Award submission from FIRST Robotics Competition Team 234 “Cyber Blue” for Chris Fultz, winner of the 2010 Woodie Flowers Award:
Chris Fultz, lead mentor, always guides our team towards balance, success in FIRST, “the big picture,” and a clear vision of what we can be.
Chris teaches us, through example, to never stop seeking new challenges. He pushes us to keep growing our projects, community outreach, and team involvement. Chris leads us in developing ideas and tackling challenging projects during the summer and fall. He helps us reach out to other FIRST teams.
Chris strongly believes in student leadership. He loves hearing us explain engineering, FIRST, and our team to others. He encourages us to lead meetings and teach our peers but is still there to guide us. Chris initiated the use of student presenters at the Championship Forums, breaking the tradition of mentor-only presentations (FIRST has adopted this policy and recommends teams use student/mentor combinations as Forums presenters).
Chris’ most notable impact on our team is the implementation of “real world” engineering. Each season, Chris leads us in discussion from formal game requirements to robot design. Through his leadership, we have implemented a Critical Design Review where senior engineers from our sponsors serve as a panel for our student-led review. We learn to present our ideas and defend them as we are critiqued. At the end of each season, Chris engages us in lessons learned review to help us improve continuously.
His effectiveness in growing future leaders is evident at Purdue University and IUPUI, where Cyber Blue alumni have started rookie teams and continue as mentors. Chris’ mentorship doesn’t end when members graduate; he continues to stay connected with them, encouraging them in their new leadership roles. He works tirelessly to secure co-op and internship opportunities for current students and alumni of FIRST programs. Many of our alumni are now Rolls-Royce employees.
Each fall, Chris leads us in projects that help us grow in our technical knowledge. Chris has led us through Design of Experiments processes to evaluate belt versus chain drives. He helped us design experiments to test belt drives in simulated FRC situations. We published our results to share with FIRST and presented our findings at the Championship Forums. He worked with Team 221 “LLC” to allow us to help in the development of their new “Wild Swerve” modules. Rather than purchasing the modules, we worked with their prototypes to learn the system. We wrote the assembly instructions that the company now ships with each set.
Chris’ influence doesn’t end with Team 234. At Rolls-Royce, he is a member of the Engineering Education Committee and has been instrumental in Rolls-Royce’s funding of all central Indiana teams, The Championship Forums, and the Boilermaker Regional. He worked to present Indianapolis as an option for the new site of the FIRST Championship. He recruited Cyber Blue students to share our team’s experiences with FIRST visitors to Indianapolis.
Chris helped grow the Indiana Robotics Invitational to 72 teams from across the globe. He has played an important role in securing sponsors of scholarships for students attending the IRI. He spearheads a fundraiser which benefits a local charity each year. He encourages our students to not just compete, but to volunteer, learn, and lead at this event.
“Try to see the bigger picture – the robot is almost a distraction – focus on the learning, on teamwork, on defending your ideas, on being proud of what you have done, and on the friendships you can develop. The FIRST experience is so much more than robot matches.” Chris Fultz’s advice from his Unsung FIRST Hero interview exemplifies his perspective and impact on our team and the FIRST community.