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Iron Reign

Welcome to Iron Reign at Dallas ISD's Science and Engineering Magnet

Articles by section: business

Contacting Mark Cuban

23 May 2018

Contacting Mark Cuban By Abhi

Task: Get Funding from Mark Cuban

At the World Championship this year, Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST, talked about getting celebrity involvement in the robotics program. Very few celebrities support FIRST (will.i.am being the biggest) and will.i.am. sent a request through Kamen to all teams to reach out to closeby celebrities to get them involved in FIRST. As I sat in the crowd at Minute Maid Park, Kamen's words stuck with me on my journey home. I thought about how cool it would be to have celebrities support Iron Reign. However, I had no idea who to contact.

Still on the quest, I sat down to watch TV one day. As I scrolled through the channels, I found Shark Tank (one of my favorite shows). Then it hit me: I wanted Mark Cuban, a Dallas native, to support Iron Reign.

Mark Cuban, investor on Shark Tank and the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has been very important to Dallas. I decided to reach out to him to see if he would be willing to support us. I asked people at school if anyone knew Cuban or knew people who knew him. Luckily, my friend's father went to the same gym as him! Through my friend (Amanda), I reached out to Cuban. I drafted an email which would be sent through Amanda to Cuban.

Next Steps:

Now all I can do is wait for a reply!

Response from Mark Cuban

24 May 2018

Response from Mark Cuban By Abhi

Task: Reply to Cuban

After sending a small email to Cuban, he replied very soon asking for more details(shown above)! With this, I felt more confident I could make things happen. In my following email, I provided more details explaining the FTC program, from last years challenge (Relic Recovery) to the work we have done for Dallas. I also asked to present to Cuban about the team since Iron Reign tends to get information across best through presentations.

Next Steps:

Once again, it's time to wait for a reply!

Conversing with Mark Cuban

26 May 2018

Conversing with Mark Cuban By Abhi, Ethan, Janavi, Christian, Kenna, and Charlotte

Task: Explain Iron Reign

Once again, we got a positive response from Cuban! Unfortunately, we couldn't meet in person but I was still pursuing the sponsor path. For the next message, I decided to get some other members of the team on the project. Since this was our one shot to convince him, I drafted a much longer sponsor email, inspired by older emails to our sponsors. In this email, we provided specifics into what we can do with Cuban's support. With a monetary donation, we will either spend money on robot parts or save it to act as a seed donation for kick-starting a non-profit organization for Iron Reign. Since we are somewhat limited in our monetary abilities due to DISD "red tape", we wanted to develop this organization to better fund our team for years to come. Explaining all these details, our email came to a close. However, I still wanted for Cuban to "meet" the members of the team. From this stance, I decided that making a video from our team members would do the job. After some quick script writing, we developed the video shown below!

Next Steps:

Again, we wait for a reply!

Iron Reign sponsored by Mark Cuban

01 Jun 2018

Iron Reign sponsored by Mark Cuban By Abhi

In this post, I would like to thank Mr. Cuban for supporting Iron Reign. Today, we received a message from Mark Cuban's assistant stating that he would be contributing $2500 to Iron Reign. There is no end to how much this helps our team for the following season.

FIRST is an organization dedicated to promoting young minds in STEM. However, to participate in the program (specifically the Tech Challenge), many materials are needed. A successful team often needs funding to sustain itself for years to come. Mr. Cuban has allowed Iron Reign to actualize this through his support. With his help, we hope to continue to influence young children through our outreach and build better robots. Hopefully, we can return to the World Championship and bring Mr. Cuban to the greatness of FIRST.

Abbott Intern Week

22 Jun 2018

Abbott Intern Week By Kenna and Austin


Austin and I are interns at Abbott Laboritories' Dallas Site. This summer, we joined all other Abbott High School Interns for intern week. We toured sites all around the country, including Texas, Ohio, and Illinois, meeting other employees and learning what they do at that specific site. I discussed robotics with board members at AMIE (Advancing Minorities in Engineering) and the career implications of beginning in high school. Austin presented the MXP to a room full of interns, engineers, recruiters, analysts, and specialists. Our chaperones were kind enough to spend the week talking to us about their experiences as part of Abbott and the goal of the internship: keeping students interested and involved in STEM.
Even though Intern Week is over, we're both enthusiastic to return to our summer projects. Thus far, the summer has been a wonderfully STEM-filled experience.

Next Steps

As Austin and I continue our internship at Abbott, we're excited to keep getting hands-on engineering experience and learn more about getting a mentor from Abbott. I will be learning and using CAD to optimize a manufacturing process and will be using that experience in our design division in 6832.

CNC Machine Rehab 1

01 Jul 2018

CNC Machine Rehab 1 By Ethan and Charlotte

Task: Refurbish an Apple II CNC Mill and Lathe Set

We were helping our school's FRC team clean out their parts closet, which hadn't been cleaned in 10-ish years. Under the layers and layers of FRC junk, we found an Apple II-operated Patterson/Paxton CNC Milling Set. These were meant to run off of a long-since-gone Apple II in a classroom setting. But, it had long been auctioned off, leaving the set useless. But, Iron Reign, as a collective of hoarders, decided to bring these machines over to the house to refurbish.

The first idea we looked at was emulating the Apple II with an Arduino, as seen here. However, this implementation didn't have the response rate needed for an accurate CNC machine, so we scrapped it. Then, we found this post. The problem that people mainly encounter is that, for some strange reason, Paxton\Patterson used a proprietary parallel port pinout, and deviating from that pinout (read: using a standard parallel cord) would fry the optidriver board in the machine. So, we bought a ethernet-to-parallel port jumper box (UC300eth).

We then sliced a parallel cable in half, and rewired the wires to the pins, treating the left column of that of the port numbers on the board and the right as the pin numbers of the cables.



We then made a power supply for the UC300eth. We attempted to use a 10V DC power supply, and use a voltage splitter. Unfortunately, the power spiked, and probably fried the UC300.

Next Steps

We need to buy a new UC300 board and hook it up to a laptop with Mach3 to test the power.

Best Buy Grant

14 Aug 2018

Best Buy Grant By Ethan

Task: Recieve a grant from Best Buy for continued MXP operation

Last year, we recieved a $10,000 award to continue our RV operations, cover staffing costs, and pay for additional technology\repairs. This year, we received another grant of $10,000 for the same reason. This is another stepping stone in keeping Iron Reign and BigThought's MXP program substainable for another year. In addition, any donation amount encourages more donations in a kind-of snowball effect.

Next Steps

We will continue to seek out grants for not only the MXP, but also so that our team can remain substainable for years to come.

Iron Reign Grants!

30 Sep 2018

Iron Reign Grants! By Ethan

Task: Detail the grant awards that Iron Reign and its associated teams recieved

So, Iron Reign is currently training an influx of new members - so much that we've started two new teams: Iron Star Robotics and Iron Core. Of course, with this programmatic growth comes plenty of growing pains. A major part of that is finding funding for new teams. In that regard, Iron Reign applied for grants for itself as well as for its other 3 feeder teams. Namely, we applied for the TWC grant(s) and the FIRST in Texas Rookie Grant (sponsored by DEKA) for the new teams.

Today we reaped our results: we recieved $525 in funding for Iron Reign and Imperial and $1,525 for Iron Star and Iron Core from the Texas Workforce Commission, as well as $1,000 for Iron Star and Iron Core from DEKA. In addition, we've currently recieved $4,000 from the DISD STEM Department and $2,500 from Mark Cuban, for a cumulative total of $11,400 raised this season.

Next Steps

Even though this is a hefty amount of money - one of the largest hauls made by Iron Reign - it still isn't satisfactory. We now have two more teams, increasing Iron Reign's expenses and stretching simple resources such as 8mm M3s thin. So, we will always be seeking more funding.

MXP Expansion

20 Oct 2018

MXP Expansion By Ethan

Task: Update the engineering journal on changes to our MXP program

First, for a brief backstory: Iron Reign built the MXP - or Mobile Learning Lab - two seasons ago so that we could do outreach to underserved areas within our community. To do this, we partnered with BigThought, who recieved grants for laptops and technology aboard the vehicle. We spent that entire summer rennovating an old 90's RV so that it could become the Mobile Learning Lab. Then, last season, we presented at the National Science Teachers' Association in Kississimee, Florida, where we talked to educators in five other cities to start their own similar programs.

Now, let's return to the present season. As of today, BigThought is recieving $150k in funding to create a second Mobile Learning Lab. This funding is all-inclusive: the RV and technology aboard. As far as we know, this is the single largest fundraising haul any FTC team has ever recieved. Now, let me be clear, this is not funding to team costs such as registration and parts, but rather a larger-scale programmatic fund to continue and increase Iron Reign's outreach frequency. Luckily for us, we've secured a lot of funding this season already through Mark Cuban, individual donors, and FIRST in Texas grants.

Now, here comes the less-so-good news. Even though $150k is a monumental sum of money, it still falls short of the cost of a new MXP, by about $100k. However, the guarantee of over half of the necessary funding makes it much more likely that the additional funds will be secured to purchase the brand-new vehicle.

Next Steps

So the next steps are obviously to work with BigThought to find the additional $100k, but this is still huge - we may have broken a fundraising record. And besides that, this is what Iron Reign has always worked for: the platonic ideal of outreach. We have the ability to expand our program, make it more comprehensive, and make it substainable on it's own merit. This is a great day for Iron Reign, and therefore the world.

Dallas Chamber Leadership Council

30 Oct 2018

Dallas Chamber Leadership Council By Kenna, Janavi, Abhi, and Ethan

Presenting to Leadership Dallas Class of 2019

We'll be frank; we started the morning off unprepared. Our presentation was at 9. It was 8:30, and a few of us hadn't even seen the presentation before. I, for one, could feel a swell of panic as I practiced because I knew I wasn't prepared. Yet as soon as I started presenting, everything fell into place and I felt completely at ease. A year ago I never could have imagined feeling calm as I spoke to a room of 20 business people. That's what's so great about FTC: you develop skills far past building and programming. We managed to pull it off; it ended up being a fluid and cohesive presentation.

But that may not be the case every time. This Saturday we'll be going into presentation overdrive to ensure we aren't in this situation again.

The presentation was at our high school, the School of Science and Engineering, to the Leadership Dallas Class of 2019 as a part of their exploration of education in Dallas. "Founded in 1975, Leadership Dallas is the DRC’s flagship leadership development program, aimed at providing our city with an ongoing source of diverse leaders who are prepared and committed to serve as catalysts and sustainers of positive change for the quality of life in the greater Dallas area." Find more here.

There were 2 groups of about 10 people who learned about Iron Reign & FTC and toured SEM (Science Engineering Magnet) & its classes. There were employees from Big Thought, Uber, Turner Construction, Ernst & Young, and Channel 8 News to name a few. We'd especially like to name Stephanie from Channel 8 and Ryan Dyer for helping us get a website visit from Antartica. We'd been working on having a visit from all 7 continents for all of last year, and it finally came true!

After that, they got a tour of a deployment-ready MXP, full of laptops, 3D printers, EV3's, and teaching monitors. They were very interested in our SEM education and how it ties into what we are able to do as a part of Iron Reign and FTC. We discussed using our physics experience to conduct experiments for the materials we use on our robot, and SEM's freshmen Java class to do IMU coding.

We all loved how enthusiastic they were about improving Dallas and learning more about robotics in a high school education. It was a huge opportunity for us to spread STEM and FIRST to the Dallas community, and we hope to do so again in the future. We'd like to give a huge thank you to Leadership Dallas Class of 2019 for spending their morning with us.

Next Steps

We were lucky enough to talk to Leandre Johns of Uber about what the opportunities they could offer our team and our community in helping underserved communities learn about STEM.

Contact Us

E-Mail: ironreignrobotics@gmail.com Website: In the address bar