Is It Too Late | West Virginia University Undergraduate Application Essay

There was no way around it. I’d ruined the robot.

I knew it from the first bend in the aluminum. My teammates hadn’t noticed yet. When you’re in the middle of a robotics competition, there’s a lot to think about. Do the wire connections need re-tinning? How’s your battery life? Is the drive train holding up? Not to mention the hundreds of family members shouting from the arena seats. Or the other teams praying that your 15-inch-tall mechanical contender will lose a wheel or drop a bolt or fail to shoot a mini-basketball into a child-size hoop.

But I saw it—the cheap chassis straining each time the treads bounced over a steel ball bearing. It was seconds away from snapping. And then everyone else would notice too. My teammates would see it, the ones who elected me captain as a sophomore when our senior leader decided he’d rather spend the semester with beer kegs than band saws. The know-it-all freshman saw it, my rival who sneered at my decision to go with the lighter 1/32-inch aluminum frame when anyone with a brain would opt for the 1/16. My dad was watching from the stands, just like he watched me across the hood of his Nissan pick-up every Sunday morning while quizzing me on engine parts. My grandfather sat next to him, the…

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