2009 Woodie Flowers Nomination
What Flight Director Gene Kranz was for NASA, Kevin Schimpf has been for Team 1987's Broncobots. Without a doubt, Kevin has been a fearless leader, motivating students like no other mentor can. Team members describe him as "dedicated" and "an inspiration" but perhaps the best description can be found along the lines of Kranz's term, "The Right Stuff." Kevin is what FIRST teams look for in an all-star mentor.
What sets Kevin Schimpf apart from all other mentors is the passion he displays for the students of our team and the entire FIRST program. Undoubtedly, FIRST is famous for its compassionate and intelligent mentoring community, but Kevin is one step above the rest. Kevin is a senior mechanical engineer at Honeywell FM&T in Kansas City, Missouri, and he has been a mentor for the Broncobots for the past three years. Before his first year with our team, Kevin had no connection to FIRST. After being recommended to the program by another Honeywell mentor, Kevin has been giving his all since day one. During the six weeks of build, Kevin drives over 1300 miles and misses over 50 meals with his wife to help our team. He's there in the snow, in the freezing rain, and in the bitter cold, always with a warm heart. Kevin turns up the heat every night, inspiring and motivating students to design, build, and work to their full potential. He helps us organize what we know, decide what we need to accomplish, and create a plan for success.
We can say with absolute certainty, Kevin is the backbone of our team. He can frequently be found surrounded by students hanging on his every word. What students dream Kevin helps make a reality. With his knowledge, we are able to make our seemingly impossible ideas come to life. Kevin teaches first by encouraging, second by educating, and third by coaching. Kevin's boost of confidence is what pushes students to approach the task at hand; his praise is what drives many of us. Kevin shows what needs to be done, but more importantly, he communicates how. Whether it's learning how to weld or creating parts on CAD, Kevin finds a way to make every task beneficial for the team as a whole. By delegating responsibilities and engaging each student, our team is truly a team. He constantly encourages students to push the limits of what they know, never accepting failure as an option.
Kevin has brought more than his lathe, his table saw, and his mill to our team and the FIRST community. He brings humor in tense situations, optimistic hope and fierce determination when plans turn for the unexpected. Not limiting himself to just our team, he's shared his expertise as a volunteer at the Greater Kansas City Regional for the past two years. He fuels the fire passing on FIRST's torch when recruiting mentors for other teams. His enthusiasm alone is enough to fill a room of new volunteers. With Kevin around, we know there are second, third, and fourth chances to perfect the imperfect, there are lessons to be learned, and there are countless skills to be gained from his support and teaching.
Like Gene Kranz put Apollo 13's stranded astronaut crew first on the priority list, Kevin Schimpf puts us first each and every day. For those of us who know him, he is our shining star, our constant reminder that we are part of something more important than a robot. For the FIRST community, he is someone to be admired and emulated. Kevin Schimpf has all of "The Right Stuff."