- To learn, plan, design, build and program an innovative and competitive robot.
- To reach outside the STEM Community with our educational programs.
- To create new sustainability programs for the robotics teams in our community.
- To uphold the core values of First Robotics and exhibit gracious professionalism.
Our goals and mission completely conincide with the FIRST Core Values:
- Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
- Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
- Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
- Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
- Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
- Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!
The Build Process:
Every year, First Tech Challenge announces a new theme for their robot competitions. Together, we plan out our game strategy, brainstorm solutions for the robot build, and then CAD all the parts of the robot prior to our build. All the members of our team learn about the fundamentals of engineering and the documentation involved. Our ideas are researched thoroughly and critically reviewed to decide which idea would be the most effective.
We use technical softwares such as OnShape and Solidworks to CAD and test all of our designs. Once all of our designs are documented and our engineering drawings are made, we order and purchase our parts and start the building process. Our programmers then take over, programming our robot in Java.
We compete in two qualifying competitions and then, if we are chosen to go on further, we compete in the State Tournament. Our competition season is one of the most exciting parts of being part of the team.
We were a rookie team last year, and our team performed very well. We were frugal with our donated funds, and 3D printed many of our parts. We were nominated for the Control Award Last year which entails our programming and performance of the robot on the competition floor in autonomous mode.
Reaching Outside of the STEM Community
Our team and our schools, MSA and East Ridge High School, believe that education should develop skills needed for “the world’s best workforce”. We believe that solving problems in multiple ways requires diverse individuals with many different skill sets. We want to encourage talented individuals from all areas to develop their technical abilities. Many colleges are developing interdisciplinary programs which combine humanities and technical studies. A few of our important outreach activities which reach outside of the STEM community have included:
- Starting a robotics club at a local Arts High School and mentoring the students by working on creative projects together.
- Building a moving set piece for “Seussical the Musical” to attract young prospective builders to robotics.
- Visiting a local elementary schools to demonstrate our robot and talk about how to get involved in FLL and FTC robotics.
- Being involved in “Big Truck Day” in Woodbury and allowing young children from diverse backgrounds to experiment with and drive robots.
- Touring the Federal Reserve Bank to see how large, autonomous robots are used in the financial industry.
- Developing a robotics workshop curriculum, hosting and teaching workshops for middle schoolers and making that curriculum available for use by other teams.
- Recruiting individuals as a cinematographer and a web designer to document our outreach activities and share them on our RPM website and at outreach events.
We recognize the need to plan for the sustainability of our robotics programs. Recruiting and retaining new members and helping new teams is important to the future of our organization. By educating and mentoring young robot enthusiasts, we can form new teams while also creating and retaining interest in robotics programs. We decided to focus on middle school students and give them the tools to be successful so that they enjoy their experience and stay in robotics long term through FTC or FRC. We orchestrated an extremely on “weekend workshop” in FLL and FTC robotics. We developed a curriculum, secured the funding and materials, negotiated space, planned for speakers, practiced, tested our instruction on small groups, marketed our program, involved other teams, implemented our program, evaluated our program for improvement, and then created an FLL and FTC “Match-up” program which helped us form and place new recruits on teams. Our first workshop took place on the 8th, 9th and 10th of September 2018 and 38 students attended. We captured the highlights of this workshop on film and shared it with their parents; then, we asked those adults to get involved and to coach. We were able to create another FTC team at our school, recruit members for our own team, and start four new FLL robotics teams, which we are now mentoring on a weekly basis! We hope to help other schools and robotics teams develop these types of sustainability programs.