Articles by tag: journal

Articles by tag: journal

    Robotics UIL 2016

    Robotics UIL 2016 By Ethan, Evan, Caitlin, Darshan, Jayesh, Janavi, Trace, Max, Tycho, and Omar

    Task: Compete in UIL Robotics in Austin

    A bit of background:
    UIL is a Texas-specific organization that hosts competitions in both academic and athletic pursuits. This year, they ran a pilot program for Robotics, using the FTC rules and field from Res-Q. About 72 teams competed in the FTC-based competition, which then was split into two catagories. Unlike regular FIRST tournaments, the awards not earned by competition are given through nomination by other teams.

    • Mentor Recognition Award
    • Leadership Award
    • Creativity in Design Award
    • Gracious Professionalism Award
    • Play of the Day Award
    • Safety Award
    • Team Spirit Award
    On Wednesday, July 27, the team came down in a charter bus, with the MXP. That night, we did some last-minute working on the robot. [insert image here] The next day, we woke up early, and headed down to the Austin Convention Center. We pitched a tent and blow-up couch, and generally set up. We used the competition as an opportunity to promote our twitter. The first match, we did horrible. Our robot dug itself into the ground as if it were near the trench-lines of WW1. After giving us its best WW1 re-enactment, it started jettisoning parts, similar to how a Space Shuttle jettisons its external tank. Matches 2-5 were mostly uneventful. We only won two of them, but there were no similar dramatic happenings like match one. After match one, we atttempted to present our team to other teams, as we brought in a TV. A quick list of notable things that happened in this time period were:
    • Bringing one of the 3D printers inside and printing parts
    • Making a last-minute climber-holder
    • A bird flying into the convention center
    • Our presentation computer updating to Windows 10
    • Our robot falling off the mountain

    On Friday, we were not picked to be in the final matches, and unfortunately, we were not picked for any awards. We did, however, meet up with our school's FRC team and say hi, as their competition was starting. After the awards ceremony, we decided to leave. On the way back to the hotel, we noticed the Texas Workforce Commission building, which is one of our sponsors. So, we parked our RV up by the side of the building, and walked in. We talked to the receptionist, and within a few minutes, one of the TWC execs came down to talk to us and take pictures. We gave them a tour of our RV as well, and they seemed impressed, even if it was in post-tournament disarray.

    Reflections

    While this tournament was not our best tournament by a margin the size of the Mongol Empire circa 1279 C.E., we were able to interact with teams in Texas that we normally would not have, get exposure for the MXP all the way down I35, and talk to our one of our sponsors in person. As well, it gave us experience for the future and was a great teambuilding activity. If we get invited to UIL next year, we know what to do to win.

    Adding Blog Features

    Adding Blog Features By Ethan

    Task: Add Cool and New Blog Features

    I remember, vaguely, that someone on our team wanted to add a post counter for all the posts people appear in. And, today, I did it out of sheer boredom. And, here it is.

    {% assign eh = 1 %}
    {% assign dc = 1 %}
    {% assign ed = 1 %}
    {% assign or = 1 %}
    {% assign js = 1 %}
    {% assign cr = 1 %}
    {% assign dp = 1 %}
    {% assign mv = 1 %}
    {% assign tv = 1 %}
    {% assign jc = 1 %}
    {% assign inc = 1 %}
    {% for post in site.posts %}
      {% for name in post.rollcall %}
        {% if name == "Ethan" %}
          {% assign eh = eh | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Dylan" %}
          {% assign dc = dc | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Evan" %}
          {% assign ed = ed | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Omar" %}
          {% assign or = or | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Jayesh" %}
          {% assign js = js | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Caitlin" %}
          {% assign cr = cr | plus: 1 %}     {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Darshan" %}
          {% assign dp = dp | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Max" %}
          {% assign mv = mv | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Tycho" %}
          {% assign tv = tv | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Janavi" %}
          {% assign jc = jc | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
      {% endfor %}
      {% assign inc = inc | plus: 1 %}
    {% endfor %}
    <ul>
      <li> Dylan Chorley - in {{dc}} posts</li>
      <li> Evan Daane - in {{ed}} posts</li>
      <li> Ethan Helfman - in {{eh}} posts</li>
      <li> Omar Ramirez - in {{or}} posts</li>
      <li> Caitlin Rogers - in {{cr}} posts</li>
      <li> Jayesh Sharma - in {{js}} posts</li>
      <li> Darshan Patel - in {{dp}} posts</li>
      <li> Maximillian Virani - in {{mv}} posts</li>
      <li> Tycho Virani - in {{tv}} posts</li>
      <li> Janavi Chadha - in {{jc}} posts</li>
    </ul>

    Now, this is not obviously the best code, there's probably a more efficient way than creating one variable per person. But, it works.
    We've been making improvements on the site since the season began - changing the theme, Caitlin's commits that updated the blog for the new season, and purging old member bios from the team, just like how Stalin purged political dissidents from pictures and sent them to gulags.

    Edit: We now have a Iron Reign stats page! We have spent a solid two hours debugging this so please appreciate it. We addded Austin, and cumulative personhours for team members and Iron Reign as a whole.

    Reflections

    We still need to work on the blog. At least for my computer, it takes a long time to load the actual site as it loads every single post made, so I'd like to add pagination. As well, I'd personally want to add a second theme for very easy readability, something like this.

    Arkansas State Competition 2016

    Arkansas State Competition 2016 By Ethan, Evan, Caitlin, Janavi, Jayesh, Omar, Darshan, Max, and Tycho

    Task: Compete in the 2016 Arkansas State Competition

    This year, to give our team a better chance of going to super-regionals for the first time, we decided to enter the Arkansas regional. We were actually pretty far ahead compared to our last seasons. We had a finished robot, a working autonomous, and good drivers.

    Upon arrival, we had to make some last minute changes to our robot in order to pass inspection, as it was too bumpy in the RV. So , we huddled in the school's band room and attached our side shields and team number, making it just in time for inspection. We set up our table for the competition as well.

    Upon arriving to the hotel, we realized that we hadn't really practiced our presentation at all, so we had to hold a last minute session until 12. After that, a few team members fell asleep for the next day, but most boarded the RV and worked on the robot and autonomous until ~2 in the morning.

    We woke up refreshed (totally), and went to the tournament. In order, we had: opening ceremony, the presentation, and then the four games. First, right before the presentation, we found that our robot, despite working the night before, now refused to accept any motor commands. This was due to the way our code handled controller events, so we had to change that last minute. Also, due to just having last minute practice in the presentation (and being tired), we didn't preform as well as we would have liked.

    The Game

    In the first match, we performed way better than we expected, and actually won the game. However, we discovered that our robot has a static issue due to the way the wheels slide, so we had to reboot it during the match.
    In the second match, we lost. This was partially due to the static issue and partially due to the fact that we were paired with an inexperienced team. We helped show them the ropes, however, and saw a lot of the origins of our team in them. We wish them the best and hope they can progress.
    In the third, fourth, and fifth match, we won all our matches, even though our static issue got worse. Our relatively consistent autonomous, paired with the beacon and ball scoring fared us well against our opponents. We need to build on these strengths, while also introducing end game flexibility with cap ball scoring.

    We did not get picked for alliances, even though we were in 8th place with a 4-1 record. this was probably a knock on our scouting and relation building with the other teams. We'll make sure to build on that for future competitions.

    Reflections

    We had issues at the tournament due to static and scouting issues. The scouting issue was particularly bad due to these reasons:

    • Staying on the RV and not interacting with other teams
    • Alliance negotiations were started too late
    • Misjudging other teams

    This tournament gave us valuable experience for the qualifiers we have coming up. We have now fixed the static and controller issues. We were also able to judge the progress of other teams and compare it to ours. By the time of the qualifier, we should have some advantages over the other teams.

    Judging and Awards

    Judging and Awards By Caitlin, Jayesh, Omar, Tycho, and Max

    Task: Increase chances to advance in judging

    In our competitions we really can't rely on our robot performing as well as it does in practice and our sparring matches with Imperial. If we're going to increase our chances of advancing from Regionals to Super-Regionals 90% of the time it's going to be from judging. We've always had rocky presentations in my opinion, but this year we're getting our energy up and trying to get everyone more interactive. We've heard that the organizers are having trouble getting enough judges, so it's likely the judges will be a little inexperienced. We're making a colored tab and blurb for each award to place at the front of our journal. We'll have a little paragraph on why we think we should be considered for each award, followed by a handful of key posts we believe back up our claim. Each award has a color, each post gets a number, and we place colored tabs (think these post-it flags) with a number written on the printed page.

    Reflections

    Judges don't have much time to inspect pages before a presentation, so it's the job of the first person who goes in to give the journal, a presentation copy (or 2 depending on the table space), and a short description of what's going on. This includes reference pages such as the awards and a copy of our scouting flier. Judges mostly listen and take notes during a presentation, so we don't want to overload them with pages to look at initially, but have enough information available to look through at the main judges meeting. The easier it is for a judge to get a sense of our team, the higher likelihood they will mention us in award considerations. This is a hard balance to strike, but the tabs served us well last year and I should have gotten them together again a while ago. Jayesh and Omar went through our tag page, picking the key ones to bring up. Tycho and Max continued working on their technical posts.

    2017 North Texas Regional

    2017 North Texas Regional By Ethan, Evan, Jayesh, Charlotte, Tycho, Caitlin, Max, Darshan, and Janavi

    Task: Win the North Texas regionals

    Summary: We won

    On Febuary 25, we drove our RV to W.E. Pete Ford Middle School, in Allen, TX. The tournament was split into two divisions, and for many of our members, this was our first time encountering that layout. We didn't have any of our team members going to Dean's List interviews this time. We still didn't have an operable cap-ball lift, and this was our first time using our flywheel shooter in a tournament setting.

    We did decently in our presentation, but it could have gone better. We made a few missteps in our presentation and had a few stumbles. However, we did a great job of presenting to the judges who were walking around. We would greet judges and attempt to present to them, ending up presenting to two separate groups of judges about our robot's design, helping low-income families in STEM fields, and our team history. As well, we talked to one of the FIRST directors, Ken Johnson, about our MXP, and we ended up bringing him out to it to show off.

    In the game, we did pretty well. We ended up 5th place, and got picked as 2nd pick for the 1st alliance. We ended up getting all the way to finals, but we didn't win due to the fact that the opposing alliance had Technical Difficulties on it. During the normal games, we won [3-1]. We had issues with our beacon-pressing erasers falling off, so we designed a new "eraser" out of foam tape with a layer of thick tape on top in order to still be able to press the button. Our robot did stop responding during one game, but compared to our previous experiences, that was actually pretty good.

    The reflections post can be viewed here.

    Regional Postmortem

    Regional Postmortem By Ethan, Caitlin, Austin, Jayesh, Omar, Darshan, Max, and Tycho

    Task: Analyse what we did right and wrong at regionals

    Scouting:

    Good

    • Detailed scouting sheets
    • Had good inter-team dynamic
    • Organized
    • Pre-scouted

    Bad

    • Not scouting matches
    • Didn't record matches
    • Scouting sheet on one computer
    • Only one scouting team

    Notes: While we did well with scouting, it could have gone off much better. We made some mistakes by accidentally scouting teams in the other division and not watching matches when we should have.

    Presentation:

    Good

    • Eventually got into a groove
    • 🔥🔥Darshan's sick beats🔥🔥
    • Emphasized MXP
    • We were entertaining

    Bad

    • Messed up the intro
    • Not about past achievements
    • Transition timing
    • Only one scouting team

    Notes: We need to work on the group dynamic and enthusiasm a bit more. As well, we're going to stick Darshan under the cart so he can pop out with those 🔥🔥sick beats🔥🔥.

    To-do

    Promotion:

    • Need to make a reveal video
    • Need to advertise on social media
    • Design booth for super-regionals
    • Write more blog posts
    • Promote & Outreach videos
    • Banner holder designs

    Design & Programming:

    • Fix robot shooting accuracy
    • Replace erasers with silicone
    • Cap the ball
    • Robot vision
    • Build 2nd spinner
    • Model the robot

    Dinner Discussions

    Dinner Discussions By Caitlin, Max, Tycho, Jayesh, Darshan, and Evan

    Task: Set last practices' priorities

    Many members were out of town this break but we still managed to make a good deal of progress. What we forgot to do was post about it. Github kept track of code edits and we have other records of the practices, so we have a list of 11 articles to be written by this Sunday at the latest. Tomorrow's practice (Saturday March 18th) will be focused on:

    • Driver practice
    • Presentation practice
    • Staging as much as possible for packing

    Reflections

    Each member is assigned an article for this weekend and we won't be taking up practice time for this. The list was originally written on my plate after I had pizza, but it's now being sent in our chat and updated as people write. Omar posted his first, an hour before I'm writing this.
    Also: Ethan - Please. Don't use backslashes. I have to edit your posts 90% of the time because your paths break in the tag index pages.

    Beautiful. Truly.

    Darshan's Farewell

    Darshan's Farewell By Darshan

    Task: Adios mis amigos

    Well... this is somewhat of a bittersweet moment for me. All of us seniors are leaving for college in hopes of spreading our horizons and making something of ourselves, but we're leaving this team that has become almost a second family. It's been a good few years since I first joined this team and I never thought that I would even make it to this point. I've learned so much in my tenure with this team, from all the technical stuff that goes into the robot building process itself, to building my teamwork and communication skills, and that has actually been one of the things I've enjoyed most. Meting new people and teaching both kids and parents the importance of the STEM field has been great especiaclly, when you see their faces light up. I've made many friends through this team and I know I'll keep in touch with some for a long time. The experiences I've had here are some that will last a lifetime, from riding in the RV all the way to Arkansas to the time we finaly made it SuperRegionals. But we've had our fair share of dissaapointment as well as sucess, but as a team we always bounced back. Something I hope the future of this team continues to do, succeed and bounce back. Hopefully y'all make it to Worlds next year XD. And in the words of YFN Lucci: "EVERYDAY WE LIT!!!" p.s. lil yachty

    Omar's Farewell

    Omar's Farewell By Omar

    Task: Bye :'(

    Hooray for graduation! Sort of. As we seniors write our farewell blog posts before we head to college, we have a lot of years to think about. In my case, I only have my 4 years of high school to pull from, but that's more than enough to express my gratitude for being on this team. I've learned so much in so many different areas, and not just scientific ones. I've learned about being on a team, about the logistics of managing said team, and about reaching out to my local community to spread STEM to the next generation of scientists and engineers. I've made a ton of awesome friends, as well as improved my personal and group communication skills (which were lacking before and are still lacking now, but they've still improved a ton). I hope I can apply some of my knowledge to my future, so that I may one day have a Lamborghini and drive around Beverly Hills. My best wishes to the team for the future! (You're going to worlds next year. -_-)

    So, You're Writing a Blog Post

    So, You're Writing a Blog Post By Ethan

    Frontmatter

    layout: Do not touch.
    title: Title of your article (you can't use hyphens or colons.) tags: Enter as comma seperated list, case insensitive. Try to use one award and one normal tag

    • Tips - tips and tricks for other teams.
    • Journal - working on the journal, blog, and posts like this one.
    • Outreach - volunteering and special events. Ex. Moonday, NSTA
    • Mechanical - work on the robot, parts, building, ect.
    • Software - programming.
    • Business - grants, funding, ect.
    • Organization - organizing, cleaning physical things.
    • Video - if you have a video, nothing else.
    • Private - will NOT show up on the blog page
    • Pinned - pins post as first on the homepage until the tag is removed.
    • Inspire - (award) all around good posts, important things for judges like NSTA, or a post going over our robot in detail
    • Connect - business award
    • Innovate - design process and uniqueness award
    • Design - award about how well documented and designed your robot is
    • Motivate - recruitment, representing STEM/FIRST
    • Control - coding award

    section: Choose team, engineering, or business.
    personhours: Calculate using # of people * hours worked. One number.
    rolecall: People who participated in the post, comma seperated. Author of post goes first.

    REMEMBER: keep the space between the colon and the information, and dont touch the "---"s.

    Rules

    Task: Used for succinctly describing what you did
    Body of Post: Describe what you did, how you did, ect..
    Reflections: Used to say how something worked out, your creative process, expectations, ect.
    Images: Must be 600px wide. Use as many as you'd like. Save in images.
    Videos: Use the default YouTube embed.
    Embedded Insta/Twitter Posts: DON'T put in the first paragraph. You will break the blog.
    Filenames: Save as YYYY-MM-DD-NAME.html in _posts. If unfinished, Draft-YYYY-MM-DD-NAME.html

    Dear Iron Reign

    Dear Iron Reign By Jayesh

    Dear Iron Reign,

    8 years ago, when I walked into Mr. Schulte’s room after school, I didn’t realize my life was about to change dramatically. I’d heard there was a robotics club which was attempting to be started. I’d had sparse experience with the subject, through extraneous events like the annual Engineering Saturday at UTA, so I decided to give it a shot. When I walked through that door on the second floor, I didn’t realize I would find my second family and grow in ways which were then unimaginable to me.

    Iron Reign began as a play on words from a natural phenomenon on Jupiter. It began as a group of 10 energetic, passionate, and probably annoying geeks with no idea what they were getting into. Through everything I’ve learned intellectually though these years, my favorite part has been the growth we’ve gone through, both as individuals and as a group. I’ve seen us struggle through all manners of competition, conflict, and always come out on top. The team served as a place I personally could start to build, what I came to realize, my future. I wanted to acknowledge the individuals which made this group as special as it is, so here we go (in no particular order):

    Charlotte, it has been a pleasure getting to know you this year. I wish we’d met and talked more earlier, but you immediately stood out to me because of your kindness and quiet dedication to what you care about. It was great talking and joking around with you. Don’t let the others (looking at you Ethan) bully you, just lemme know if they make too many Vegan comments. They’re just jealous you’re healthier than they are. I look forward to seeing how you progress.

    Austin, it has been a fun two years getting to know you. Your passion and dedication to those you care about has always endeared me towards you. Your transition to Iron Reign was as seamless as I could’ve fathomed. You immediately meshed with our hardworking and fun-loving personalities, and it has given me even more hope to where this team is going to be. Stay true to yourself, and I trust you to ensure this team doesn’t lose who we are.

    Ethan, you were one of the original memebers, ahem, members of the team. Since the very beginning, I knew you would be both essential to the team, as well as a good friend to me. Your technical expertise, as well as your ever- positive personality, has been essential to who we are as a team. You’ve especially made my role on the team easier, as you are always so willing to work with other people, even on tasks you aren’t comfortable doing. Stop bullying Charlotte so much, keep growing, it’s been a fun ride.

    Tycho, you have been the person who has always challenged me on why I do what I do. You’ve made it possible for me to concentrate on the team as a whole, and not get lost only focusing on singular tasks. You are individually one of the most intelligent people I’ve met. It has been great seeing how you’ve advanced, especially in functioning as a team player. I hope you continue to grow in everything you commit to.

    Janavi, I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of a person on the team as I have been of you. Your growth since we met you has been astonishing. We’ve joked about your affinity towards duct tape since the beginning, but you’ve grown so much since then. When you came in, you had such a desire to learn as much as you could, and made an immediate positive impact on a veteran team. The reason people say we cherry pick our members is because we have people like you who come into the team. Keep your kind and inclusive personality, it’ll serve you well.

    Evan, since day one of Iron Reign, you’ve had a direct impact to both the team’s success, as well as my progress as an individual. You’ve grown to become such a mature, and hardworking person. Seeing you take more of an assertive and self-motivated role on the team made it so much easier for us to be successful. Exploring Atlanta with you is a memory I won’t forget. Thank you for inviting us to your play, your playwriting is unique and characteristic of what may become your future. Keep your positive and dedicated personality, I look forward to see how you grow.

    So, I lied earlier, I did purposely leave my seniors for last, so here we go:

    Caitlin, you joined us a year after the team was formed. I remember how nervous you were about joining the team, especially as you were the first girl to be on it. Since day one, those concerns should’ve been voided, with how vital you’ve been to our team dynamic. You had a maturity about you, even back in 7th grade, which served as a reference and base point for us. You were essential for us, both systematically, and as the person actually caring about organization (rip). Thank you for everything, I can’t wait to see all the good things you do at MIT.

    Darshan, I’ve known you for so long, it’s actually ridiculous. Since I met you in elementary school, I’ve always thought of you as a brother of mine. We’ve fought, joked around, and grown through the years. I’ve been especially proud of your courage to fight off your introverted nature, and do things for the team, both in practices, and even on our presentation (dropping bars though), which you were originally uncomfortable with. You’re going to do fantastic at UT, and I hope you continue to challenge yourself as I know you can do.

    Max, since I met you in 5th grade, I knew there was more to you than the eye could see. One of my favorite parts of being a part of this team is in working and joking around with you every week. You show who you really are in front of the people you truly care about, and are comfortable with, and that’s precious to me. Your intelligence always astounds me, and I know there are good things in store for you. You are going to absolutely destroy UTD (in a good way), and I look forward to seeing what you do my bro. I look forward to seeing how you and your memes progress.

    Omar, as you said, we’ll probably still be meming around by the time this all ends. You have been a brother to me since we started really talking to each other back in middle school. It has been fantastic seeing how you’ve branched out being a part of this team. I know you don’t get too much into sentimental things, but I will always be there for you my man. Your intelligence and savvy are going to serve you well. You’re going to do fantastic things at Notre Dame, and I look forward to our endless discord calls when we all have time to play.

    This team wouldn’t have been possible without two specific people. Our FCE, our OTP, whichever you prefer, but Mr. Karim Virani, and Dr. Catherine Lux; you two have been the basis for everything this team has ever done. None of this would’ve been possible without you two deciding to dedicate a significant portion of your lives to all of us. You have made time and effort specifically just so we can have a better future, and I can’t even express how grateful I am for it. Your home has become ours, and your welcoming arms have always been a sanctuary for us. Mr. Virani, your technical expertise, as well as your never-ending dedication to listening to us has always been something I’ve treasured. We’ve been able to discuss anything and everything, and that openness to everything we do has been essential to forming what this team has become. Dr. Lux, your kindness and willingness to listen to us has taught us what’s important beyond the robotics which we do. You two balance each other in such a beautiful way, it inspires us to be both successful in what we do, as well as overall being good people. Thank you for all of this. You’ve sacrificed a lot for us, now it’s on us to create the positive change in our world which you’ve emphasized. Thank you for being my second family.

    The seniors will be back every winter and see how everyone is doing. I have been so proud and honored to work and be with every single one of you. You have taught me the meaning and importance of what I want to do in the future. You have shown me what it is to better the world, while accomplishing difficult technical tasks. You’ve taught me that a leader isn’t just one who encourages others to do better, it’s also one who has to see the importance of even the smallest task in how a larger goal is accomplished. Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart. It has been an absolute pleasure and honor to be with you all. The future is bright for this team, and not just in regards to First ;).

    Much Love,
    Jayesh Sharma