- By Terry Jacoby/weloveannarbor.com
Kevin Sun is one of those students who walks into high school with eyes wide open, heart pumping and the confidence to say, “I got this.” Wherever he turned he saw opportunity and a chance to not only better himself, but meet new friends and face new challenges along the way.
Sun is now a senior at Skyline HS and takes a 4.0 GPA into the final weeks of his final year. During his four years, he played in the Skyline Symphony Orchestra and was a member of a number of organizations including Skyline Orchestra Council, Student Action Senate (one of four presidents) , Tri-M Music Honor Society (president) and National Honor Society.
But one of his true passions and a highlight of his time at Skyline was being a member of the Skyline Robotics Team.
“Since the days I spent in elementary school building all sorts of LEGO creations, I knew I was interested in engineering,” says Kevin, the son of Lingling Sun and Xiankui Sun. “Coming up with an idea then seeing it gradually come alive as I built it was fascinating, and I wanted to keep learning more to build more complex designs. When I heard that Skyline had a robotics team where students could learn real life engineering skills and apply it in a professional environment, I was eager to join.”
Sun says he really liked how there was an endless amount of things to learn and challenges to face and overcome.
“In my time on the robotics team, I have gained many inspirations from teammates, mentors, and other teams in the FIRST robotics community, which has improved my knowledge and experience in both engineering and leadership,” he says.
This year’s Skyline team was built on a combination of brains, hard work and good times. “Our team is very driven to meet all of our goals in the build season and we have extremely dedicated members that spend many hours on robotics,” Sun said. “We also like to balance hard work with fun so you’ll often find us having a good laugh at lunch, listening to music in the workshop, or doing some goofy shenanigans here and there throughout the day.”
The Skyline team was fortunate to have competed at the Week 1 robotics competition at Kettering University before FIRST suspended the season due to COVID-19. Skyline ended the qualification matches at rank 2, the highest they have placed since 2012.
“I was very proud of the team’s performance,” says Sun, one of three captains on the team. “Actually, it was a very ambitious goal of ours to compete so early because we usually wait until Week 3 to compete. Despite the shorter time period, we were able to finish our fully functional robot early and allow the drive team to have much needed practice. Our hard work paid off and we had an amazing performance at Kettering, being one of the most efficient goal scoring robots at the event.”
Sun, who also led the scouting and strategy teams, was one of three captains and says he was always looking at the team on a big-picture level to make sure they were moving in the right direction towards their goals.
“I come up with ideas on how we can improve our team, whether it is by making the building process more efficient, establishing a more solid team structure, or starting new initiatives to recruit members, raise our public image, and improve team chemistry,” he says. “I also spend a lot of time reading about other teams’ experiences or talking with them in person to find out how successful teams operate.
“We had a good group of strong leaders who were able to work well together and ensure that these changes could be successfully implemented.”
And there were plenty of highlights along the way during the last four years for Sun and his Skyline teammates.
“The biggest highlight occurred in my first year on the team at a competition in Alpena,” he says. “We were the eighth-seeded alliance playing against the first seed and we upset them in a monumental victory. That win showed us that we are capable of competing at a high level and we should continue to work hard and aim high.”
Sun will be attending the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering next year and says robotics helped him gain some sense of how engineering operates in real life.
“By giving me opportunities to practice leadership in varying aspects, robotics has also helped me see that I could impact the world by being a leader in the engineering field,” he says.
The Skyline Robotics team’s mission statement is, “To Create, To Empower, To Inspire.”
Kevin Sun accomplished all of those and more during his time at Skyline HS.