In May, CTA principal and electrical engineer (and, incidentally, my dad) Alan Bronec received an award from Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) for being an Outstanding Mentor to Missoula Robotics Team 3216 over the last eight years. Alan’s involvement with the team began my first year of high school when a teacher approached me about joining a newly-founded FIRST robotics team. I went home that night and told him about it, then asked if he would like to be a mentor. Given his profession, Alan seemed like a natural mentor on the electrical side. However, during that first meeting, his attention quickly diverted to helping students trying to build different mechanisms for the robot.
From that moment forward, Alan’s cemented his role as the team’s head fabrication mentor. Every season, I have witnessed him helping students develop cardboard prototypes — sometimes they’re just napkin sketches — into final robots in just under six weeks. When I asked Alan how he is able to help the students build such elaborate mechanisms, he attributed it to his experience of growing up on a farm and fixing broken equipment.