- Build a high-functioning robot with new innovative ideas that is able to complete every aspect of the SKYSTONE game from Game Strategy. (Build)
- To reach outside the STEM community with our educational programs and connect with real engineering professionals. (Connect)
- To get RPM’s word and brand out there to the point where it’s recognizable. (Business)
- To have an effective autonomous and tele-op program. (Programming)
- To maintain our already working sustainability program to support our team, other teams at MSA, and to help kids get interested in robotics. (Sustainability)
- Create a high-scoring strategy that will allow us to maximize time efficiency while working smoothly with other teams. The game strategy should directly influence the design of the robot. (Game Strategy)
- To uphold the Core Values and exhibit Gracious Professionalism in the FIRST community. (Core Values)
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 also consult with professionals to improve our designs.
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 second year team last year, and our team performed very well. We were frugal with our donated funds, and applied for many sponsorships. Through hard work, and a lot of advice from mentors, our team was able to progress to Worlds! We were then nominated for the Innovate Award! This journey was only made possible through a team effort.
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:
- Visiting a local 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.
- Developing a robotics workshop curriculum, hosting and teaching workshops for middle schoolers and making that curriculum available for use by other teams.
- Demonstrated and promoted FIRST Robotics at Star Wars Party @ R.H.Stafford Library.
- Developed a partnership with the Perpich Center for the Preforming Arts and introduced them into FIRST Robotics.
- At the Lego Workshop we introduced building and programming to middle schoolers in the community.
- Several of our members participated in the Apollo Robotics Challenge, honoring the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and working with NASA.
- At the Coin Festival children were allowed to drive the robot and learned about robotics.
- At SEAGATE we demonstrated the robot to employees.
- At Sibley County Fair we demonstraited our robot and spoke with the crowd about FTC.
- At Mustang Gear Gang, we taught how to use java to their team.
- At 3M Robotics Invade the Plaza we learned from FIRST Alumni about robotics.
- At NEXTGEN Block Party we allowed families to drive and did demos.
- At the Minnesota State Fair we participated in a design contest.
- At MSA Open House we recruited members for our team.
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. We have had workshops for multiple years, and they have been very successful. We captured the highlights of these workshops 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, in just one year! We hope to help other schools and robotics teams develop these types of sustainability programs.