May 09, 2013

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Road Trip: TWC Techs Take Bucket Truck to FIRST Robotics Championship

For the fourth year in a row, we hosted a Connect a Million Minds booth at the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis, Mo. This year we tricked out our space by parking a Time Warner Cable bucket truck in the middle of our booth and raising the bucket arm high so it was visible from all points within the America’s Center, home to the Championship exhibition.

CTO Mike LaJoie with Time Warner Cable technical operations employees

From l to r: Technicians Jon Hulsey and Scott Schmidt, CTO Mike LaJoie, technician Patrick Nobbman


Midwest technical operations employees Patrick Nobbman, Jon Hulsey, Scott Schmidt and John Stone teamed up to deliver the bucket truck to St. Louis. Never having met, the guys embarked on an 8-hour road trip from Lincoln, Neb. to St. Louis, each taking turns behind the wheel. During the ride, they even managed to squeeze in a state Department of Transportation inspection for the vehicle (safety first!).

After arriving in St. Louis and parking the truck in our booth, our techs stayed on the job. They invited the public to explore the truck, which had been furnished with samples of equipment that bring cable into customer homes, like nodes, taps, splitters and amplifiers.

Nobbman, a Lead Preventative Maintenance Technician from Lincoln, was pleasantly surprised to see how interested kids were in the work he does. They were intrigued by fiber-optic cable, so he showed them how it’s spliced, how light is measured, and how he uses an optical time-domain reflectometer (Great Scott, that sounds like a neat gadget) to find the length of fiber and the events in between splices.

After touring our booth, visitors had been schooled in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) that our employees use every day. They walked away with interesting factoids, like the fact that pixel is short for picture element, and a greater understanding of the technology behind their favorite devices – like how digital TV signals get delivered using infrared light and radio waves.

FIRST Robotics teams and visitors take part in our photo booth, including Time Warner Cable CTO Mike LaJoie, center

FIRST Robotics teams take part in our photo booth, along with Time Warner Cable CTO Mike LaJoie, center

Families and teams also left with a digital memento from their visit. Nearly 500 people took photos in our bucket truck photo booth, where they simulated what it was like to work behind the maintenance lines as a technician. Our Chief Technology Officer Mike LaJoie, got snap-happy as well.

Despite all the excitement at our booth, at the end of the day, it was still about robots. About his favorite FIRST championship moment, Nobbman told us: “A mother of one of the robotics teams TWC sponsors came up to us at the booth and told us that the team had won their match.  Everyone was so excited!”

For full photo coverage of our time at the FIRST Robotics Championship, including candids from our bucket truck photo booth, “like” and visit Connect a Million Minds on Facebook.

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