As a Dean's List Winner I was able to take an amazing trip to New Hampshire to visit FIRST Headquarters, DeKa, and the elusive Dean Kamen Manor. The first day everyone was rushing around trying to learn everyone's team number because our first meeting at Worlds was just a huge blur. Very quickly the conversation turned to speculation over what the 16'-17' season game could be. And that is one of my favorite parts about FIRST, that even though we had students from Alaska to Mississippi to New Jersey all of us shared the same crazy love for robotics.
That night the anticipation level was high and we were all giddy with excitement as we pulled up to Dean Kamen's Hanger on a Hill. I have watched a lot of house hunters, but never have I seen anything close to as cool as this. He gave us a tour of his house, which reminds me more of a museum, telling us how each year DeKa gives him a gift to add to his collection. I would really like DeKa to give Santa Claus a few tips because these gifts were incredible, ranging from a Tesla Coil Speaker to an Elliptical Gear Clock. Unfortunately there were no photos allowed : ( , but he did give us a book with pictures of the gifts! The night concluded with a lovely dinner in a helicopter hanger with all the Dean's List Winners, the founders of FIRST, and all of FIRST's incredible sponsors. It was pretty cool to see Andy and Mark of AndyMark. After what felt like a blink of an eye the next day had started and we were touring FIRST HQ. It was so much fun to see where all the magic happens so to speak. We all rushed around trying to find clues to next year's game, but we came up short. But, it was still great to meet all the people at HQ who make our robotics experience possible.
After two packed days we ended the summit with a dinner with Woodie Flowers, who as always gave an inspiring speech about how we would be the problem solvers of the future. It is a bit daunting given a task like this, but I know the opportunity we have received to compete in First will help us find a solution. Now I cannot wait to compete against my fellow Dean's Listers in next year's competition, and work with them to help strengthen the First community!