Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Floating On a Metallic Cloud

Q&A with FRC Team 4335 Coach, Joe Rizo

For the past five years, Joe Rizo has served as a coach and mentor for the GSCTX FRC (First Robotics Competition) Team 4335, The Metallic Clouds. Passionate and dedicated, Joe helped lead the team from Waco, TX to St. Louis, MO to compete in the First Robotics Championships this past spring. Check out our full Q&A with him below.

How did you become team coach?
I first became involved with robotics as an FLL (First Lego League) coach. My wife saw an article about GSUSA partnering with FIRST and thought it would be something fun to do. We contacted GSCTX to find out more. They had already started several teams in Austin and were excited to expand the program. We did this for several years until my daughter became too old to participate. We were invited to Texas Robot Round Up by the Lady Cans to observe an FRC tournament. I didn’t know at the time that GSCTX was hoping to expand the Robotics program to include a second FRC team. While we were there Susie Rich, the lead mentor for the Lady Cans, asked me if I was interested in starting a team. After watching a few matches we were sold and the Metallic Clouds became a team.

What is your overall vision for the Metallic Clouds?
My vision for the Metallic Clouds is to have a team that promotes STEM and encourages girls from all backgrounds to experience STEM through robotics and Girl Scouts.

Why should parents know about STEM and STEM careers?
One thing I hear some parents say is “I don’t think my child is smart enough to do that, to be an engineer.”  We aim to break that perception, while we promote our engineers, there is so much more to STEM than just engineering. Our program is more than the robot. We need graphic designers, multimedia personal, marketing savvy girls who can help in other ways besides the construction of the robot. Most people forget, the T in STEM stands for technology and there is a lot of technology involved in what we do.

Favorite memory from the 2015-2016 season?

I think my favorite memory from the 2015/2016 season was watching the team come together at the Arkansas Regional. Our drive team consisted of all girls from our original FLL team including the drive coach. The drive team is the sub team that includes the driver, manipulator, coach (typically a seasoned mentor), and human player.  Being on the drive team takes great responsibility.  Students that significantly contribute to the team in terms of management, design, building, programming and such will be given preference for being on the drive team. We flew my daughter in to be the drive coach for the Arkansas Regional. So we had 3 girls on the current FRC team that came up from our original FLL team, the Robotic Rulers and our founding members myself and my daughter coaching. It was really great to see the girls come together and work as a team. We added a new member to the mix and it still seemed to work just like it used to so many years ago when they were once the Robotic Rulers. 

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