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Jason Weiner
FRC Team #75
Hillsborough, N.J.
NJIT Studen

“We were in Brazil to inspire the advancement of science and technology. It was amazing to understand how we may have single handedly sparked that interest throughout the country.”

- Jason W., NYC Team 75



Jason Weiner

Brazil! Global Reach: Carrying the FIRST Message to Brazil

So there I sat in my room, staring at my phone. I had just received a phone call from Andrew, captain of Team 75, which I’ve been part of for three years. I had been told that FIRST was sending me to Brazil. Little did I know that I was about to embark upon an incredible experience, an experience that would carry the very essence of FIRST and its message to the world.

Several weeks went by, filled with paperwork and emails, at the end of which I found myself at JFK International Airport. Three teammates would join me on this adventure. The first one was Andrew, the team captain who had called me to give me the news. Besides being my partner-in-arms as the second of two robot controllers, he had spent the past few years helping with the yearly animation, which had won numerous awards. The second member was Johnny C. As our chief mechanic, John lived and breathed the robot and was capable of taking apart and reassembling any part with ease - blindfolded! The last member of our adventurous group was our team adviser, Mr. O, a statistics teacher at the school and one of the two leaders of Team 75.

At the airport, we met a second group of students of equal valor, representing Team 555 from Montclair. This group of six was soon to become our best friends as well as our most challenging competition. The total travel time, including baggage, connecting flights and customs, was about twenty-one hours. We arrived at 10 am in Porto Alegre, Brazil, quite exhausted; however, we had no time to rest. After short introductions with our Brazilian welcoming party, we were rushed off to the Globaltech arena.

Globaltech is a large building crammed with the latest technology shown off by various organizations. Everything from race cars to Segways was on display. At the very center of the building was a FIRST playing field. We were the center of it all, the main attraction! I found it incredible that FIRST should be at the front and center of all this technology. It all starts with FIRST. The place was crawling with businessmen in suits, billionaires, and celebrities. According to the emails about the trip, there were inventors, scientists and professors from Argentina, Austria, Australia, Germany, Italy, Korea, and the USA.

We unpacked the robot and got to work. It had suffered some minor damage during shipment, and we diligently worked on repairs as crowds of people stopped by the pit to watch us work. It was clear that we were the main attraction. The match was started when we gave control of our robots to four important representatives from Brazil. They drove our robots to the center of the field to signify the start of the exposition.

We spent the next couple of days touring the country. During this time our team and team 555 became the best of friends. Local Brazilian teams gave the tours, leading us to several high schools and to the Granados Falls. It was a wondrous experience, and so different from the United States. We became good friends with one particular Brazilian team, Team 383, and ended up going to their robot house for pizza and soccer, which they call football.

The next day, the competition really got started. This was not like your traditional FIRST competition where you get to play four or five rounds. Because there were only nine teams competing, we were in practically every single match, with little or no time to rest or repair. In addition to this nonstop excitement, we found ourselves competing against our American friends almost every round. In a way, they became our rivals and, because of this, we felt a great necessity to beat them. Once the buzzer sounded and the match ended, however, we would rush over to each other to help with the robot, shake hands or replay the events. Team 555 was our biggest competition yet our best friend. This was FIRST’s gracious professionalism at its best.

We broke for the night and came back the next day. Due to an unfortunate turn of events, Andrew came down with the Brazilian flu, so Johnny C. took up the task of driving. A member from Team 555 graciously volunteered to play as our human player. Playing through the day, we worked hard. The Globaltech arena was no longer filled with celebrities, but with busloads of local high school students, all of whom gazed in awe at the robot race in front of them, which involved furiously stacking the tetrahedrons that lay scattered across the field. The cheers of excitement ran through the building. It did not matter in the slightest that the language being shouted was not one that we could understand. We could feel the excitement in the air.

Later that day the match came to a close. Leaving the arena, we hugged all our Brazilian friends and said our goodbyes. Driving away from the arena, we gazed at the dozens of school buses parked outside. We were reminded by Anna, one of the two directors of FIRST for NJ and NYC, as well as a main planner for our arrival in Brazil, about the purpose of this little trip. We were in Brazil to inspire the advancement of science and technology. It was amazing to understand how we may have single handedly sparked that interest throughout the country. As we took off in the plane bound for home, we could feel the energy in the air. FIRST is a living entity that we humans need for the advancement of knowledge and for a brighter future.









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