Last year, our main student programmer couldn’t make it to a Stronghold competition where we competed. Mark, as a sophomore, took the lead, and actually was able to figure out a programming problem that we’d struggled with all year. It’s this move-forward attitude that showcases why we are nominating Mark for the 2017 Dean’s List Award.

Mark never gets short with anyone. He understands his own limits and will stay composed, cool, and patient when under stress. This season Mark was using an old robot to prototype using an encoder on our fuel shooter, training more inexperienced students. Instead of getting upset when the other students were goofing around, Mark led by example, staying calm and focused. Because of him, we will have students who are capable of programming in years to come.

Mark has grown from a kid that was afraid of failing into a young man who is willing to try new things regardless of how they turn out. Yes, failure still sometimes frustrates him, as it does all of us, but, he has learned that even in failure there is success through learning. When adapting to a new vision tracking system, the Pixy camera, he didn’t hesitate to experiment. He has begun to give the other team members challenges and let them fail until they succeed, passing on this lesson to not fear failure.

As a programmer, Mark has always had skills with syntax. His abilities have grown in the areas of organization, planning and structure. Just the other day, he very happily said, “Hey look, we almost have no code in the main robot.” Why is this important? It demonstrates that, instead of just piling more code in the same place, he used methods to structure the code before writing, thus creating modularity. This is more the “art” of coding that some people never quite grasp.

Mark is also championing the use of Github to backup code. This is something that a programmer should always learn yet has been a failure on our team for many years. Mark is embracing the things a leader needs to do to ensure his team has the best opportunity for success.

Dedicated to increasing the awareness of FIRST in Indiana, Mark participates in many of our team’s outreach activities. For example, this past year, at the GenCon League of Extraordinary Programmers demo, Mark inspired local software developers to become involved in FIRST as mentors and volunteers. At the Science and Exchange fair that took place at the J.W. Marriott he presented FIRST and our team to interested potential supporters.

A Junior at Lawrence North High School, Mark’s academic success is apparent just by looking at his GPA of 4.0+. His future is bright no matter what he decides to study in college, but we are grateful that we have one more year with him as a member of the Kil-A-Bytes.