Paulo "Marc" Novais
From Brazil to Polytechnic via FIRST
Paulo "Marc" Novais's journey from Brazil to the Bronx has taught him many lessons, but he might not be beginning his freshman year at Polytechnic University this semester if he had not been involved with Lehman High School's FIRST Robotics team.
Marc remembers meeting Evan Weinberg, a teacher at Lehman, when he started school in September of 2004. "I told Mr. Weinberg that I was interested in civil engineering, and he said that we would be talking about all sorts of engineering during our FIRST team meetings."
From the beginning Marc recognized that the robotics team had much more to do with mechanical and electrical engineering than with civil engineering, but he stayed around long enough to get turned on to helping his team with organizing the Bronx Borough FLL Tournament.
On a trip to LEGO Land in 2004 Marc and Evan had a conversation that would redirect Marc's focus. Both observed how interesting one of the model towns was, and then Weinberg asked Marc "Would you rather design part of the town, or would you want to build something that works in the town?"
That got Marc thinking. Not too long after that he got heavily involved in the FIRST Vex Challenge (recently renamed the FIRST Tech Challenge ). After observing the "Aim High" competition at the NY Regional in 2006 Marc really dedicated himself to absorbing as much as he could about engineering.
Weinberg recalls, "There was a time when the two of us were trying to figure out how to make the tracking camera work, but after two hours we had not made much progress. I apologized to Marc, but instead of being upset he simply said, 'I just want to learn as much as I can.' "
Looking back Marc has two memories that stand out. At last year's New York City FIRST Robotics Competition he begged his parents to take him to the Javits Center for the event even though he had missed several days of school with a case of appendicitis.
Another memory that Weinberg corroborates is an episode in Atlanta this year. Marc, being the proud Brazilian that he is, became the center of attention during the team social when he unleashed his dancing moves. Weinberg says, "Through a combination of Brazilian charm and quotes from Star Wars, Marc had everybody going."
Now Marc is headed to Polytechnic University, a school he picked, he says, because of their good academic reputation and beautiful campus. Of course, a good scholarship made his decision even easier.
In the future Marc plans to join the PolyBots, a student service and engineering leadership club at Polytechnic University and help support other FIRST Robotics teams in Brooklyn. He is especially interested in hydraulic systems and pneumatics. One day he would also like to see his old team from Lehman High School travel to Brazil for a FIRST event there.