Triple Helix students are proud to publish this Woodie Flowers Award nominating essay for our mentor Nate Laverdure.
Nate Laverdure has been involved in FIRST for as long as he can remember. He grew up in southern New Hampshire, less than 20 minutes away from FIRST headquarters in Manchester. In the summer of 1996 between 2nd and 3rd grade he signed up for a summer camp at FIRST headquarters where, over the course of a couple weeks, he and a couple of other students helped beta test the first LEGO Mindstorms system for a new FIRST program in development. Later, in 1998, FIRST piloted the FLL program using lessons they had learned during that beta test.
Now, Nate is acting as head coach for FRC team 2363, Triple Helix, after being appointed at the end of the 2015 season by the previous head coach and Virginia regional Woodie Flowers winner Matt Wilbur. Nate’s passion is one of his strongest qualities that qualify him for this prestigious award. While there are mentors who have worked with teams for much longer, Nate’s drive to see those around him succeed in what they love really leads to his success as a head coach and a mentor that all the students adore. If a student needs help Nate will sit with them advising them until they get it right. He takes his position as leader of 2363 very seriously and works with the student leadership to make sure everything on the team is running smoothly.
As a cryogenics mechanical engineer at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, we were curious as to how Nate got to where he is and his response did not disappoint us. “For almost my entire life I’ve wanted to become a mechanical engineer. (I’ve only had 3 answers to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?”… first it was Greyhound bus driver, then great white shark, then engineer.) Participating in FIRST helped get me to where I am now primarily because it allowed me to develop real working relationships with professional adult mentors. This had a huge impact on my life… Having the opportunity to learn from those mentors in high school shaped my entire approach to learning throughout college and into my career as a mechanical engineer.” The impact that Nate’s high school mentors had on his future also led to Nate’s own teaching and mentoring method. He is a mentor young enough for the students to relate to, yet mature enough to guide us as we prepare to take the next big steps in our lives.
Nate is a mentor who understands his students and uses his own experiences and understanding to mentor us, rather than simply telling us how to work and live. He has worked with FIRST as a student, tournament director, advisor, mentor, and head coach. His passion and strive for success inspire everyone who meets him, whether they are student, mentor, parent, or co-worker. The respect he earns from those around him are always returned tenfold and the impact FIRST has had on Nate is evident in everything he does.