Darby Watterworth of Kinetic Knights wins Dean's List award
at regional


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Darby Watterworth of the Kinetic Knights robotics team, Team 781, of Kincardine has won the Dean's List award at the FIRST Greater Toronto East regional held on the weekend in Oshawa.

She is now a finalist for the Dean's List award at the world championships in St. Louis, Missouri, at the end of April.

Nikhil Deshpande, a member of the drive team for this year's Kinetic Knights, was also nominated for the award.

Darby Watterworth holds her FIRST Dean's List Award
photo by David Dadson


Over the past three seasons, Darby has demonstrated the passion, talent, leadership, and community outreach that the FIRST (For Recognition and Inspiration of Science and Technology) Deanís List award was created to celebrate.

During her first year on FIRST Team 781, Darby became involved immediately. She enjoyed learning electrical and general build skills, as well as helping write awards applications and participating in outreach events. 

Whenever the team needed a job done, Darby's hand was always up, eager to help no matter what the task. She has grown considerably since her first year, and credits robotics for giving her the confidence and leadership that she demonstrates so well today.

In her second year, she became the teamís first Imagery Lead. Darby worked on new clothing ideas to visually rebrand the team, while increasing our visibility in the community. Her efforts to engage the community, both within FIRST and without, are inspiring. At any outreach event, Darby can be seen sharing her passion for FIRST and its ideals with anyone who will listen.

Darbyís largest contribution to the team came during her second year when she took on the role of Sponsorship Lead. Over the course of the season, she worked with mentors and teammates to write sponsorship applications, not only for our team, but for FIRST Lego League (FLL) and Junior FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams as well.

She organized the students into sub-teams to canvas local businesses. Because of her hard work, about 20 per cent of these local businesses supported the team. 

By providing leadership to small, dedicated groups, the team achieved more donor participation than in any previous year, and the team has never been so successful in raising funds. Darbyís entrepreneurship raised money for the team and involved all members, while increasing awareness for our team and FIRST.

Darby is far more than a fund-raising expert. She understands that FIRSTís mission is to inspire a love of science and technology, not just to build robots. Consequently, she is one of our team's most active volunteers.

She has volunteered countless hours at off-season events, such as Sci-Tech week, FLL and Junior FLL tournaments, Terry Fox Walk, Sponsor Thank You dinners, and many more. It is difficult to recall an event that she did not attend.

Darby's tireless work ethic and positive attitude elicit respect from students and mentors alike. She has shown that dedication and hard work are their own rewards. Her efforts to garner support for FIRST teams in the area have made her a fabulous ambassador for FIRST. 

She has made presentations to local service clubs and written a newsletter for sponsors as a means of strengthening our community support.

Through her activities with the team, Darby has become an adept communicator and has developed leadership skills rarely found in a high school student. 

Outside of robotics, she holds a solid academic record, works a part-time job, participates in extracurriculars, and volunteers at the local hospital. Her desire to excel in all that she does while remaining humble, has earned her the respect of peers, teachers, mentors, and community partners.

This year, Darby also took on the position of Internal Communications Lead, sending out weekly E-mails and posting on our forum to ensure the continued collaboration between all areas of the team. She has learned many things from FIRST, such as the importance of teamwork, gracious professionalism, and dedication. She ultimately hopes to pursue a career in business or teaching.

Darby has demonstrated over the past three seasons that she is, without a doubt, one of FIRST's All Stars. Her dedication and energy is an inspiration to all. Darbyís whole family has been a part of our team, and she plans to stay involved in the FIRST community. 

She will be difficult to replace when she graduates, but for now, we can continue to appreciate everything that she does for the team. We are proud to select Darby Watterworth as Team 781ís nominee for the FIRST Deanís List Award.


Nikhil Deshpande
file photo by David Dadson


Nikhil Deshpande has been a dedicated member of the Kinetic Knights for four years. This past year, he has been the FLL Lead for the team and has been a mentor to several FLL teams. We have watched Nikhil grow from an eager rookie to a patient and talented senior who leads by example, competently completing any task that is asked of him.

An alumnus of Team 781ís FLL program, Nikhil continues to mentor FLL teams at the local elementary schools. This year, he also volunteered as a mentor for six new Junior FLL teams in the area.

We have been impressed by Nikhilís creative abilities to get children excited about science and technology. He has a gift for working with young scientists, encouraging FLL and Junior FLL team members to take on challenges by motivating them with guiding questions and suggestions. The retention rate of FLL team members to FIRST Team 781 is a credit to his dedication as an FLL mentor.

Despite being close to graduation, Nikhil believes strongly in ensuring the sustainability of the Kinetic Knights. Understanding the value of FIRST Lego League, Nikhil brought an official qualifying FLL regional back to Kincardine in 2013.

As tournament director of Kincardineís FLL regional, Nikhilís maturity and managerial prowess were on full display. Peggy Scott of FIRST Canada was impressed with his work, and he was recognized as the tournamentís Outstanding Volunteer. We were incredibly proud of Nikhilís pre-tournament preparations and his ability to deal with any problems as they arose.

Nikhil enjoys a challenge! To further support and grow the FLL involvement in our community, he initiated a campaign to enhance the program. With his vision for the future of FLL, he prepared presentations to secure support from local school boards, planned and implemented the Sci-Tech summer program, and coached our Junior FLL and FLL teams. 

He has increased interest in the program and provided the prospect of expanding FLL to other schools in the area.

Nikhil has been a key member of the build team since his rookie season. He rarely misses a build session, and has developed a wide range of technical skills. He devotes a considerable number of hours working on the robot every year. He also plays a vital role in building a practice field and constructing the practice robot. 

This year, he took on the challenge of building and experimenting with a 3D printer that was donated to the team. He was able to create several models and continues to fine-tune his understanding of the technology so that the printer can be used to create parts for the teamís robot.

In his second season, Nikhil was chosen as the teamís Head Scout. At competitions, he created scouting schedules and managed a team of younger students. Given his expertise in robot construction and game strategy, he consistently serves as our pit scout at competitions.

Nikhil is an exemplary FIRST ambassador, actively participating in community outreach events, such as parent information nights, Grade 8 recruitment events, the Terry Fox Run, car shows, Multicultural Night, Relay for Life, and the Bruce Power Beach Party. 

Recently, he organized visits to two local elementary schools for a family math night to share his enthusiasm for science, math, and technology. The only thing more certain than Nikhilís participation in our outreach events is that he will be smiling from ear-to-ear the entire time.

Nikhil is a committed, invested, and passionate member of FIRST Team 781. He is always ready to lend a hand, teach someone something new, or learn something new himself. He exemplifies FIRSTís core beliefs and will be pursuing a degree in mechatronics engineering come September. 

He is the kind of student that genuinely deserves to be recognized, and we were hard-pressed to find a nicer student to nominate.  It is without reservation that we recommend Nikhil Deshpande for the Deanís List Award.

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Monday, March 10, 2014