineers.
Engineering is the ultimate test of human thought and imagination. For these ideals to fail and succumb to the merciless laws of nature is merely inevitable. As a result, engineering is predicated on failing and learning from those failures. At both the high school and the professional level, failing is the only true sign of being an engineer. Failures push engineers to think creatively and, as a result, develop exceptional solutions to complex problems. This can be seen every day at CSP’s HQ and competitions. Facing and overcoming failure makes an engineer and, consequently, it is what will make CSP students engineers.