A Leader In The Community – Kevin Zhou

Why do people step up and become leaders?

There are many inspiring leaders in our community, all working hard to make positive changes and give to the community. For me, when I think of a notable leader in my community who continuously makes positive impacts, I immediately think of Kevin Zhou.

Kevin’s background and education

Kevin Zhou went to a university in China, where he studied and graduated with a major in mathematics. Later on, he received a Master’s degree in computer science. He then worked in China for a couple of years at a tech company until moving to Canada. In Canada, he developed his proficiency in English and worked for a couple of tech companies. Currently, he is working as a software development manager at an IT company located downtown.


Accomplishments in the community

Outside of his job, Kevin is a passionate mentor for a local robotics team and the main coordinator for the BC FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics League. He initially started out as a coach for his son’s FTC team. He then volunteered to become a coordinator for FTC events in the community and became the head coordinator after working with FTC for a year. As a coordinator, Kevin works tirelessly to plan out large events involving numerous robotics teams such as robot scrimmages. Kevin’s love for robotics has also inspired many high school students to pursue engineering and form new FTC teams. Kevin has also received the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019 for his dedication and commitment to organizing a successful season.

Video clip of Kevin receiving FIRST’s Volunteer of the Year Award. (Source: BC FIRST Tech Challenge Championship Feb. 22)


Exceptional personal qualities

Perhaps the reason why Kevin is such an exception leader comes directly from his exceptional personal qualities. During my interview with Kevin, we focused our conversation on three specific leadership qualities that he strongly values: problem-solving, patience, and passion.

Problem-solving is the foundation for all of the work that Kevin does in the FTC community. In our interview, Kevin explained the struggles that he faced when working with others to organize league events. He told me that due to some language barriers, miscommunication could sometimes occur. Furthermore, Kevin needed to work with other organizers virtually last year, and he needed to make decisions on how league meets were going to look like with the ongoing pandemic. It was very important for Kevin to be decisive and deal with these problems as soon as they came up.

To deal with these problems that could occur at any moment, Kevin also needs to be an understanding and patient leader. As a volunteer for FTC, Kevin works with many other volunteers from different backgrounds. Therefore, it is important for Kevin to connect with the people that he works with, and resolve any different views that they may have regarding the planning process in a respectful and positive manner.

Passion is what makes Kevin stand out as a leader and inspire many students within FTC. Kevin told me that the greatest joy he gets from being a mentor for his robotics team and an organizer for FTC events is seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces. Kevin is somebody who genuinely enjoys working and learning with others, and his positivity easily spreads to all those around him.


Why do I believe Kevin is an effective community leader?

There are many reasons why I believe Kevin is an effective community leader. Kevin has an easy-going personality that makes him not only enjoyable to work with, but also to learn with. On the numerous occasions where I met Kevin during league meets, I felt at ease and comfortable with making mistakes, knowing that they would become valuable lessons for the future. Kevin also shoulders lots of responsibility, and he consistently works hard behind the scenes to ensure that teams can enjoy various robotics events in the community. I believe that his selflessness and care for others are more contributing factors to his effective leadership. Finally, Kevin is always looking at new learning opportunities for others, such as hosting unofficial scrimmages between a few FTC teams. Even now, he is looking for more students who may be interested in robotics, and he is actively trying to spread the vision of FIRST Tech Challenge to more schools in hopes of reaching out to more keen individuals. These are all valuable qualities that make Kevin an effective leader.


How does Kevin inspire me and others to make a difference?

Kevin is a leader that inspires many aspiring learners both within and outside of FTC. To me, Kevin is a leader that demonstrates what being a leader truly means. I have known Kevin personally for a few years now, and he has shown over and over that he is someone who shows compassion and care, and is actively trying to provide more learning opportunities for the community. Without Kevin’s incredible dedication and hard work put into organizing FTC events, I would not have been able to enjoy so many unique experiences while exploring a topic that I am very passionate about. His enthusiasm and determination to bring up those around him are what truly inspire me to step into a position of leadership and learn and grow along with the community.

Finally, let’s return to our central question. Why do people step up and become leaders? For Kevin, a leader is somebody that “makes things happen”. Kevin told me that he believed that leaders did not need superior knowledge or experience and that the most important characteristic was instead actively finding ways to transfer knowledge to others, guide the way, and help them overcome obstacles. For Kevin, being a leader means that he can make a positive difference to all those around him, and see the smiles on people’s faces when they push through challenges and grow. This is the reason that Kevin, alongside many other leaders in the community, decide to step up and lead.

What do you take away from the conversation?

I have learned much from my conversations with Kevin, and I will summarize the key points that I have taken away. Firstly, I have understood that a leader’s passion and positivity resonate deeply with those around them. An effective leader can kindle the drive and motivation in others’ hearts. Secondly, leaders are not those who are the most knowledgeable or experienced. Instead, they are those who are truly willing to put in the time and dedication to create experiences for others that could not have been made without hard work. And last but not least, leaders love pushing others up and providing learning opportunities to those they lead through every action that they take.


I would like to give a huge thank you to Kevin Zhou for taking the time to have an interview with me. I look forward to seeing you again at our next league meet!

Images used were sourced from: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1VW2ZLsCSAf-um104euWbXBH0rl7N__3j

Thank you for reading! Until next time…

In-Depth Post #6

It has been a month since my last in-depth post. Over this month, I have learned more about the concept of tempo and continued to focus on practicing playing the song Legend.

I had been working on playing the last section of the song Legend over spring break. As I was practicing, I realized that a few sections of my playing seemed to sound slightly off. Confused, I tried to determine what component felt wrong. I tried to focus on the dynamics by emphasizing the dramatic sections, but it still sounded off. After messing around on the keyboard for a while, I realized that I had not been focusing on tempo.

In music, tempo refers generally to the speed of a piece. When I played the song, my playing speed gradually slowed down as I got to the harder sections. A consistent tempo is crucial for a musical piece to flow. Also, the tempo of the song affects the overall mood it conveys. Songs with faster tempos tend to sound more energetic, while songs with slower tempo may feel more relaxed or melancholy. Keeping this in mind, I decided to focus on the tempo as I played the song Legend. First, I tried playing the song at different tempos to find a tempo that I felt the most comfortable playing. Then, I used a metronome to practice sticking to the tempo. Oftentimes, I begin playing at the rights tempo, then begin to slow down or speed up as I play. The metronome was an effective tool to help me keep to the time and develop my internal feel of the tempo.

Music Tempo

(The names of the different ranges of tempos. Tempo is measured in BPM, also known as beats per minute. For example, 60 BPM would be one beat per second, and 120 BPM would be two beats per second.)

However, I still found that I tended to slow down towards the more challenging sections of the song. This was because the tempo that I was comfortable playing varied for different sections of the song. To solve this difficulty, my solution was to purposely change the tempo at the hard sections instead of gradually slowing down. This way, the song still flowed well, as the tempo remained consistent for each individual section. Overall, I have learned a lot about tempo over the last month, and I am now putting more emphasis on maintaining the tempo in my pieces.

Concepts and Alternatives

Over the past month, I had two meeting meetings with my mentor, Aubrey. Aubrey was really busy with schoolwork, but he was kind enough to find some spare time for us to go over the song that I am currently working on, Legend. Our main focus over both meetings was to work on the final two sections for the song. Like before, we began by reviewing what I have learned so far. I played through the first half of the song, and Aubrey provided me with some feedback. He said: “Ok cool, try to make your notes connect with each other more. So, don’t suddenly press on the keys.” To make sure that Aubrey and I were on the same page, I generalized what he said into a concept. I told him: “Wait, ok, so the main concept here is basically finger pressure?” He told me that it was a general idea. More pressure used when pressing down on a key will make the note sound more pronounced. To connect the notes more, Aubrey told me that I should work on controlling how much force I use each time I hit a key.

From this concept, Aubrey and I were also able to generate ideas. I asked Aubrey: “Wait, should I try practicing controlling my finger pressure by practicing playing scales on the piano really softly?” Aubrey thought that could work well, and also came up with the idea of playing chords with one finger at a time while pressing down each key slowly. These ideas stemmed from the general concept of finger pressure.

Another concept that Aubrey and I discussed was note jumps. In the middle section of the song, I needed to shift my fingers around the keyboard quickly. Aubrey and I determined that the main concept that I needed to focus on was note jumps. He told me that note jumps were very important to practice, as many difficult pieces required the hands to move around suddenly and quickly. He then recommended me to take the section slow and avoid looking down to build up muscle memory. Eventually, I would be able to build up an intuition of where each key is located. Discussing a specific concept allowed us to find particular strategies to help me improve my playing.

(The fingering from bar 18 to bar 25 required a lot of jumps for the right hand.)

Next, we moved on to learning the new section. While going through this new section, Aubrey suggested that I try to work out the fingerings by myself first. I thought it was a good idea, so I began to slowly try out fingering combinations. After fiddling around for a while, I came up with a fingering that felt pretty good to me. When I slowly played the new section of the song using my fingering, Aubrey told me that it was pretty good, but there were some alternatives fingerings that worked too. Instead of using my index finger for playing one note, then jumping to the next note, he told me to try using my thumb instead. That way, my other fingers could naturally reach for the next note instead of jumping. I found Aubrey’s alternative fingering felt more comfortable, and I stuck to that fingering instead. By being open to seeking alternatives, I was able to simplify and improve my fingerings.


Overall, I have made lots of progress over the past month. I have finished learning all the notes for Legend, but I still need more practice. I will be aiming to learn one or two more songs over the next month. Here is a video of me playing up until the final section of the song Legend (Click here if the video does not play on the blog):


Learning Centers

As we are approaching in-depth night, I have begun to think about methods to present a portion of my learning and hard work over the past few months. Learning the piano has been an activity that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I want to convey some of my passion into my learning center. For the learning center, I plan to record and edit a video of myself playing a few pieces on the piano. I will choose some pieces that I had particularly enjoyed, and pieces that demonstrated my growth over the course of the project. After recording the pieces, I will compile the songs into an arrangement and share the video with the audience. Currently, I have a few songs in mind for the final performance, and I will be finalizing the list after learning one more song.

I am really excited to show my piano journey on in-depth night! Stay tuned…

In-Depth Post #5

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, and I am continuing to make progress and a good rate. Over the past few weeks, I have taken two courses online about scripting in Unity. One of the courses focused on more technical aspects of scripting, explaining different concepts such as Vectors, DeltaTime, and Enumerations. I found these topics slightly challenging but very interesting to learn about. The other course that I took was more of hands-on experience. In this course, I downloaded a project file of a game and learned to modify the code to change how things functioned in the game. This was a very enjoyable experience and I got to review concepts that I had already learned, such as functions and variables. I also learned new concepts such as classes and inheritance. Overall, from these courses, I reviewed coding concepts that I already knew and learned about many new concepts that will definitely help my game development.

Leaning scripting from a hands-on course.


Even though Mr. Linburg is very busy right now, I have been staying in touch with him over the past few weeks. We initially tried to communicate via Microsoft Teams, but we discovered that we didn’t have permission to start one-to-one meetings. Since then, we have used email to communicate with each other. Although we couldn’t talk to each other face-to-face, we communicated often and stayed on track. I have updated Mr. Linburg on my progress about once a week and contacted him if I had any questions. Yesterday, we had a discussion and we decided that I would soon be ready to create a larger game using Unity. We decided that I am going to take one more course on scripting in Unity, then I will use all the skills I have learned to create a full game in Unity.



1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

Mr. Linburg provides me with many helpful and interesting online resources to help me learn how to use Unity. He has a variety of resources on his website and recommends courses to me when we have discussions.


2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

Online resources are incredibly useful for me to continue learning. There are so many courses and tutorials on the internet on game design, scripting, 3d modelling, and many other topics related to game development. In addition to the courses that Mr. Linburg has provided to me, I also watch videos on YouTube on various game development tricks, such as using the trail system in Unity.


3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

To accelerate my learning, I have made many small video games in Unity. These small games only take about a week at most to complete and use very basic game mechanics. Although these games are simple, I have learned so much from making them. For each new small game that I make, I would need to find resources online to help me add certain features to the game. Through this, I have gained extra knowledge of various features in Unity such as 2d Lighting and practiced my programming skills. Here is one of the small games that I made: Wandering Spirit


4. When you get together what do you talk about?

When Mr. Linburg and I get together, we talk about my progress so far and the steps moving forwards. I would update Mr. Linburg on my progress since the last meeting and ask questions if I was wondering about something. We would then set a goal for the next week and talk about the resources I can use to help my learning. If I have any questions or concerns, I will talk about it with Mr. Linburg.


5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

During this uncertain and difficult time, Mr. Linburg is doing his best to continue to support my learning. He has been providing me with tons of resources to make sure I can continue to learn about something that I am passionate about. I have been committed, learning more about Unity by looking online for additional resources. Mr. Liburg and I are communicating often so he always is aware of my progress.


6. What are you learning about one another?

I have learned that Mr. Linburg is a mentor who is supportive and caring. Even during this difficult time, when he is busy with work and teaching, he continues to make sure I am equipped properly with resources so that I can continue to learn about something that I am passionate about.


I am continuing to learn more about using Unity and fueling my passion for game development. I am super excited to get started on creating a full-sized game in Unity and to see how the game turns out!

Hope everybody is well,


In-Depth Post #4

It has been a while since my last In-Depth Post. Over the past month, I have worked on 3 different projects in Unity and I am continuing to make very good progress with my learning.


Before spring break, I made my first 3D game with Unity. I created a simple 3D roll-a-ball game in Unity by following a tutorial series on Youtube. This project gave me a better understanding of the Unity 3D physics system, as well as helped me become more familiar with the Unity interface. This game implements many basic concepts such as RigidBody and UI. I also practiced my programming skills and learned new concepts such as GetComponent(). Although I had some difficulty understanding some concepts such as UI, I overcame the struggle by doing some research on the topic. This was a simple and interesting project to work on. Below is the game:

I also created another game in 3D that I named Drift. While working on this game, I learned about saving mechanisms as well as managing audio. In addition, I also got more practice with working in 3D and programming various scripts. Below is the game:

After showing my game to Mr. Linburg, the game design teacher, we made a detailed plan for my learning during spring break and beyond. We decided that I would add more components to my roll-a-ball game, as well as work on more projects to practice my coding and to become more familiar with using Unity.


Over the break, I added a few new components to the roll-a-ball game and began to work on a 2D dungeon gunner game.

Applying what I learned, I added a few ramps, a second level, and a door that lets the player through after completing the first level. As I gain more knowledge about working in 3D in Unity, I will add more components to this game.

A screenshot from the project that I am currently working on.


I also expanded my Unity skills by working on a 2D game. Following a tutorial series, I created a simple dungeon-gunner game with 2 levels. I learned to manipulate cameras to create a mini-map, use prefabs and randomness to create random level generation, and other important skills. I am currently still working on this game and implementing new components such as boss fights, and character selection. I learned that working with 2D is very different compared to 3D. However, there are still a lot of similarities between them.


1. What has been my most difficult mentoring challenge so far? Why?

The most difficult challenge so far is communicating frequently with my mentor. I have not contacted Mr. Linburg for 2 weeks. Communicating has been for me as I have not found a good opportunity to talk with my mentor. From our last meeting, we created a plan for my learning for the next month. I am working on many projects, and I could not find a good time to communicate with my mentor.

2. What is working well? Why?

One thing that is working really well is my learning speed. All of my learning is done online, through watching videos or reading articles. This is very convenient for me, as I have had a lot of time to learn at home over the past few weeks. My progress has never been quicker before.

3. What could be working better? How can you make sure this happens?

Something that could be working better is communicating more frequently with my mentor. Over the break, I have not contacted Mr. Linburg. I felt that there was no good opportunity, as I was not finished with my projects. I can communicate with him more often so he can keep track of my progress and provide support as I work on a project. I will make sure this happens by setting a meeting scheduled with Mr. Linburg, so we can keep the meetings consistent. I will communicate via email and I will be updating him with my progress this week.


Overall, over the past month, I made a lot of progress. I am proud of the games that I have created so far, and am driven to continue learning about game development. Over the next month, I plan on taking a course about scripting and learning how to implement assets that I have created in Blender into my final large game in Unity and I am excited to see how the game turns out!

It is a difficult time right now, and I hope everybody else is doing well.


In-Depth Post #2

It’s been a few weeks since In-Depth projects started, and I am currently making good progress. I have found a mentor a week ago; Mr. Linburg, a school teacher who teaches the Game Design course, has agreed to mentor me and guide my learning. Together, we created a detailed plan for my in-depth learning for the next few weeks.

Before I begin to create games in Unity, I will have to learn how to create 3D models. Mr. Linburg suggested that I learn how to use Blender.

I have begun learning how to use Blender, a software that can be used for creating 3D graphics for video games. So far, I have completed some small projects in Blender. I created a simple donut, as well as a low-poly scene. At first, the Blender interface seemed difficult to work with, and I felt slightly overwhelmed. However, after checking out the resources provided by Mr. Linburg and watching videos online, I was able to get the hang of using Blender. Now, I feel passionate and curious to learn more about the software. Below are the 3D images that I created so far:

A simple donut that I created in Blender.

A low-poly scene that I created in Blender.


  1. How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?

Mr. Linburg has gained much of computer and technical knowledge while working on a two business and technical diploma at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology). He also has a BA, BEd and an MSc. Within those other degrees, he also has a collection of technology-related instruction. Since then he used his skills and expertise to learn and develop expertise in new areas of technology. He has also taken workshops and completed online programs to further hone his skills, especially in new and emerging fields of 3D animation and 3D gaming. 

  1. What were those experiences like for your mentor?

When Mr. Linburg went through school, the fields of 3D animation and 3D game design were in their infancy and were not well developed or accessible. Being curious and being willing to constantly train and retrain was essential for Mr. Linburg to be successful in the high tech area of gaming and design. 

  1. What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?

I have learned from Mr. Linburg that game design requires patience and flexibility. Game design is a complex subject, and learning about it can often seem difficult or boring. It is essential to stay patient and determined when learning about game design. Flexibility is also very important, as technology moves forward at a very fast pace. To be successful in game design, it is important to be constantly willing to learn new things.


  1. What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?

I learned that it is important to equip your mentee with helpful resources. Mr. Linburg has provided me with tons of resources about Blender on his website, which greatly helped me to learn about Blender. I’ve also learned that planning together with your mentee is a good idea. I had many discussions with Mr. Linburg, and we created a detailed guide for my learning. Talking to your mentee and creating a plan together helps guide your mentee in the right direction and gives the mentor a better understanding of the mentees’ goals. I will try to incorporate these strategies in the future when I am a mentor.


Overall, I believe I have made good progress over the past few weeks. I felt a passion as I worked on my projects, a desire to learn more. I will continue to learn about using Blender for the next 2-3 weeks, and then move on to using Unity to begin creating a game.

I am excited to see how the game will turn out!

In-Depth Introduction

The in-depth topic that I have chosen is game development. I plan on creating a video game using a game engine called Unity. A game engine is a software that allows game developers to create video games efficiently. I will be using C# as the programming language because it is the programming language used in Unity. Almost all of the work is going to be done on a computer. My goal is to create a unique video game that others can play. I will also create a video that demonstrates how I created a video game.

I have chosen to learn about this subject because I am very passionate about coding and game development. Creating video games was something I had done since I was in Grade 5. In the past, I have created many small games. For me, making games is a way to express ideas in my head. In the past, I have read books and watched videos on game making. This year, I want to dive deeper. I want to explore game development further by learning how to use Unity.

I already have some experience with computer programming; I understand basic coding concepts such as variables and functions, and I able to apply those coding concepts to my games. During my in-depth study, I plan on learning about C# more, as I am not very familiar with that coding language. I also plan on learning about more advanced coding concepts and how I can apply them to developing my game.

I do not yet have a mentor,  but I have reached out to many people in hopes of finding a mentor. I am sure that I will find one soon.

There are many resources that I will use to help me achieve my goal. In addition to my mentor, I will be using YouTube to find videos on various topics about game design and coding. I can also learn from various websites and by reading books about coding as well.

I am very excited to start my learning and to find out what sort of game I will be making!

install game engine unity3D [debian 64bit] | fredfire1Unity is a game engine that can be used to create 2D and 3D games.