David Chandler graduated from FRA in 2017 and went on to attend Valparaiso University in Indiana. At Valparaiso, David studied computer engineering and just recently graduated this past May. During his time at FRA, David was very involved with the FRA robotics team, the performing arts, as well as helping teach design thinking courses during the summers. David has bee n important in not only building our program stronger within the FRA community, but in helping us learn how to better prepare students for moving on to college.
During David’s senior year at FRA, the newly formed robotics team qualified for the State Championship tournament, where the team won the Innovate Award. The team also went on to qualify for the World Championship and was one of only six teams in the world to win a Think Award.
When looking back on FRA’s robotics program, David recalled, “I loved being able to contribute something new and see the team’s accelerated growth over the years.” Competing in tournaments was always fun and adrenaline filled for David, he loved seeing the team work to be the best they could be in each moment. He described the team as resilient, always powering through and never giving up. "I have fond memories of all the hours spent designing, building, programming, testing, and strategizing during any chance the team could find. I always enjoyed the design aspects of robotics. Innovating solutions alongside my teammates outside the structure of a typical classroom gave me an outlet to be creative while still engaging my math/science abilities,” David mentioned.
Having the chance to encourage each other as a team, fail as a team, and succeed as a team helped develop the team-oriented work ethic he uses to this day.
The upper school Innovation Lab was completed during his senior year, and working in these high-tech spaces helped drive his passion to pursue a career in engineering where he continues to tackle challenges with creative problem solving. "I'm so thankful I had the chance to work in a state-of-the-art environment that introduced me to advanced technologies, resources, and unique learning opportunities," said David.
Currently, David is working as an automation engineer for Eli Lilly and Company, where he is developing tools to support the manufacturing of quality medicines that make life better for people. “Being a part of the first robotics program at FRA taught me the skills I needed to create and fund a new robotics team at Valparaiso where I led a team of engineers to qualify for the university-level World Championship and rank 18th in our first season competing. Those experiences also allowed me to demonstrate my abilities to employers, which provided me the opportunities I have today.” While being involved in FRA robotics, David believes he developed skills that could have never been learned from a textbook.
"I hold this place very near to my heart. Having the chance to contribute to something new and grow alongside my peers was priceless. I remember all the late nights and time with my friends in theater shows, concerts, pep band, drumline, robotics tournaments, Disney competitions, and teaching design thinking to middle school students in the Innovation Lab and working at the technology desk during the summers,” said David. "I value each opportunity FRA gave me not only to grow, but to excel and make an impact. I am forever grateful for the incredible mentors who helped me become the person I am today including Dr. Weeks, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Daugherty, Mr. Compton, Mr. Bolen, and Mr. Davis to name a few. The amount of care, knowledge, and trust they each instilled in me will last a lifetime. As FRA has taught me, when others see your passion, unimaginable opportunities will follow."