Ah Rodney Brooks, when I was a kid my folks divorced and my father would send me interesting magazines in the mail every so often. One showed up and happened to have a picture of an insect-like robot on the cover. I can’t remember the magazine name but the article was about Rodney Brooks’ work at MIT. I read it so much I pretty much had it memorized word for word.
I was in love with robotics from then on, at my rural HS (my class had a whopping 20 students) my Algebra teacher showed me a flyer for the USFirst robotics competition. I led our team of 4 and did very well, we never made it to the national competition but our little 1A HS was in the top 5 in our state every year I was there.
MIT was way out of my reach academically but I made it to UT Arlington and eventually found my way to their Autonomous Vehicle Systems lab. Another underdog team that delivered. We did exceptionally well in a worldwide competition year after year and the friends and tech I got exposed to in that lab defined my career.
Thanks Rodney :)