By Howard Cohen, with assistance from Melissa Savin and Kristian Calhoun, 2010
“Mike Lubniewski’s mind is like a Black Hole that draws in everything. His Enthusiasm is that of a kitten that plays with a ball of string. He’s got the heart of gold that your grandmother would have,” quotes Walter Suchowiecki, a mentor from Raider Robotix. Mike Lubniewski exhibits every single quality of a Woodie Flowers Award Winner and excels all candidates; he is the epitome of an excellent FIRST Mentor. Mike’s plethora of enthusiasm and dedication serves as the heart of Team 25; his imagination and creativity pumps the team and his excitement for engineering circulates immensely throughout the whole team.
He pushes the boundaries of creativity by striving to do the impossible. He thinks outside the box, and his eccentricity inspires every single student to share their ideas as well, as he is sure their ideas are not as insane as his plans. Nevertheless, Shaun McNulty, Raider Robotix’s drive coach states, “The students trust Mike’s input, and together, Mike unites the team by incorporating all the complex, seemingly impractical ideas, into a powerhouse robot that sweeps away all competition.” Mike also has an exceptional way of communicating not only his ideas but also his strategies and dilemmas. In spite of his degree in engineering, Mike still asks numerous questions and is always on the race for knowledge. He is not afraid to ask for help, and all these positive qualities motivate students not only to solve problems efficiently but also to practice outstanding gracious professionalism, as students learn to help one another overcome complex tasks.
Mike’s enthusiasm for FIRST, engineering, science, math, the students, and the team overall is shown by his invaluable dedication. Mike is employed by Bristol Myers Squibb as an engineer; despite his full-time job, he works on the robot every single day, in collaboration with the students. “What if…” and “Wouldn’t it be cool if….” are Mike’s coined phrases on our team; he is always ten steps ahead and always sparks incredible ideas in the minds of students and mentors alike. However, he is more than willing to slow down for students and explain intricate ideas to them, sparking even more revelations. Morgan Gillespie, our leading student driver, explains, “Being able to come to Mike with a given problem, he can take your work and build right off of it, spin it around, and turn it into a working final product. This trait is absolutely invaluable. At the same time, he will come to you with an idea so crazy that not one other person believes he can do it, but he will see it through to the end and make the unbelievable possible. Every team needs a Mike, a guy who will not take no for an answer.”
For example, in 2008 at the Hawaii Regional, Mike continuously called the team because he was not able to attend. From New Jersey, he adjusted his clock to the six hour time difference, and his eyes were glued to the webcast. After every match and almost every hour of the day, including 4 a.m., the team would receive a call from Mike making sure the robot, the students, and everything in competition was going to very well. These qualities evoke the gentle side of Mike, who is very concerned about the team, as opposed to the rigorous, potent Mike one notices as he attacks problems. Without Mike Lubniewski, the Raider Robotix body would not have a heart to function. Bharat Nain, team mentor, states, “Mike gives us inspiration, hope, and in many ways, passion beyond belief. His love for engineering is unmatchable to his love for Team 25.”