So, Robotics has been explained. And the story has begun. That first encounter, even if it was only two words spoken in the background of my mind, was as important as ever, and I could still look back and say, "That was the first time I was introduced to my love."

For those first few months, at least.

But the fact was, I wasn't truly introduced. He was a faceless name, seemingly nothing, only remembered later, when I lay awake wondering how I had met such a wonderful guy. It was worse than the nameless face of my stories - I wouldn't have been able to daydream or obsess even if I had wanted to.

Many things happened during the month of November, important things both in the sense of Robotics and of my life. The meeting, that memorable meeting, occurred on October 25th, almost two weeks before the Kick-off meeting on November 7th that would officially begin the year.


That night I was walking down the halls of the school, making my way through the silent building to the Robotics rooms in the back, followed by my mother and father, who insisted on asking periodically whether I knew where the meeting would be held. These rooms proved empty, and so I had to lead my parents back down the same hallway to the library near the lobby in the front of the school.

Accompanied by calls of "I told you so."

Here we found the members of the Robotics Team, and were welcomed by Niski, who directed us to a table bearing folders with each member's name on it, containing permission slips and information. Another table was set up with refreshments, where we dropped off a plate of chocolate chip cookies before sitting down. I only knew a couple other people there, fellow freshmen I'd known for years, and so I sat near one of them, Tom Victor. We talked a bit about random things before the meeting started, which was headed by Niski, with input by Schmecker.

It was then that I learned about the competitions, how we would be traveling three times during the year, twice to places so far away we'd stay in hotels for a weekend and come back in coach buses. The UTC New England Regional in Hartford, which we'd take a bus to every morning for two days during one weekend. The Philadelphia Alliance Regional, which would cause us to travel to Pennsylvania for three days. And the National Competition in Houston Texas, which would require us to take a plane to another time zone, where we'd stay for five days. Two of the three competitions would require us to miss school for at least a day.

I most definitely picked the right club to join.

I also learned about the seminars. Every member was required to attend a least two seminars, though we could attend as many was we wanted. They were only meant to introduce us to the individual parts of Robotics, with one each for Drive System, CAD, Electric, Webpage, Animation, Pneumatics, Problem Solving, Programming, and Design and Strategy. We were told to sign up for the ones we wanted, and so I did. CAD, Animation, and Webpage, all of which seemed either interesting or mandatory, considering my interests. Animation was the reason I'd joined, Webpage I liked, and Computer Aided Design seemed like a lot of fun.

I didn't know many people at the kick-off meeting, so I sat with the one person I knew, Tom Victor, and listened to the presentation. At that point, I didn't know what I was going to do. It all seemed so technical, so involved, and all of the past members seemed so assured of themselves. I had no idea what these people were like, how the year was going to be, or what I could possibly contribute to the team. Later, I was recruited to the website, and was eventually abandoned to run it by myself. The knowledge that I was needed for something, that I knew something no one else did, pulled me along throughout it all, no matter what anyone else said about the privileges I supposedly got.

I preferred to call them benefits of going out with the captain.

After the presentation, we were told to enjoy the refreshments, and to feel free to look at the robot from the previous year, which was set up in a corner of the room. People interested in webpage or animation were told to talk to Mr. Kline, an engineer in the back of the room I'd never met before.

I came to know him pretty damn well over the course of the year.

I found myself in a group of ten or fifteen students, all interested in the technological portion of Robotics. This number would be greatly reduced as the year went on, but in the beginning, it was quite large and slightly discouraging. He asked what we wanted to learn, and we spoke up, expressing interest in the various subjects. Most were there to learn animation, but a few were there to work on the webpage, in addition to myself. Later I found out I was the only one who had experience with HTML and other webpage necessities.

That made me feel better.

After that introduction to the engineer I'd spend the most time with during the year, I found my parents, who were listening to Niski's explanation of last year's game plan and the strategy our robot used. It was a strange robot, with a square base, four normal wheels and an extra one on the back that could be lowered for quick turning, and two collapsible wings on either side that could be deployed to allow the robot to stretch another ten feet.

It was nothing compared to this year's robot.

That introduction to Robotics left me both apprehensive and excited. The chance to travel during the school year was great enough, but the chance to do something I enjoyed after school every day was just as appealing. The competition, and the large number of students, worried me, and I found myself wondering what I could possibly do on the team.

As I later found out, quite a bit.


The seminars started quickly. The first, Drive System, was on November 12th, though I didn't attend. My first seminar was CAD, on November 19th. It was possibly the most important of them all. Who knew that within a month following it, everything would change.

This time the meeting was actually in the Robotics rooms, and I was dropped off in the front of the building at 6:50 to walk all the way down the hallway to the tech rooms and the Cisco room, where networking classes were held during the school day. I arrived in Taylor's room at about seven, extremely confused because the Electrical seminar was also being held, and had already started. I was finally directed into the right room, where about fifteen students sat at the computers lining the walls. A television in the middle of the room hosting a computer screen was connected to a laptop on one of the four tables, and a tall, dark-haired senior was bending over the keys, attempting to display the CAD program so he could teach everyone how to use it. Taylor was at the desk in the front, laughing at the senior, and I smiled as I found an empty seat next to another boy, also dark-haired and seemingly pretty tall, though he was only sitting.

Instruction packets were handed out, containing tutorials for the 3DCAD program, which we got to work on. The senior explained everything as he did it on the large screen, and succeeded in confusing us with the lengthy directions. Taylor cut in every once in a while, and soon we were drawing circles, diagrams, and our initials. The guy next to me kept laughing, saying it was pointless to go through the coding when we could just draw the lines, which he proceeded to do. His initials were S.I., which I later figured out stood for Soren Ibsen. My first thoughts concerning him were focused on whether or not that was his real name. It might have been his nickname, or I might have been hearing it wrong, but either way, it was strange.

It turned out to be his real name.

At the end we were given a sheet with a design we had to copy, using the correct codes and everything we had learned. They had us drawing three small circles spaced equally apart on a larger circle, something, which confused me to no end. I eventually had to call over the senior to help me, which he did, though it took a while for him to explain everything.

Taylor later laughed at him for teaching me the long way around it.

I figured out that his name was Dave Wickers, the same guy whose name I had heard at the meeting weeks ago. It made no difference to me at that point, but in essence, it was a defining moment. He was talking to Soren later, and even a little to me, though he still didn't know my name. I pointed out that I had signed each of the designs I had printed off, and he took a look at those, checking to make sure I had done them right and finally learning my name.

I left that night amused to have met some new people, though it didn't seem incredibly important either way. Soren ended up being in my lunch wave every other day, but I didn't see Dave anywhere except Robotics.

Ironic, I suppose, that I later saw more of my boyfriend's best friend than I did my boyfriend.

The next seminar, on Animation, was two days later, held in the same room at the same time. I ended up leaving that seminar with a different feeling than I had left the CAD one. While still amused, I was beginning to develop feelings for a certain senior, though I probably couldn't have admitted it at the time.