The New Shaeer in Town: Meet Jamil Shaeer
It’s been almost 19 years since Jamil Shaeer attended Dos Pueblos High School, but now he’s back to help Team 1717 for the six high-intensity weeks of build season.
Jamil is the younger brother of Amir Abo-Shaeer, director and founder of the DPEA. He became involved with the DPEA after his brother convinced him to watch Team 1717 compete in the 2008 FIRST robotics championships. He entered the Georgia Dome thinking that it was the nerdiest thing he had ever seen, and about 10 minutes later resolved that it was quite possibly the coolest thing he had ever seen. Ever since that day, he has attended and coached at all Team 1717’s competitions and has wanted to become even more involved with the team. For six weeks, he has delayed starting his new job at a startup company that will make a new kind of atomic clock, in order to mentor for robotics, give back to the community, spend some time with his brother, and play a bigger part in this truly remarkable experience. PenguiNews sat down with Jamil Shaeer to get to know him a little better.
What do you do in the DPEA?
I’m involved in project management. I help with getting parts made and ordered and with some of the actual machining. Basically I’m here to kind of grease the wheels; I make sure that the parts for the robot are being made and people know what they’re doing. I’m also a robotics mentor. I’m not on a specific team but I work with all the teams in general. Sometimes I’ll work with the programming team and figure out some strategy, and other times I’ll work with other teams to get parts and drawings made. I fill in where I’m needed.
What is your favorite part of being a robotics mentor?
The most exciting moment is when the light comes on and the kids understand it. Normal classes are checking off boxes. Kids want to get their 95 percent and their ‘A’, but here a 95 percent is a failure. It’s 100 percent or nothing. Ultimately, we are going to put a robot on the field and it’s going to move or it’s not going to move. Our goal is to make it move, to play the game, and to play it well. Students here go from this mode of thinking where they just need to check a box, to how do I do more and how can we make this thing better. I think usually by the first competition when we compete, and compete well, people get fired up and start thinking how can we make this robot better. Even if we win the competition it’s not “O.K. we can quit now,” it’s “how can we keep improving?” To see people get fired up and to want to really make something an excellent product is very exciting. It shows that here in the DPEA, we’ve gone beyond the standard school. We are really fired up about what we’re doing and we’re doing something really cool.
Do you like working with your brother?
I do like working with my brother, but six weeks is about as much as I can take! In my previous job people listened to me more; I didn’t listen to people much. Now, I’m Amir’s right hand man. I have my own ideas so it’s a little tough, but certainly he knows what he’s doing. It’s fun to be supportive of my brother and my family and really great to be able to take part in his success in competitions. Now that I’m older, I obviously don’t live with my siblings anymore, so it’s cool and unique to have this six-week period where we can work together.
Will you come back to work with DPEA students next year?
Probably. My old job was in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington DC. Now I’m in California so it’s likely that I’ll be able to come here at different points to help out.