Earning the rank of Eagle Scout wasn’t rocket science for Williamstown’s David Friant. While it wasn’t advanced physics or mechanical engineering, either, it was hard work for the young man from Monroe Township.
What started with a simple Cub Scout flier given to him in second grade turned into a lifelong journey for Friant. He said his mom took him to the first meeting and it stuck from there.
Friant, of troop 234 in Williamstown, earned the rank of Eagle Scout this past January. To earn the prestigious rank one must obtain at least 21 merit badges. The mandatory badges are: First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Cooking, Personal Fitness, Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, Environmental Science or Sustainability, Personal Management, Swimming or Hiking or Cycling, Camping and Family Life.
Of the 21 badges, Friant said his favorite badge was the Robotics badge. The first step in earning the Robotics badge is to understand the hazards one may encounter while working with robots and how one can mitigate, prevent and respond. From there, a Scout must research the industry on how robots are best used today. Then comes the general knowledge step where a Scout will discuss with a counselor three of the five major fields of robotics: human-robot interface, mobility, manipulation, programming and sensors. After that comes the design and building stage. Once built, the Scout will demonstrate the robot for the counselor. The final stage of the badge is to attend or research a robotics competition and research a career in robotics.
Friant said they used Vex Robotics to build something similar to a Mars Rover.
“We built robots and made them drive around a test course,” he added.
In addition to the requisite 21 badges on his sash, Friant had to complete one community project before earning Eagle Scout. After mulling over his options, he decided to place plaques in front of historical sites on Main Street.
He said the plaques tell the history of the building and it was part of a revitalization project with the historical commission. He added that then-mayor Dan Teefy helped him decide on the project. The plaques seen in front of the Ireland Hoffer House and St. John’s Lutheran Church, for example, are the work of Friant.
Being an Eagle Scout is something that runs in the family. Friant said his uncle earned the rank and would ask him when he would begin his project.
“My grandpop started a countdown until my 18th birthday,” Friant said with a laugh. “I was really happy to be able to get it [Eagle Scout rank]. It was a great moment to earn it.”
When he looks back to his time in Scouts, Friant will remember the summer camps he’s been to, specifically the ones out of state at Camp Keowa in New York. In his opinion, the life lessons he learned, like leadership skills, will transfer into the real world.
“As I’ve gone through my Scouting career and doing job applications and scholarships, they always ask about leadership skills and leadership experience,” he said.
Friant was a two-time senior patrol leader as well as assistant senior patrol leader before that. He also attended the National Youth Leadership Training.
“Those skills are important to have throughout your life,” he added.
It could be said that Friant discovered his calling at a young age – the flier he received as an elementary school kid led him to earn a prestigious rank and helped him find his calling in life. Friant will attend Rowan University in the fall to study physics, but he plans on changing his major to mechanical engineering. The robotics badge really left its mark on the young man.