Machining a team

How many times have you been asked, requested or forced to work in a team? How many times have you worked with a cool, nice, hard working team? How many of those teams were conformed by highly qualified, highly motivated people always willing to put all their weight in and doing their best to not letting you down?

You might have been luckier than me, and worked in a couple or lots of them, but I think that in my whole working-in-a-team experience, I’ve only been in ONE team like that. And believe me, coming from the schools I come (UIA at Mexico City and CMU at Pittsburgh), and through all my work experience I’ve had the chance to work on so many teams… so many of them.

Early in the summer (more like late spring), we took the task of fabricating Polaris, a moon-poking rover that hadn’t been fully designed yet. We had to learn how to use machines, processes and materials none of us had used before, and do it while we were already being requested to deliver. We had to learn how to deal with pressure and hold each other’s backs from the vultures; deal with underskilled hands-off people to get complex parts built from scratch; learn from the best, and from our worst; learn how to close our ears to pointless ego-loaded discussions; learn how to motivate others to believe in their work and keep the flow going; motivate each other; caffeinate each other, give moral support and life counsel to each other, put the right beats for each other, bring the watts up, pump the souls up… All of this while learning how to live everyday with a team member we met the very same day we signed in for this project.

We had to develop fab methods that no one had done before, but just thought (or argued) about them. We had to subtlety tweak the designs, and make them fit flawlessly. We had to prove everybody that we were doing things the right way, and we had to prove it by delivering those things right. We had to be creative as a 5 year old to come with setups and toolpaths that would perfectly work for multiple imperfect pieces of different shapes and sizes. We had to pull so many all nighters. We had to document, we had to teach, we had to support, we had to clean, and we had to do it smiling.

Machining, cutting, trimming, forming, conforming, attaching, making… overall non-stop fabbing. What a better name for such a team than Team Machine?

Honestly, I think that it was that same name that brought us together. Being the only team that used a name and continuously pushed it on every presentation or conversation really gave us our own identity and soul. At this stage of the game, I can’t imagine myself getting up every day knowing all what I have to do if I hadn’t my Team Machine waiting for me on the lab. And IMHO I don’t think that a bigger team would have performed better. Working with Rachel has been plain awesome. Yeah!

We’re the ones with dirty clothes, we’re the ones with messy hair. Look at us and you’ll know we’re real. We’re the ones that make shit happen. We’re the f*cking Team Machine.

*Ok, so this was a very emotionally loaded post. Won’t appologize, man it up. It’s 3am, and I can’t sleep. Thanks so much for that 6:30pm mocha!

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