Triple Helix mentors are proud to submit the following Dean’s List Award nomination for lead programming student Joshua N, of the class of 2023.
Explain how the student embodies the philosophies of Gracious Professionalism and Coopetition through the FIRST Core Values: Discovery, Innovation, Impact, Inclusion, Teamwork and Fun. Please provide examples.
Joshua’s dedication to the FIRST Core Values began in FLL and was cemented by his experience of competing at the World Festival three times. FIRST is a natural fit for J, giving him an outlet to explore his natural love of learning, curiosity, innovative thinking, and desire to be part of a STEM community. Driven by his passion for discovery and innovation, his skill and expertise has led to in-depth explorations of graduate-level mechatronics and controls concepts. J has had a tremendous impact on the FIRST community by mentoring 19 FLL and 3 Jr. FLL teams and by sharing his technical contributions as a gracious professional. J embraces the value of inclusion and has focused the majority of his mentoring in under-served areas.
How has the student increased the awareness of FIRST? Describe the student’s interests and/or plans to continue to engage with FIRST beyond high school. Please provide examples.
For the past 9 years, Joshua has expanded awareness of FIRST through his over 900 hours of outreach and mentoring in his community. J’s primary achievements have included his development of (1) robotics summer camps focusing on underserved populations, and (2) a training program for local FLL coaches. J’s work has also included starting and coaching two FLL teams, participating in over 100 community presentation/demo activities, teaching programming classes in local homeschooling co-ops, and assisting in organizing a Jr. FLL expo at a local STEM festival.
Having been involved with FIRST for most of his life, after graduation J plans to volunteer as a judge at FIRST events as well as mentor FRC teams. J has already started volunteering at local, state, and global FTC and FLL tournaments.
Describe the student’s technical expertise, using specific examples in the areas of programming, electronics, design, fabrication, making, illustrating how these skills have contributed to the team’s success. Please provide examples.
Experienced programming mentor Kim Flynn of FRC 1923 states that Joshua is “one of the two people pushing forward a new frontier in FRC software we’ve never seen; and he’s a student outpacing industry professionals.” J’s landmark accomplishments as leader of the programming subteam have been to (1) overhaul our approach to autonomous path planning and trajectory following for both differential-drive and swerve-drive robots and (2) implement advanced award-winning control techniques. J’s generation of time-optimized trajectories which obey physical constraints placed 2363 as the 39th top scorer among 1,412 teams worldwide in the 2021 FRC challenges. By open-sourcing this work and freely discussing it on the FRC Discord, J has also demonstrated that 2363 is a center of expertise in this area.
How does the student’s individual contributions to the team benefit the team as a whole in the areas of fundraising, outreach, entrepreneurship, and creativity? Please provide examples.
Joshua’s involvement now forms the cornerstone of Triple Helix’s outreach efforts, and has resulted in an increased partnership with our school district’s STEM Department to deliver an organized mentoring program to multiple underserved schools. Because many new students have joined due to his mentoring, J also has a core role in our student recruitment strategy.
In addition to this mentoring effort, J has also organized unique events such as FLL Kickoffs and Coopertition Days, has consistently participated in most of Triple Helix’s 62 outreach events in the past 5 years, and has embarked on outreach efforts of his own. J has also represented the team in written and in-person communications to sponsors, judges, and community members.
Explain the student’s leadership to their fellow team members. How do they motivate others? What is their leadership style? Please provide examples.
Soon after joining 2363 in 8th grade, the team recognized Joshua as the leader of the team’s programming and scouting efforts. These roles require a conscientiousness, work ethic, and maturity far surpassing those of an average HS student, as well as highly-tuned communication skills. J is a skilled technical communicator in all settings; mentors often find him walking students and adults through his approach to various problems, soliciting feedback from these teammates, and incorporating this feedback to refine his thinking. J instills in his teammates the belief that they can accomplish anything they set out to do, and his tenacity in the face of tough problems, and willingness to push technical boundaries, are an inspiration to his teammates.