“Always Practice, Always Learn from Mistakes” is a phrase, my teacher, Prof. Manop Wongsaisuwan, always taught me since I joined the Engineer Innovator Club(EIC) under his guidance at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. He was a consultant teacher of this club. Above all, he is the teacher whom I love and respect the most in my life. When I first listened to this phrase, I did not quite understand the real meaning of it. I thought doing repetitious testing and practicing are futility. Only a few times would be fine for the tests and practices. I believed we should spend time more on creating advantageous new ideas.
I did not understand the phrase until the first robot competition day of my life, the problems which had never happened before unexpectedly came out with unknown causes. For example, robot application became error, electronics board caught fire, robot structure was broken and etc. That day, our team disgracefully lost. We could not score even a point in the first round. In fact, the reason why we lost was so obvious. We really regretted that we did not spend enough time on preparing and testing. While the only thing we could do was blaming ourselves, our teacher gently comforted us, “This mistake you have gotten is not the worst thing, contrarily, it is the best thing you would have ever gotten in your lives. Just learn from it, improve yourselves and get over it to the next step of success.” This made us realize and came back to fight again. Since then, I always keep my beloved teacher’s principle, “Always Practice, Always Learn from Mistakes,” in my mind. Whenever my team and I have created new ideas or projects, I did not hesitate at all in suggesting my team to do a lot of tests and practices. What we usually found were the problems which we had never thought these would happen. For example, an abnormal motion of robot was revealed after an enduring time of testing. We discovered that we did not take into account the friction variable between the wheels and the floor. Another problem was our Artificial Intelligent Strategy did not cover all possible effects from different environments. Different competition fields and enemies made our Genetic Algorithm we applied fail. Although many problems were disclosed, our team was not at all discouraged or dispirited. Instead, we were glad and excited to learn from these mistakes and improve our strategies to make them become the perfect ones for the real robot competition. More importantly, we began to understand the true meaning of what Prof. Manop always said. A lot of practices reveal unexpected mistakes. Mistakes, obviously, show us what needs to be improved. And rectifying these mistakes makes perfect!
After 2 years of our strong effort and determination, countless trials and errors, tireless correction and modification, we eventually won the 1st place in the world robot competition, “World Robocup 2008” in China. This is the greatest thing ever happened in my life. Until now, I still keep Prof. Manop’s doctrine in my mind all the time and strictly follow it not only in the way of working, but also in the way of my life.