Who is Marshall? MentorBuilt investigates

During last Tuesday's FIRST TV broadcast, in the middle of the hour-long discussion about Stop Build Day, there was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment where an important question was posed, considered for a beat, and left unanswered.

"Who is Marshall?"  The question echoes in our mind.

MentorBuilt set out to investigate.  Not to worry, Frank: we'll get the answer to this important question, and we'll also determine if he's like a mentor or something.

First, we made an exhaustive list of all the Marshalls we know:
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Marshal law
  • Marshall Faulk
  • James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix
  • Marshalls, a chain of department stores
  • Marshall Amplification
  • Marshawn Lynch
  • USS Marshall (DD-676)
  • Marshall University
  • Marshall Islands
  • Marshall Mathers
  • The Marshall Tucker Band

This was a good start, and although we understand that Jimi Hendrix could really shred on an electric guitar, we didn't feel like we were any closer to our goal of finding someone who would film himself "shredding a bag."

Seeing no other options, we did what most FRC people do when they have an inane question to ask.  We got online and consulted the great oracle of Chief Delphi!

Straight away, in a reply to a thread not even remotely about the Cost Accounting Worksheet, we found him:

Marshall, we discovered, is indeed a mentor!  He mentors FRC team 900, The Zebracorns, in Durham, North Carolina.

It turns out that he's extremely outspoken on such diverse topics as deleting the CAW, improving program sustainability for low-resource teams, and soliciting pictures of your balls.

Marshall's other interests include:
  • powering mandatory control components with USB battery packs,
  • powering COTS computing devices with dictionaries,
  • prognosticating future changes to FRC build season rules which retroactively require robot designs and code to be published before kickoff, and
  • wondering if he should write a ROS node for his toaster.

So, who is Marshall, and why would he shred a bag?  As we discovered in our investigation, Marshall leads a FRC team which regularly defies expectations and challenges tradition.  Marshall is equipped with an extensive bag of tricks that he's unafraid to deploy: harpoons, sandbags, GEMs, the LRI-a-roo, super-capacitors, Merriam-Webster's, and more.  The bag never stood a chance against such an arsenal.

On Thursday last week, Marshall hosted a webinar on the FIRST Choice and the virtual KOP, topics he typically presents about each fall for the benefit of new mentors, rookie teams, and others wishing to learn more.

As we learned in the last week, you can meet Marshall in a number of places-- not just the internet.  If you visit a FIRST North Carolina event you might be able to find him wearing spectacularly striped pants, standing on comfortable foam tiles, in intense conversation with a gaggle of Robot Inspectors.  We recommend you ask him who he is, what he's into, and what's next for FRC as he sees it.

Marshall could not be reached for comment on this article.