Featured Imgaes In Focus

ENGINEER TAKES ON PINEWOOD ROBOTICS

KATRINA HOUGH

STAFF WRITER

   Dean Reece may not be a Pinewood student or a member of
the Pinewood faculty, but he is more than just a parent to the
Pinewood community. Reece is the mentor for Pinewood’s very own Robotics Club and the parent of freshman Jordan Reece and
junior Sarah Reece.

   At Pinewood he assists students in creating new robots each
year to compete in
annual competitions.

  By mentoring this club, Reece commits to being on the Pinewood campus every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, loaning materials and
tools for students, and guiding students to learn to build machines
and program.

   “My involvement with Pinewood Robotics gives me a great deal
of perspective on campus life that I would
never have if I wasn’t on campus for several hours every
week. When I’m talking with my kids about school, I can picture exactly what they are describing,” Reece said.

   In 2012, Reece was approached by a Pinewood mom, who
told him students at Pinewood were interested in forming a robotics
club. Reece was immediately intrigued and went to talk to
the student founder Tiffany Chen, class of 2013. Reece then
attended a lunch meeting to discuss the formation of this group
and became the mentor.

   Reece is very involved with engineering outside of school.
Even when he was young he expressed interests in building and
engineering. Since robotics was not an option for Reece when he
was in high school, he feels excited to be involved in the club at Pinewood, where his children and their friends can participate in something he truly loves.

   “I’ve always been interested in mechanisms and electronics,
and even from an early age I would disassemble any discarded
piece of technology to figure out how it worked and save
the most interesting parts.” Reece said.

   Reece currently works at Apple, which allows him to sponsor
the Robotics team as well. Although Reece works at Apple,
his occupation does not have as much as an influence as one
might think. Knowing how to program the robot is
particularly helpful, but very little of the software development he
does at work is transferable to the work students do
in robotics.

   “Mr. Reece has positively affected our robotics club significantly. As a mentor, he brings great ideas on how to improve
our robot and win competitions; it is thanks to him that we
were able to rank twelfth out of 32 teams in Cal Games,”
junior Raika Kim said.

   “He is a great mentor to both the high school and junior
high robotics teams. He tries to keep a hands-off approach while teaching to make sure you get as much experience as
possible while learning new skills to make sure you are
learning them as best you can,” sophomore Alex Banning said.

   Reece’s favorite part has been interacting with the students at Pinewood and being involved in the Pinewood community. Both of Reece’s children have participated in robotics
at one point or another, and he has found his presence on campus makes him aware of the places and things they talk about. As a mentor, Reece loves seeing a student’s eyes light up when they understand a new concept.

   “I particularly enjoy that moment when a kid makes a mental
connection and understands something new, whether it’s programming, wiring, mechanics, or fabrication. Seeing a kid that didn’t know how to operate a saw the week before now able to measure
and safely cut pieces of metal for the robot is very rewarding for me,” Reece said.

   Reece’s knowledge and congeniality makes his presence at
Pinewood enjoyable for him, his children, and all Pinewood
students who get to interact and learn from him.

   “While he is very knowledgeable about robots and engineering, I love that he lets us learn by ourselves by giving us hands-on
opportunities. He respects our opinions and tries them, so that
we see where our idea works and where it might not work. The
best part is that he knows how to have fun and work at the
same time,” Kim said.

Leave a Comment