September 27, 2008

And So It Begins!

Greetings faithful readers, and welcome back to another exciting year of Carnegie Mellon Solar Splash action!

It has been an exciting few weeks for us as we have been heavily involved in recruiting, grant writing, and getting set up with some new resources. This kick-off post is designed to get you up to speed with our developments and display some pictures from our Team BBQ last Friday.

In Good Hands:
First things first, let me give you a formal introduction to this year's organizational leadership:
The appointed leaders for our divisions are:
Business and Marketing: Riddhi Roy
Hull: Michael Barako
Power Management: David Bromberg
Propulsion: Giridhar Pathak

I have full confidence that these four people will do a fantastic job this year. They are not only competent in what they do, but are also there to motivate others and help provide vision for the organization. I very much look forward to working with them this year.

Cheers to New Beginnings:
In addition to your old favorites, we have had a very good recruiting season, and have brought a lot of really bright people onto the team. We've had some great responses across the board, from Freshmen to Seniors, and I'm really looking forward to growing and learning with these talented new people.

We also have some valuable new sponsors this year that will help propel our team to new heights. Thanks to excellent work by team member Austin Buchan, we now have a sponsorship by National Instruments, who have graciously donated some of there hardware to our team. With their equipment, the Power Management team may be able to create both a custom motor controller and a custom charge controller by the end of the year. We are also in the process of working with 3M for some material sponsorship, and are looking forward to how their products can help our team. In addition, we are finishing up details for a grant from Ford Motor Company and are hoping to continue our past sponsorship with R.K. Mellon, and the upcoming SURG program. A full list of our sponsors for this year will be updated on our website once details are ironed out.

Grillin' and Greetin':

Of course, no update would be complete without a few pictures of the team in action, and what better time than at our Fall Barbecue! And of course, it wouldn't be CMSS if there wasn't a story behind it.
It begins, as all campus barbecues do, with a faithful trip from the High Bay to the Cut via Forbes Ave.

We were able to successfully navigate the hectic Forbes traffic with the help of team-members Mike Cushman, David Bromberg, Steven Mead, and Andrew Moore, as well as CMSS-appreciator Ben Berkowitz.

After reaching the cut, a few of the team took it upon themselves to clean out the communal grill, for everyone's benefit.

After cleaning, the setup began, and we fought off the wind and cold until the fire got going, with some help from the ingenuity of Andrew Moore and Robbie Wedler.

Finally, after 30 minutes of wrestling with the grill, we assembled the team and we were off to a flying start. Let me tell you, Kevin flips a fine burger, if I do say so myself.

^ Credit goes to Riddhi for getting this pretty clutch picture of Kevin. ^

We got a large portion of the team out at one point or another during the day, and it was great to see a good mix of new members, old members, and occasional random confused students who got to learn a little bit more about what we do. All in all, pretty good fun.

We also had an opportunity to take a new team photo, which we'll hopefully be rolling out to the website over the next few weeks:

Unfortunately, we only had a portion of the whole team there, but it was the best we could do given the circumstances. Thanks go to Jennifer Lawrence for helping us out by taking the picture.

And like any good story, this one would not be complete without a little intrigue and tension.
On the way back from the fence our trusty handcart for the boat gave way and lost its front wheels. As the skies began to open, unleashing its droplets of cold electronics-damaging wetness upon us, we had to think quick and get Nessie back to her home. We manned tarps and towels to protect her valuable innards, took the front of the trailer in our hands, and carried Nessie back down Forbes. Once again our faithfully unreliable hand-trailer has absorbed more of the blood, sweat, and tears of its keepers. Thanks to the sacrifices of our team members, Nessie is safely back in the High Bay and we can go about finding a solution to this chronic hand-trailer problem.

Looking Ahead:
As someone entering their senior year at CMU, you can feel a variety of feelings. Some feel happy to have made it this far and still be alive. Some start to feel anxious about life outside of what we have known. Some feel a sense of regret for all of the things they wish they had done, as well as a sense of urgency to check the last few items off their list while they still can. Most probably just feel tired.

For me, I feel this sense of tingling excitement.

This excitement is not for all the things I plan on doing, or the people I will meet, or plans I will make.

This excitement is because I have seen the type of people who are involved in this project, as well as the type of people who are just starting to get involved. This excitement is because I know that no matter how great my expectations, this group of people will somehow be able to exceed them.
Every week new challenges and trials seem to raise their heads, but every week the people around me step up and perform with greater resilience than they did before. I almost enjoy hearing about new difficulties, because I ardently believe that, so long as we have the right resources, there is nothing that this team can't do.

I am excited for this year, not because I know what this team can do, but for the exact reason that I don't know.
There seems to be this limitless capacity for innovative and creative thinking among our members, and all I know at this stage is that exploring this year with them is going to be one of my best experiences thus far. I am ready to be amazed, like I have been time and time again, by the struggles and triumphs of this team as we go forward. The projects we have planned are not easy, but I cannot think of any other people who I would rather have working on them.

In the end, it is important to realize one thing:

At Carnegie Mellon Solar Splash, we do not build boats, we build people.

Our members are our greatest byproduct. If we can build a world-class racing boat while doing so, all the better. The competition gives us a goal, but the people are what makes us a team.

Until next time!
- Mark Fuge
CMSS President 08-09

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