Joyce Gerry: Fundraising, Purchasing / Inventory, Compliance – 20 years
Mike Hayes: Fundraising, Chairman’s Award, Mentoring – 21 years
Brad Jones: (Retired, 2014): Design and Manufacturing Support
Cathy Park: (Retired, 2015): Trip Planning, Spirit
CIA – Creativity In Action (Team #291) was started in 1999 by General Electric mentors who had previously mentored Team 63, The Red Barons, one year before. We actually began our history with the name “The Tenacious Technomotivators”. We changed this to CIA the next year since the original name had proven difficult to market and harder yet to chant. Although the team was founded by students from Central High School and Villa Maria Academy, it was later expanded to include students from Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy as well as several other area schools.
At first our team dressed in all black (what else would you expect of the CIA?), but in 2006, we adopted our iconic neon orange. We made the change to orange and black since it was a unique color scheme. Our win rate rose considerably in the years immediately following that decision so we stuck with our eye-popping orange.
What started twenty one years ago as a relatively inexperienced group of engineers and students who didn’t even know that scouting other teams was permitted, has grown into a cohesive and well-rounded team. We now have an effective organizational structure, lucrative fundraising efforts, computer-modeled designs, an orderly pit area, comprehensive scouting, and an impressive amount of community outreach. We hold teleconferences for other FRC teams and arrange mentoring support for every one of the FLL and FLL Jr teams in our school district. We hold golf tournaments, host murder mystery dinner theaters, and give sponsorship presentations. In short, we do a little of everything.
The teams total graduation rate is 100%, and 86% of this year’s team members intend to pursue careers in science or engineering. We are all partners in our team. We describe the student-mentor relationship as a “bicycle built for two” with the students in front – both groups pedal and, although the mentors offer guidance, the students are the ones steering