COVID-19, RoboBoat, and SPEAR
A message from S.P.E.A.R President and Seminole Coast Team Lead, Toni Weaver
As everyone knows, COVID-19 has disrupted the work, school and day to day routines of lives across the globe and S.P.E.A.R. is no exception to this massive disruption. With the cancellation of the in-person portion of RoboBoat 2020 and FSU Panama City going to only virtual classes, it has been harder than ever for our team to continue working on our goals. We assessed the challenges and planned accordingly. As our team adapted to our new social distancing norms, we also established new goals as a team and are worked towards them.
As a founding member of both Seminole Coast and S.P.E.A.R. I have witnessed our team thrive in under dense pressure before. Also, unprecedented times are not unfamiliar to our organization.
In October 2018, just as Seminole Coast formed as an organization, Hurricane Michael hit our city. Many of our team lost our houses and our town was brought to a complete stand still for months. Many of our sponsors were forced to back out as they began to recover their livelihoods. During the weeks that followed, it was suggested many times that our team should give up on going to RoboBoat 2019, and instead focus on going to the competition in 2020.
However, in the face of overwhelming circumstances, we refused to give up. We worked with our school’s administration and student government council to get the funds needed to compete. We begged, borrowed, and pleaded to get the needed sensors and components for the boat. At the competition, our team worked endlessly to overcome any obstacles that cropped up during the competition. In the end, we were awarded 5th place in the static judgement category, and received sponsorships from Teledyne, Jetson and Blue Robotics.
After the 2019 competition, our team was more determined than ever to compete again in the RoboBoat competition. This past year we had every day to create the best boat and software possible. In March, when FSU made the responsible decision to move to virtual classes to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus, our team continued to work together virtually to keep our momentum going. When the in-person competition was canceled, the team was unanimous in the desire to work towards the 2021 competition, even though most of the team will have graduated by June 2021.
RoboBoat is but one part of what SPEAR means to us. As our officers graduate and hand the organization to the next class of FSU Panama City and Gulf Coast State College students, we remain committed to helping this organization grow. Our organization was built on the determination of students seeking to experience more than just classes, but to learn from the creation of ideas into projects, and that does not change, no matter the challenge our organization will face.