Tag Archives: Eric Lubin

“We’re #1! And #2!”

Things might have gotten a little tense around the Lubin house.  For 4 years — ever since entering Staples — twins Eric and Todd had the highest grades in the grade.

The lead went back and forth — one semester one had a .001 GPA lead, then the other would edge in front — and as graduation neared, it was clear that one Lubin would be valedictorian, the other salutatorian.

That could have made for tense moments not only at dinner, but on the math, robotics and track teams — activities the brothers share.

Fortunately, they’re too smart to let that happen.

The final results are in.  The top 2 spots — Staples does not announce ranks beyond those, and the end of first semester is the cutoff — go to Eric and Todd, in that order.

Eric Lubin, his phone and his myStaples app.

As valedictorian, Eric will speak on graduation day.  Salutatorian Todd will talk the night before, at baccalaureate.  In some ways, it’s better being runner-up:  the salutatorian’s speech is held in a more relaxed setting than the valedictorian’s.

Plus the auditorium is air-conditioned.  The fieldhouse is not.

Both young men will have plenty to talk about.  Since moving to Westport in 4th grade — and attending Green’s Farms Elementary School, Bedford Middle and now Staples — they have taken advantage of a wide range of opportunities.

And done very, very well in them.

Eric is president of the computer club, a captain of the math and robotics team (which competes for an international championship next month in St. Louis), and a state qualifier in hurdles for the track team.

He attributes his academic success to “a lot of late-night studying,” the fact that he enjoys his work, and his “ability to log off AIM.”

He’s a math-and-science guy.  “There’s always a right answer,” Eric explains.

AP classes like Chemistry, Calculus BC, Physics C and Multivariable Calculus are all “conceptual,” he says.  “There’s a lot of problem-solving.  It’s not memory.”

Eric liked AP Economics too — in part, because of the math.

“Staples definitely gave me the opportunity to challenge myself,” he says.  He appreciates too the “teacher connections.”  He could always meet instructors outside of class, to conference about papers or problems.

The valedictorian is perhaps best known for myStaples:  a wildly popular multipurpose app he created for smartphones.  It displays the daily schedule and all school announcements; helps organize homework; indicates time left in a class, and completes all assignments for every student.  Well, maybe not the last.

Todd — the salutatorian — is also a captain of the robotics and math teams, and a hurdler on the track team.  (He throws the javelin too.)

“We drive each other,” Todd says of the friendly rivalry with his twin.  “We push each other to succeed.”

Todd Lubin

It’s an unspoken competition.  And it includes not just schoolwork, but their many shared activities.

“Grades and school are important, but it’s also important to do other things,” Todd says.

“If you only do school, you’ll get too stressed out.  That’s not mentally healthy.”

Like his brother logging off AIM, Todd has a time management trick.  “If I have to miss a Yankee game and only get the box score, that’s okay,” he says.

Also like Eric, Todd favors math and science.  “They’re tangible for me,” he notes.  “I like finding the best way to approach a problem.  I think in a very logical way.

“I’ve never had a class at Staples I haven’t enjoyed.  And I’ve made connections with lots of teachers.”

As freshmen, Todd’s GPA was slightly higher than Eric’s.  Eric took the lead later.

“In the end we would have been exactly tied,” Todd says.  “But I had 2 extra A-level classes.”

In the high-stakes world of valedictorianism, A-level classes count a tad less than the higher-level Honors courses.  So the fact that Todd got A+ grades in A-level Latin ended up hurting his GPA overall.

Go figure.

Though they’ve been joined in many ways — from classes and activities and captaincies and friends to their GPAs, ever since sharing a womb — the twins may take separate paths next fall.

Eric is choosing between MIT, Harvard and Princeton.  Todd is deciding whether it’s Harvard, Yale or Princeton.

As with all things Lubin, it’s once again pick-’em.

Welcome To myStaples

Many schools prohibit cell phones.  Administrators fear they’ll be used for games, texting, even cheating.

Staples allows cell phones (though not in class).  They’re a ubiquitous part of life, after all.  A ban won’t eliminate their use; students will simply devise ways around it.

Plus — go figure — they’re plenty helpful.

Senior Eric Lubin took that idea, and made iPhones exponentially more useful.

Eric Lubin, his iPhone and his myStaples app

An experienced app developer — he already has 3 in the iPhone App Store — he spent this summer powering up one of his previous creations, iSHS.

Rechristened myStaples, it’s as versatile as a Swiss Army knife, as easy to use as a doorbell.

And when it’s available on the App Store — hopefully this week — it could become as popular as Flight Control.

A key feature allows students to see their personal daily schedule.  (It’s different each day — not easy to memorize.)   Because the app works off the Staples TV system — which adjusts for special schedules, half days, etc. — it’s always accurate.

A bar at the bottom indicates how much time is left in each period — like for a song or video.  Users can set one-time or permanent reminders (hopefully via vibrate) based on “time remaining.”  For example, students may remind themselves “there’s 30 minutes left in my free period — time to start studying,” while teachers can let themselves know “there are 3 minutes left — time to wrap things up.”

The lunch schedule — always a source of confusion, because it changes based on department and month — is another key feature.

The homework feature is very impressive.  Students simply tap a class, add an assignment, then set a due date.  They can sort their homework by course or due date.  If they check it when it’s done, it’s automatically deleted.

Eric included shortcuts to Blackboard — the school’s course management software — and SnapGrades, a web-based gradebook.

The app is tied to Staples’ TV screens, so the daily announcements are displayed in table view.  That eliminates the need to stand in front of a TV monitor, waiting to see whether there’s a notice that a sports practice is canceled due to bad weather.

Eric tweaked myStaples for iPads, to take advantage of that device’s increased space.  There’s also an iPod version.

Eric considered a social component — the ability to see every other student who shares the same free period, say, or all those taking any section of AP Statistics — but did not have time to include it.

Not that he was slacking — or trying to make money off his app.  Friends have said they’d pay $10 for myStaples — but he’s offering it free.

Perhaps he’ll adapt it for other schools.  After all, Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook for his Harvard college classmates.  Look at him now.

Then again, don’t.

Eric Lubin is a much nicer guy.

(To download Eric’s app, search for “myStaples” in Apple’s App Store, or click on eric.lubin.us/mystaples)

Take That, Bode Miller!

For nearly 2 weeks we’ve watched snowboarders soar, speed skaters fly, and curlers do whatever it is they do.

It’s been a great spectacle — particularly if you enjoy watching sports several hours late on tape delay, even though they are being held on the exact same continent where you live.

But exciting events are not confined to athletics.  Five Staples students discovered that last Sunday — in the regional FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition, at Pace University.

All day long the 5 — Haris Durrani, Jehangir Hafiz, Eric Lubin, Todd Lubin and Tim Yang — struggled.  They faced — and overcame — a variety of mechanical and technological challenges, and finished the qualifying rounds in 4th place.

Tank Aaron (from left): Eric Lubin, Tim Yang, Todd Lubin, Jehangir Hafiz and Haris Durrani.

In the championship round, “Tank Aaron” — they named their team after the famous baseball player — faced a pair of New Jersey squads.  The Westporters’ controllers began to malfunction.  In the finals — a best-of-3-games series — they won their 1st game, then lost as the other robots ganged up on theirs.

In the 3rd game of the 3rd match, they had just 2 minutes and 30 seconds to fight their way to the World Championship in Atlanta — or go home.  Tank Aaron was virtually scoreless the entire time, as their opponents fought to keep the high-scoring robot from shooting Wiffle balls into scoring areas outside the field.

As the clock hit 15 seconds, Tank Aaron shot from the middle of the field — a risky and seemingly impossible shot.  Balls poured into the outfield scoring area for the next 5 seconds.  The New Jerseyans were so shocked they forgot to maintain control of their robot, so Tank pushed closer toward the goal.

Even more balls scored in the next 5 seconds.  By the final 5, the crowd was on its feet, screaming.  Tank Aaron won — and they’re headed to The Big Dance in April.

Tank Aaron (right) beat that poser #3817, with plenty of balls to spare.

“It was too close for comfort,” Haris said a couple of days later — still stunned by the finish.  The team had met for 7-8 hours a day — sometime until 2 a.m. — every day for the previous week.

Their hard work paid off.   They even were named finalists for the Innovate Award for creative and consistent robot design.

Now the real work begins.  Tank Aaron plans to improve the robot, from head to toe.

So the 5 robotics team members still won’t have time to watch even a minute of skiing,  hockey or — damn it! — curling.

Who cares?  Robotics competitions are far tougher.

And more dramatic.