Lorenzo Santillan Quotes in Spare Parts
There were teams from across the country, including students from MIT, who were sponsored by ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded company. The Latino kids were from Carl Hayden Community High School in West Phoenix.
As a NASA employee, she had become accustomed to working with engineers who conformed to a sort of industry standard: white, well educated, conservative clothes. These four teenagers standing in front of her signaled that the future looked different.
The chief lesson Lorenzo learned was that it was important to be creative. Hugo wasn’t running a normal mechanic’s shop, with a wall full of tools and shelves filled with supplies. He had little money, a small set of hand tools, and his ingenuity. To survive, he had to come up with fresh ideas and adapt.
I've got to create something that doesn't compete with other science centers; it's got to compete with the World Series and the Super Bowl. I’ve got to find a way to make science and technology cool.
Lorenzo felt his father didn’t have any respect for him, Hugo wouldn’t let him use the tools in the driveway, and the kids around school mocked him for his strange looks. Now a teacher was entrusting him with the lives of a handful of fish. To most people, it might not seem like a lot, but to Lorenzo it was unprecedented.
The whole point was to give the guys a chance to accomplish something beyond what they thought possible. But if they showed up at the event and failed utterly, it would only reinforce the impression that they didn't belong in the contest in the first place. That could leave a kid such as Lorenzo with a permanent sense of inferiority.
For Lorenzo, the robotics team was like a new family. In some respects, Fredi and Allan were surrogate parents, constantly advising him and pushing him to do better. […] A team spirit had developed. Lorenzo wasn't the only one sitting in the front row of his classes.
To Fredi, this was a battle for the future of an unusual but talented kid. He appreciated Lorenzo's offbeat ideas and felt that the long-haired goofball had genuine talent. But Lorenzo was caught in the tractor-beam pull of poverty and low expectations.
Fredi was impressed. It was a practical, cheap, and ingenious solution. […]
“You did it,” Fredi said, clapping Lorenzo on the shoulder.
Lorenzo responded with a big smile. “I did it.”
“It needs a name,” Lorenzo said.
Oscar remembered Lorenzo’s choking on the glue fumes and suggested, “Why don’t we call it Stinky?”
The group also offered some of the same benefits of being in a gang. Now that he hung out with Luis on campus, Lorenzo found that other students were less likely to make fun of him.
It reminded them that they were doing something they had never done before. In Phoenix, they were called illegal aliens and pegged as criminals. They were alternately viewed as American, Mexican, or neither. Now, for a moment, they were simply teenagers at a robotics competition by the ocean.
But in this moment, Oscar realized that Lorenzo was intensely committed. Good engineering solutions had value. But, to Oscar, doing things that no one else wanted to do, toughing it out and being a soldier, that's what counted.
Stinky represented this low-tech approach to engineering. But that was exactly what had impressed the judges.
“If the really long list of immigrant inventors who have made this country and the world a much better place is to stop here and now, we will also likely become the newest declining nation,” one reader commented.
In reality, life is more complicated. The attention paid to the team as a result of their victory coincided with a backlash against immigrants in Arizona.