Here at Flex Seal®, we celebrate ingenuity and creativity. Getting the opportunity to provide future leaders and innovators with products that help put their know-how on display in captivating and inspiring ways is what Phil Swift and the Flex Seal Family are all about.
That’s why the Flex Seal Family of Products proudly partnered with FIRST® to donate up to 500 rolls of Flex Tape for teams to use in their builds for this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition. And the ways the teams put our Flex Tape to use is remarkable.
FIRST Robotics is a nationwide community that gives students all around the country an opportunity to compete in various Robotics competitions which put their skills to the test. The robots the students build are not only impressive because of their intricacy and use of advanced programming but also because they’re completely conceptualized, designed, constructed, and operated by the students themselves. Each year the builds get more advanced, and the community strengthens during their exciting live end-of-year competition. However, this year things were very different.
Due to COVID everything changed, in-person events were cancelled and FIRST had to move into the virtual realm, with teams competing across the country, remotely. This added unique challenges for the competitors, but the endless hours of video calls didn’t stop these students from remotely Flexing tenacious and enterprising designs.
When Phil noticed a team requested a donation package right here in our own backyard, he decided to show a little hometown love and sent a few extra surprises to team #5472 over at American Heritage High School. Said Phil, “After all the craziness this year has thrown at school age kids, we need to do something to help support these students in the FIRST Robotics Competition because they’re the best! Their ingenuity, creativity, and awesome intelligence is exactly how this world will become a better place.”
Tai Donovan is American Heritage’s Robotics Program Director and Robotics Team Coach. Donovan and his team have been huge Phil Swift and Flex Seal fans for a very long time, integrating Flex Seal products in their designs in clever, engaging, and inventive ways. So, needless to say, when they got the call that Flex Seal was partnering with FIRST Robotics this year, the kids were bursting with excitement.
Coach Donovan expressed that he became a Flex Fan because of the product. But what really drove him into Flex products were the kids. “I was surprised how heavily invested they were in Flex Seal products. I didn’t realize how far-reaching Flex Seal was with all the videos, the memes, and when they heard Flex Seal would be involved this year, they were overjoyed.”
The team puts their love of all things Flex proudly on display, with life-size cutouts of Phil peeking out all over the lab. But the team doesn’t just love Phil, they also love using the products routinely in their builds for competitions and even sometimes for fun. Going so far as to create their very own version of the iconic Flex Seal commercial. In it, the team saws a robot completely in half, puts it back together with Flex Tape, and then drives it around. It was a fun bonding experience that got the whole team involved, from cutting and repairing the robot, to writing the script, filming, and editing their own commercial.
For the FIRST competition this year, Donovan said they are using Flex Tape to adhere their control board and electronic pieces to whatever surfaces they need. From the power distribution board to the voltage regulator module, having a product that keeps components where they should be, is huge for the team and everything they need in such a high-action competition.
Covered in Flex Seal stickers, the team’s robot deftly moves through the course, controlled remotely by a student. The precision and capabilities of the robot are captivating to watch. It's designed to suck dodge balls into a chamber, paint a target using an advanced laser guidance system, and then use a mechanical arm to launch the balls with consistent accuracy. It is an innovative and impressive creation.
From every-day in-class lessons to FIRST Robotics competitions, Coach Donovan has found a way to not only educate and inspire his students but also encourage them to use everyday products like Flex Tape in extraordinary ways. One Junior on the team described his experience with Donovan and FIRST as being, “about bringing us together to create something bigger than ourselves.” Which is exactly what the future of innovation is all about.
Phil Swift invented Flex Seal to help provide a solution that could make an everyday difference in people's lives. FIRST gives students the same opportunity, and that’s why we had to get involved. Future innovators need our encouragement and support to see that they too can invent solutions that improve all our futures, and there is no greater Flex than that.