Articles by tag: motivate

Articles by tag: motivate

    Iron Reign earns FTC World Championship Motivate Award

    Iron Reign earns FTC World Championship Motivate Award

    Last week at the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics World Championship in Houston, Team 6832, Iron Reign, from the School of Science and Engineering in Dallas ISD earned the Motivate award which ranks them at the top in the outreach category.


    Top Row: Justin Bonsell, Christian Saldana, Charlotte Leakey, Tycho Virani, Evan Daane, Austin Davis
    Bottom: Janavi Chadha, Kenna Tanaka, Abhijit Bhattaru, Karina Lara and Ethan Helfman
    coached by Karim Virani, Cathy Lux and Calvin Boykin

    Each of the 5,200 active robotics teams this year is expected and encouraged to share their passion for robotics and all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) with younger students who haven't had the same opportunities. One hundred and twenty eight of these teams from around the world earned spots at this championship, including teams from the USA, Canada, Mexico, South America, the Middle East, the Pacific Rim and China. Iron Reign received this recognition for their work in creating, operating and sustaining the Mobile Tech eXPerience, an RV that they converted to a mobile STEM lab in order to support the work of Big Thought and the Dallas City of Learning Initiative.

    On board the vehicle, students can learn to program one of sixteen sumo robots, design 3D objects and print them on one of the four 3D printers, learn to program in Scratch or create virtual worlds in Minecraft. The robotics team converted the vehicle and helped run the pilot program in summer 2016. This school year their goal has been to help Big Thought sustain the vehicle by continuing to support deployments, improve the curriculum and simply "make it loud." And now Big Thought is taking vehicle operations year-round. With this vehicle and accomplished instructors, Big Thought is bringing STEM exposure into under-served neighborhoods to help young students think of themselves as future engineers, scientists or technologists. This year alone the team has contributed 680 hours supporting 15 deployments of the vehicle to neighborhoods and large events. They've taught or spoken with over 3,400 students or parents at these events, and they've shared curriculum and the story of the vehicle nationwide by participating at the National Science Teachers Association STEM Expo.

    This video will tell you more about the MXP from the perspective of the team members:

    In the robot game the team finished 26 of 64 teams in their division, a good showing for a first-time Worlds team with a new young drive team. And Dr. Woodie Flowers, lead mentor of FIRST and Professor Emeritus at MIT signed and kissed our robot:

    The team is fully appreciative of all of the support they've received this year. Special mention goes to Big Thought, Jeff Marx and Joe Schelanko of the Dallas ISD STEM Department, the SEM PTSA, the School of Science and Engineering staff and our advisor Calvin Boykin, Principal Andrew Palacios, Executive Director Tiffany Huitt and the tireless parents of all team members.

    Please see the team website for more information. The team will be going to the UIL State Championship in Austin on May 18. Finally, here is our robot reveal:

    School of Science and Engineering Freshman Orientation

    School of Science and Engineering Freshman Orientation By Austin and Shaggy

    Task: Speak to 200 prospective recruits about Iron Reign

    Today, we attended the Science and Engineering Magnet's annual freshman orientation. All prospective students are required to attend.

    Since more than half of our team are going to graduating next year, we're already thinking about the 2019-2020 season. We want to start members early so we can ensure an effective transfer of knowledge between our rising juniors and new teammates. The best way to learn is through hands-on experience that this coming season could give them. This means that the recruiting season starts here and now.

    We drove it through the crowd and spoke to over 20 families about our work in FTC, the robot, competition, and more. There were many kids who were very interested in FTC. We answered much more specific questions with them, like what the time commitment is, why we chose specific parts, etc. It was great to see such enthusiasm for STEM at such a young age! At one point, they started giving us building suggestions like where to add support bars.

    Overall, the event was a big success. We made lots of meaningful connections with incoming students and have some prospective members. We look forward to attending next year and maybe welcoming some new teammates.

    You can watch a short video of the event here

    Turn Up! at Dallas Love Field

    Turn Up! at Dallas Love Field By Justin, Ethan, Charlotte, Kenna, Abhi, and Evan

    Task: Present at the Dallas Love Field for the DCOL Turn Up! Event

    Every year, the Frontiers of Flight Museum hosts Turn Up!, an event where kids can learn about science and math. Once again, we brought the MXP equipped with 3D printers, Lego sumobots, and our world class FTC robot, Kraken. We ran the sumobots on a table outside of the MXP and 3D printing inside. We also demoed Kraken and Argos, which were great attention grabbers to get kids interested in the MXP. The kids enjoyed programming the Lego sumobots and battling them against each other, as well as creating their very own customized 3D printed key chain. The 3D printers were very busy this year so we had to create extra space outside of the MXP for more laptops with the 3D printing software.

    We drove Kraken around the exhibition room and talked to many interested parents about the joy of robotics. While we talked to the parents, someone driving the robot would showcase the capabilities of Kraken by bringing kids glyphs and shaking hands with the relic arm. Kraken was great for showing families what FTC is about. We also had Argos for display but the steering was broken so we didn't drive it. Around 1100 people turned up to the event and we talked to most of them about what we do here at Iron Reign. Turn Up was a great opportunity to introduce kids to the world of STEM and robotics and we hope to have more opportunities like this in the future.

    2018-19 Connect and Outreach Strategy

    2018-19 Connect and Outreach Strategy By Ethan

    Task: Discuss Iron Reign's Awards Strategy for the Upcoming Season

    FTC is undergoing a series of changes next year that will most likely negatively impact Iron Reign's ability to advance to further levels. Given that there are about 5,400 teams in FTC for the 2017-2018 season and 256 teams advance to worlds, 4.7% of teams advanced to worlds this year. Next year however, the amount of teams will increase, but the amount of domestic teams advancing to worlds will stay the same. Effectively, the percentage of teams advancing to Worlds will decrease, so that some regions may lose advancement spots.

    The best plan to advance is still a dual focus on awards and game. So, we need to up our game. Talking about our RV, while still impressive, has lost its luster with Dallas-area judges. We're still using the RV, and doing our normal outreach, but we plan to aggressively pursue business and engineering contacts. We've already received around $5,000 from individual donors, and received a separate $2,500 grant from Mark Cuban. In addition, members of our team are working at companies such as Verizon, ESi, Abbott, Parkland, and more; all the while gaining contacts in those industries.

    We have our work cut out for us, this year will be additionally challenging, losing one of our coders and one builder. We're training people in the skillsets that we're losing out over the summer, and we're also seeking FRC teams to mentor (we want to flip the traditional dichotomy of FRC teams training FTC teams on its head). We really want to get to Worlds this year - its the last year that any of the original members are on the team, and we want to go out with a bang.

    Next Steps

    • Seek further business and engineering connections
    • Extend assistance for FIRST outreach
    • Continue team training
    • Continue RV outreach
    • Seek continued grants from TWC and other TX sponsors

    2018-2019 Recruitment

    2018-2019 Recruitment By Ethan

    Task: Recruit members for the upcoming robotics season

    At the end of last season, we had two members graduate, Austin and Tycho. Their upcoming "goodbye" posts will be posted here, the same as last year. So, we wanted to recruit at least one member to replace them. Recruitment methods that we had used in the past, such as posters and Townview recruitment seminars, had failed to gain any meaningful recruitment. So, we fell back on our secondary, having individual team members submit possible recruits, as well as recruiting from our JV team. This year, we already have Justin. Last year, we had Kenna and Abhi as a submitted recruit. The year before, we had Janavi and Austin.

    These prospective recruits are required to fill out a Google Form on our website, titled signup. We had this post stickied for the better part of last year. Of all the people who were asked to fill out this form, we had three people respond, with a fourth potential recruit being the younger sibling of our leaving members. Our current step is vetting the current recruits - we have two interested in coding, one in building, and one no-show. We're giving the recruits tasks to weed them out, the ones that are less experienced will be shunted back into our JV team.

    Next Steps

    We will recruit 1-3 members out of these recruits and teach them the other aspects that they don't have experience in: writing, code, tools, etc.

    Central Public Library Outreach Event

    Central Public Library Outreach Event By Ethan, Kenna, Charlotte, and Evan

    Task: Present at the J. Erik Jonsson Public Library

    This Saturday, we drove down to the J. Erik Jonsson library to present at the Dallas City of Learning Discovery Fair. We brought our sumo-bot equipment to the library, as well as a few of our new and old bots, such as cartbot (a mobile air cannon), bigwheel (a new testing robot), and Kraken (our Worlds robot).

    We presented for about 4 hours, talking to about 190 kids. We had multiple parents interested in starting FLL teams, and many other children entertained by our new mobile cannon.

    Moon Day 2018

    Moon Day 2018 By Karina, Ethan, Janavi, and Charlotte

    Task: Reach out to the community and spread the magic of robotics

    Iron Reign had a great time today at the Frontiers of Flight Museum for the 2018 Moon Day. We demoed three of our robots today: Argos, Kraken, and Big Boi. Kids were very interested in watching our robots drive. Big Boi was a fan-favorite because of its speed and the attached can launcher. Kids were also given the opportunity to drive Argos around. We were also able to interest kids in FTC when we explained Kraken, our robot from the previous season and demonstrated how it could pick up glyphs. In total, we spoke to approximately 200 individuals.

    Besides driving our finished robots, we made progress on Garchomp, another robot with mecanum drive serving as a replica for Kraken. We explained our design to people and why we like the mecanum drive so much. Many parents were interested in getting their children involved in a robotics team because they could see the build process at its middle stages in Garchomp and as well as the finished product in Kraken.

    Next Steps

    Here at Iron Reign, we value the community's interest in robotics. We will continue to make ourselves and our robots accessible to the community at future outreach event, and we will also encourage kids to get involved in STEM.

    SEM Nest Outreach

    SEM Nest Outreach By Arjun

    Task: Present about STEM to new freshmen at SEM

    Today Iron Reign presented at the New Student Orientation (NEST) camp at our school, SEM. All incoming freshman were there. We had two sessions, one with 3D modeling, and another with sumo-bots. We also drove around two of our robots from last year, Kraken and Argos. We gave the freshmen chances to drive around these robots. Most of the students were very interested in our presentation, and a few even signed up to join Iron Reign because of it. We spoke with around 160 students.

    Next Steps

    Here at Iron Reign, we value the community's interest in robotics, especially the students at our school. We will continue to make ourselves and our robots accessible to the community at future outreach events, and we will also encourage kids to get involved in STEM. We hope to recruit many of the students who were interested in robotics from our meeting.

    Best Buy Grant

    Best Buy Grant By Ethan

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

    Last year, we received 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 sustainable 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 sustainable for years to come.

    Dallas Back to School Fair

    Dallas Back to School Fair By Ethan and Kenna

    Task: Present at the Dallas Back to School Fair at O.W. Holmes

    Today we brought the MXP over to O.W. Holmes Academy in South Oak Cliff for our usual presentation. We spoke to about 130 children, doing our usual sumobots and 3D printing sessions.

    Next Steps

    We have a few more outreach events before our season goes into full swing, so we need to get in touch with as many people as possible.

    Hey New Members!

    Hey New Members! By Kenna

    Hopefully, you're here because you heard our announcement or saw our flyers. Even if not, welcome! We are team 6832 Iron Reign Robotics. We've been a FIRST team since 2010 and currently compete in FIRST Tech Challenge. Some have been on the team for a few months, others over half their lives. We design, build, and code robots, but we also spend a lot of our time on the MXP. We won the Motivate Award at the World Championships for the creation and sustainment of the MXP. On our team you will learn practical skills, like how to solder programming wires, and soft skills, like how to present to a panel of judges.

    If you are interested, please fill out our form for potential members. We are also having an interest meeting at Townview Magnet Center on August 30th in room 363. Feel free to explore our blog or learn more about us.

    2018-19 Recruitment

    2018-19 Recruitment By Ethan, Kenna, Charlotte, Janavi, Abhi, and Arjun

    Task: Recruit new members for the 2018-19 season

    Last year, Iron Reign lost two members, so we're only looking for 2-3 members to replace them and their particular skillsets. However, our sister team, Imperial Robotics (3734) lost nine members. So, we decided to host a recruitment session at our school to find interested freshmen.

    We put up posters around the school, and got a healthy crowd - 30 people. We talked about Iron Reign's history, needed levels of commitment for various teams, and what the average person will do on the team. We also answered questions about the team from the crowd. Of those people who attended, 17 signed up for a testing session next week, including two former members of Iron Reign, Alisa and Trace.

    Next Steps

    We will hold training sessions to assess each potential members skills, then divy them up with Imperial Robotics.

    Bigwheel Presentation

    Bigwheel Presentation By Arjun and Karina

    Task: Present about Garchomp

    As a new freshman on Iron Reign, I took on the responsibility of a robot we called Bigwheel. Karina and I worked on getting the robot into something that could be put through load tests, meaning tightening the chain, fixing misaligned sprockets, and getting the wiring together. We participated in the Chassis Presentation workshop hosted by technicbots for teams all around the North Texas region to work on one or more chassis, perform various tests with them and then present their findings. We presented our chassis Bigwheel, which is driven by 2 large 8-inch wheels, with a pair of 2 free-spinning Omni wheels in the back. This can be seen in the presentation below:

    To create our chassis we used 2 8-inch wheels, each driven by 2 Neverrest 60 motors. There are also two free-spinning omni wheels in the back. The robot uses REV rails and plexiglass for it's main body.

    Our first test is the 5-second distance test. Our robot had a lot of torque due to the Neverrest 60 motors, so it moved slower than other robots, but was unaffected by the additional 30lbs weight.

    Our second test is the 3-second turn test. Again, some other robots could turn better faster than us. However, due to having no proper mechanism for restraining our weights, along with other mysterious problems such as battery disconnections that only happened during this test, we were unable to try this test with load, however we presume that due to the torque, the results should be similar to those without load. Our center of rotation is also off due to only the front two wheels being powered. As such, the back of the robot makes a wide arc as it turns.

    Our next few test results are unremarkable.

    Our robot had a lot of sideways drift, mostly due to bad build quality. If we intend to use it during the season, we will try to fix this.

    Overall, our chassis performed well under load, but could use a little speed boost. If we want to further develop it, we plan to use Neverrest 20s with more torque on our external gear ratio, so we can get more speed out of it.

    Garchomp Presentation

    Garchomp Presentation By Janavi and Kenna

    Task: Present in the Inviational Presentation Series

    Today, we participated in the Chassis Presentation workshop for teams all around the North Texas region; the project was to design robots and perform various tests with them, then present findings. We presented our chassis, Garchomp, a mechanum wheel chassis as can be seen in the slide photos below.

    Presentation

    To create our chassis we used 4 never rest 40 motors one for each wheel and the structure of the chassis was created by using tetrix rails. We connected the wheels to the motors by using a 1:1 gear ratio. While there are many benefits to using a gear ratio for your wheels be forewarned that if your wheels are not perfectly aligned attaching your chains to mechanum wheels will become a living nightmare as can be seen in our previous posts.

    One of the reasons that attaching the chains was so difficult for us was because we discovered that because we had used wooden sides instead of the aluminum sides that Kraken used our wheels became misaligned to the two different types of wood used for the sides.

    While our robot is not able to do a 360 degree turn as fast as some other robots presented today it is able to hold a considerable amount of speed while moving at a constant speed.

    Since this chassis was designed for last years competition it is able to consistently drive onto the balancing stone

    North Texas Invitational Presentation Series - Worlds

    North Texas Invitational Presentation Series - Worlds By Ethan, Abhi, Janavi, Kenna, Charlotte, Evan, Karina, and Justin

    Task: Present about Worlds to new teams

    This was our last presentation in a series of presentations in conjunction with teams from around Texas for new and returning teams in the North Texas region. This particular presentation was about strategies in awards and the game, as well as general thoughts about FTC and Worlds.

    Presentation

    2018 Kickoff

    2018 Kickoff By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Charlotte, Abhi, Justin, Karina, and Arjun

    Task: Attend the North Texas FTC Kickoff

    Today, we went to the Rover Ruckus kickoff! This year's main challenge is getting blocks (gold) and balls (silver) into the main lander. The other side challenges, in order of hardness, are hanging, parking, and placing the team marker. The main upside of all of this means that it is theoretically possible to perform every single function on the field with the same mechanism.

    The main non-robot game changes are the elimination of Supers, the standardization of awards, and Worlds spot changes. The one that particularly piqued our interest was the award standardization. Historically, there have been huge disparities between the awards in North Texas and the awards at Worlds. For example, in North Texas, we continually won the Connect Award for our outreach (while in the rubric, it was the award for connecting with engineers). But, at Worlds, we won the Motivate Award instead.

    Next Steps

    We will do a brainstorming session to figure out are design paths for the next few weeks. In addition, we need to complete sorting of the new members.

    Iron Reign Grants!

    Iron Reign Grants! By Ethan

    Task: Detail the grant awards that Iron Reign and its associated teams received ($11k)

    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 received $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 received $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.

    Recruitment Update

    Recruitment Update By Ethan

    Task: Plan for 30+ influx of team members

    So, as we've stated in prior posts, this year has been a successful year for recruitment. We have had 30 total signups, up from -5 last year. This wave of new recruits means that the Iron Reign family must grow. So, in addition to Iron Reign and Imperial Robotics, we are introducing TWO new teams to North Texas and the Iron Reign family.

    To accommodate this influx, we are changing the organizational structure of SEM Robotics a tad. Iron Reign will remain the varsity team, and as such, will be responsible for tutoring and assisting the other teams, as well as other organizational decisions. Then, Imperial will now be the JV team, and be the intermediate training ground. You can see their efforts over at https://imperialrobotics.github.io/. Finally, we have the two new additions: Iron Star Robotics and Iron Core. Iron Star Robotics is a self-formed, co-op team of motivated freshmen; the other is a more lax training team.

    We'll deliver tutoring updates and joint outreach events on this blog, as well as our usual content. Everything claimed in this engineering notebook will be Iron Reign (6832) only, and we will hold the same standard of separation to the other teams.

    Next Steps

    We will tutor the new teams and identify the promising recruits. For ongoing tournaments and eliminations, we will recompose new teams of the most promising members.

    SEM STEM Spark Preparation

    SEM STEM Spark Preparation By Charlotte, Ethan, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, and Justin

    Task: Prepare for and set up SEM STEM Spark

    The National Honor Society at our home school, the Science and Engineering Magnet, has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming SEM STEM Spark event for middle school girls in North Dallas that they have been planning for since last May. A few of our very own members are members and leadership in NHS and have been working to include our robotics outreach as a featured activity as well as working with other activities we are passionate about, such as chemistry and environmental science.

    In the past few weeks, we have confirmed a spot for our outreach in the event and have been trying to recruit middle schools girls to attend the event. A few members even visited the middle schools they attended and spoke to their old science teachers to share information about the event and hand out fliers. Due to some complications, we weren't able to get registration for the event up until a week before, so recruitment has been a struggle and is very time sensitive. Our numbers are increasing quickly though, so we have hope that the event is going to be a success.

    The event is tomorrow, and today we spent a few hours setting up. On our day off, we went to our school and organized all of the materials we collected as donations along with those we bought with our own funds. We ran through each activity to ensure that they would fit in the allotted time frames. Everything seems to be running smoothly and we are ready for the event tomorrow. Fingers crossed! :)

    Next Steps

    We are very excited to run this event and have learned a lot from the work we have put into organizing it.

    SEM STEM Spark

    SEM STEM Spark By Ethan, Charlotte, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, Justin, Bhanaviya, and Alisa

    Task: Volunteer at SEM STEM Spark, a girls-in-STEM event

    For the past year, members of Iron Reign have been planning this event and getting approval. For those not-in-the-know, this event is a women-only STEM event with a guest panel and four different stations: environmental science, chemistry, engineering, and robotics. Iron Reign members had a hand in planning and assisting with 3/4 of these, as well as general logistics. However, most of this is detailed in prior posts - this post is for the actual event.

    Today, we talked to 140 girls in groups of 12-18, allowing us to be able to focus more intensely in our sessions and get more done. We taught them the 3D-printing program and sumobots. Finally, we had a member present as a panel member as a woman in STEM.

    Next Steps

    This event was a great success, and we plan to do more like these in the future. At the moment, we have a date set in March for a second event with entirely new activities.

    Travis High School Night

    Travis High School Night By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Charlotte, and Karina

    Task: Present about Iron Reign to 120 prospective members

    Today, we went to the Travis H.S. Night to talk to prospective freshmen about our robotics team. The format of the night was this: four twenty-five minute periods, with twenty minutes about SEM and five minutes about robotics. To fit this time schedule, we condensed our usual recruitment presentation down to five minutes while also demoing our former Worlds robot, Kraken. We mainly talked about the main points of FTC: being well rounded, the emphasis on writing, business, and the like. Then, we answered questions from the audience for the rest of the time. Overall, we presented to about 120 parents and students.

    Next Steps

    We plan to hold more presentations and outreach events in the future. We've already stepped our recruitment game up, so events like these are crucial.

    MXP Expansion - $150,000 Grant

    MXP Expansion - $150,000 Grant By Ethan

    Task: Plan for major grant to fund replacement of MXP ($150k)

    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 received grants for laptops and technology aboard the vehicle. We spent that entire summer renovating 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 receiving $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 received. 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 sustainable on it's own merit.

    Full Circle

    Full Circle By Evan

    A reflection on my time at Iron Reign

    In 2012 I began competing in FTC. That year our team built a robot with a giant central arm on top of a six wheeled drivetrain that sported a ring bucket that the rings would slot into one or two at a time. The idea was that we would go bit by bit, slowly moving the rings onto the rack in the middle. This was a mediocre idea in theory, but an even worse one in practice. I think in that entire season, we only were able to score one ring, and it was when I was by myself on a practice field before a match. The whole season had led up until that moment. It was the year I learned how to wire things, how to solder wires, how to use a bandsaw, a table saw, a miter saw, and how to really think about the real world applications of what I was doing. When I scored that ring, I was so happy. I told the whole team because this is what we had been trying to do for three months without success. We never scored another ring that season, despite being in first or second place at our qualifier (which is really just a testament to how heavily you can be carried in FTC). Since then i’ve worked on, designed, and built numerous competition robots, making a smooth transition from FLL to FTC, and i’ve been there for basically every major moment in our team’s history, from the very first meeting at the Virani household to our trip to the World championship competition in Houston where we won the Motivate award. I felt the same walking up on that stage and accepting the motivate with my team as I did back in 2012 scoring that one ring. That feeling of success and pride in my work. That’s why I keep doing FTC.

    I say all of this because today I had to take apart the arm of the first robot I ever built, and I thought it was a little poetic how I was using the robot I helped build in the my first season of FTC as part of the robot in my last season of FTC. It was weird. I don’t know. It was one of those rare full circle moments that you only ever get a few of and half the time you don’t even recognize them when they’re happening and never really get to appreciate them. It really just made me think back on all my years of robotics.

    SEM Robotics Tournament

    SEM Robotics Tournament By Coach and Ethan

    Our deepest thanks to all volunteers!

    Iron Reign (team 6832), The School of Science and Engineering and the Dallas ISD STEM Department are happy to announce that we are hosting our second annual FIRST Tech Challenge qualifying tournament at our Townview campus on December 15th. Thirty North Texas robotics teams will compete for awards and approximately 5 or 6 advancements to the Regional Championship to be held in February.

    Calling All Volunteers

    This is the second time our school has hosted an official qualifying tournament and we will need your help to make it a first-rate experience. This is a full day event on Saturday, December 15. There are also options to help with setup Friday afternoon December 14. Please feel free to circulate this message to everyone in the SEM community who can contribute their time and expertise. And if you can suggest a business that might want to sponsor the event, we'll be happy to talk with them.

    Our deepest thanks to all volunteers!

    One group of volunteers that support the running of robot matches include referees, score keepers, inspectors, field managers. Some of these roles require training and certification and we will generally draw from mentors already involved in FTC. Other roles supporting match play do not require training and include field management, pit management and queue management.

    Another group of volunteers will support judging of teams for awards. Judges can be drawn from industry or academia and can have an engineering background or a general business backround in a technology industry. Judges assess the merits of teams' robots, their engineering process and journal, their strategic decisions, team dynamics and outreach. Judges will be led by a Judge Advisor, but will need to understand the awards criteria ahead of time.

    Another group of volunteers will support the event overall. This includes team registration, crowd control, DJ, videography and photography, A/V support, floaters, runners, concessions, load-in/load-out crew, etc.

    This is just a summary of the most common roles, but there are many specialty roles. Full volunteer info can be found here.

    For some roles it helps to understand the run-of-show for the day.

    How to sign up as a volunteer

    FIRST is the governing body of these competitions and they have a volunteer sign up system so that we can assure that all roles are filled by vetted volunteers. We are trying to get all volunteers processed through this system. It does involve creating a FIRST account if you have not previously done so. If you have any issues or are finding the process burdensome, please use our contact form for assistance.

    Please sign up for as many roles as you feel comfortable fulfilling. We may need to be flexible with assignments depending on who is available and which roles can be fulfilled by our regional managing partner. Students may volunteer for certain roles and as event hosts, Iron Reign team members will be supporting the event throughout the day.

    To begin, go to the volunteer signup page for our event: https://my.firstinspires.org/Volunteers/Wizard/Search/2?EventId=39812

    If you have not previously registered with FIRST, you'll need to sign up / register and activate your account first. Then you can go back to the link above and indicate your preferences. We truly need your help and look forward to working with you to create a great tournament for our students. We hope this event will showcase SEM as the premiere home for future scientists and engineers.

    All our Thanks,

    Karim Virani and Cathy Lux

    Tournament day is very involved for the teams and volunteers. Here is a typical schedule of the day:

    • 7:30-8:30 Teams arrive, register and load their robots and gear into the pit areas
    • 9:00 - 10:30 Teams present their robots to Judges for the awards competition. They also get their robots inspected and approved for the robot game
    • 10:30 Opening ceremonies and then qualifying matches of the robot game begin. Judges are observing teams in their pits and on the competition field
    • Noon - Lunch will be provided for the teams and volunteers. Judges share information with each other about the teams they interviewed.
    • Afternoon - qualifying matches continue until each team has competed 5 times. There are 4 robots per match and we'll have two alternating competition fields to speed things up.
    • Mid-to-late afternoon is Alliance Selection, top teams from qualifying rounds will build alliances to compete in the elimination / playoff rounds. Judges continue deliberating.
    • Playoff rounds usually take a bit over an hour
    • Closing Ceremonies and Awards
    • Pack up fields and equipment

    We plan to end the tournament by 5pm, but events can run long. All volunteers are encouraged to stay until the end of the tournament, but it's not required if your role is completed earlier in the day.

    Mentoring SchimRobots at Rice MS Tournament

    Mentoring SchimRobots at Rice MS Tournament By Bhanaviya

    Task: Mentor a middle school team at the RMS Qualifier

    Earlier today, I attended the Rice Middle School Qualifier in order to mentor my middle school team, SchimRobots, as an alumnus. Last year, when I was a member of SchimRobots, we had qualified to regionals by attaining 3rd Place Inspire Award in a qualifier. Since the Inspire Award had a heavy focus on a team’s engineering notebook, I decided to help out by looking through their journal. The way 12900 operates is through units; there is a unit specifically dedicated to the engineering notebook, and the members in that unit are the ones who work on the notebook. However, as I’ve learned thus far, because different members are equipped with different skill sets, it is more effective for each member to record their personal experiences within the team, rather than for a smaller group to carry the entire load.

    SchimRobots Team Overview

    That was the first takeaway that I decided to pass on. The second was that all ideas, regardless of potential, must be recorded. The purpose of the journal is to document all ideas, despite their success rate. This documentation showcases how iterative a team’s thinking can be when attempting to solve a problem. Because an iterative process helps portray a team’s “journey” in overcoming a challenge, dedicating a portion of an entry to any idea a team considered implementing is an effective strategy in making one’s journal as thorough as possible.

    At the end of the day, we discussed the possibility of another meet-up, this one with more experienced members of Iron Reign to mentor the middle-school team, prior to their second qualifier.

    Next Steps

    The next step is to consider, with the rest of Iron Reign, the feasibility of organizing another mentoring session, taking into account where and how much help SchimRobots needs, and where and how much Iron Reign can offer.

    C.A.R.T. Bot Side Shields

    C.A.R.T. Bot Side Shields By Ethan

    Task: Design sideshields for the Townview Tournament

    Iron Reign takes pride in the Townview Tournament; we really enjoy making it a great experience for everyone. One small way we plan to improve the tournament is to turn our MXP into a robot repair shop for broken robots. In addition to this, we're turning CART Bot into an ambulance to carry broken bots that need repair. To do so, we're wiring a flashing light to the cart, as well as printing giant sideshields on either side. The shields are above.

    Townview Qualifier 2018 - Setting Up

    Townview Qualifier 2018 - Setting Up By Bhanaviya, Karina, Kenna, Ethan, Evan, Charlotte, Justin, Janavi, Austin, and Jayesh
    Task: Prepare Townview for SEM's qualifier on December 15th

    On December 15th, Iron Reign is hosting an FTC qualifier at Townview Magnet Center with around 30 teams competing. For the past 2 weeks, robotics alums, current members of Iron Reign, Iron Star, Iron Core and Imperial Robotics have been signing up to be volunteers for the very event. By Friday, the day before the qualifier, all our positions were confirmed for the tournament. In addition to getting assigned for the qualifier, we also helped with field set-up. Two fields were set up on each side of the cafeteria, to accommodate for the influx of teams competing. A field was set up behind the cafeteria to act as a practice field for queuing teams. Speaking of queuing teams, 8 tables were set up behind each field for teams to queue in. A monitor was brought in from Mr Boykin's room to display the teams' scores over the course of the match. We helped ensure that enough chairs were set up for the audience members, and that each team had a table of its own to operate their last-minute-panicked-robot-surgery on. In order to delineate the difference between teams competing on the two different fields, we put red and blue tapes on each table, after putting up a plaque card representing the competing teams' numbers.

    After ensuring that the actual competition area was set-up, we worked on setting up the judging rooms for judging presentations. We cleared out chairs in 5 rooms on the first floor, and set up two tables at the end of each room for the judges. Each room was marked with a piece of paper to represent the judging room number.

    Once we were finished setting up, we left to the Virani house, to set up the MXP. The purpose of the MXP being present at the qualifier was to provide the competing teams an area to work with Iron Reign on their robots, in the event they needed assistance. After ensuring that the vehicle was in driveable state, we worked on setting up laptops in the MXP. Then, we stocked it with tools that competing teams could use when needed. Next Steps Be prepared to carry out our respective roles as volunteers the next day, and lead competing teams through judging, queuing, and matches.

    Helping PiGuardians with Code

    Helping PiGuardians with Code By Arjun

    Task: Help teams at the Townview Tournament

    On Saturday, December 15, Iron Reign hosted 30 teams at the Townview Qualifier tournament. As a part of hosting the tournament, we wanted to ensure that all teams were able to compete at the best of their ability. As such, we made sure that we helped teams who needed our assistance.

    One such team was PiGuardians, team 14787. They had no code (except for the example teleop), and their programmer was unable to make the tournament due to a conflict. Without our help, they would not have been able to do anything more than be a pushbot. Iron Reign wanted to make sure that they were not excluded, so we assigned a programmer to help them out.

    We helped them write a teleop program so that they could participate in matches. We also helped them write an autonomous, using the replay program we designed over the summer to make developing an autonomous easier. With our help, they went from being a pushbot to having a full-blown autonomous.

    PiGuardians was extremely grateful for our help to them. They promised to reach out to us if they ever needed any help in the future.

    Townview Qualifier 2018 - The Day Of

    Townview Qualifier 2018 - The Day Of By Ethan, Janavi, Evan, Abhi, Charlotte, Karina, Kenna, Arjun, and Jayesh

    Task: Run the Townview Tournament

    On Saturday, December 15, Iron Reign hosted 30 teams at the Townview Magnet Center, our home school's campus. This entry serves more as a description as to how we got to the point of hosting the qualifier and what to consider when hosting one.

    First, for a tournament, you need a lot of volunteers of varied ages. Frankly, you need a good amount of younger kids for jobs such as queuing and judge assistance - this makes the tournament run much more smoothly. We had about 10 queuers throughout the day, and while this may seem excessive, we started out the day with a +10 minute surplus and kept every single match on schedule.

    There still needs to be adult volunteers. We had 2 judges per room with five rooms, as well as 6 referees. All of these must be adults. And, we had to recruit from a diverse set of groups to cover our bases - we recruited people from the Dallas Chamber of Commerce meeting, the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, prior FTC tournaments, alumni, teachers from our school, and even our own families. It's hard to get enough judges for a large tournament, so this process had to start early.

    The second item that we'd like to emphasize is the need to make everything accessible by teams. Being an FTC team ourselves, we wanted to make this tournament easier for others. So, we kept a spreadsheet with inspection results on a screen in the pits so that teams could be updated, made pit maps so teams could find one another, and built a practice field a decent distance away from the others for practice. In this, we hoped to take some stress off of teams.

    On the same topic of helping teams, we had volunteers assigned to help fix robots and to assist with code, as well as putting the Mobile Learning Lab in workshop mode for teams who needed it. Iron Reign has been stuck in bad situations countless times, and we wanted to return the favor to those who helped us.

    Finally, we'd like to thank all of our volunteers for being there. It was a hard, long day, but it was worth it, and we'd just like to extend our gratitude. We'd like to thank DISD STEM for providing food for volunteers and Townview Magnet Center for letting us host the qualifier here. Finally, we'd like to give a huge shout-out to our coach, Karim Virani, for doing the logistics of this tournament.

    Next Steps

    We're going to write up a few other posts about interacting with judges, supporting teams, and a postmortem on the tournament. We've got a lot to do over the break, and this was just the kickoff for it.

    Wylie East Qualifier 2019

    Wylie East Qualifier 2019 By Ethan, Charlotte, Janavi, Evan, Abhi, Arjun, Karina, and Justin

    Task: Compete at Wylie East

    Wylie East was Iron Reign's second qualifier of the year. Having qualified at the first one, we planned to use the tournament as an opportunity to practice the presentation and driver practice, as well as check up on other teams' progress. We didn't have a working robot going in - we had found that our latch was one-time-use only the night before, we had recently swapped intakes due to weight, and our autonomous was non-existent.

    Judging

    Unlike last tournament, we had actually done presentation practice, cleaned out the judging box, and revamped the presentation. We were missing a member, but we had already reassigned their slides well in advance so that people would practice them.

    And, our practice paid off. We had pretty seamless transitions, we had a good energy that the judges enjoyed, and our robot demo went really well. We got our content across, and even better, we finished way under 15 minutes so that the judges could ask us questions (even though they didn't have many to ask).

    Later, we had one group of judges come up to greet us. They mainly asked about our robot and its various functions and design choices. Our robot wasn't there, so we had to rely on old prototypes.

    Inspection

    Our robot passed field and robot inspection with flying colors and no reprimands, probably the first time that this has ever happened for Iron Reign.

    Robot Game

    Like above, we really didn't have a perfectly working robot. But, we performed much better than past tournaments due to improvements.

    Match 1

    For the first time in Iron Reign history, we tied, 211-211. Our autonomous sampled and we parked, and we were able to latch in the endgame, so it was a pretty good match all around.

    Match 2

    We lost the next match, 134-85. Our partner's robot shut down, so we couldn't keep up with the opponent. Our auto worked though, as well as latching.

    Match 3

    We lost this match, 102-237. This time, our autonomous didn't work, as our team marker fell off and knocked us off our path.

    Match 4

    We lost, 123-139. Again, our autonomous workde fine, everything else just failed.

    Match 5

    We lost, 122-154. Everything was going smoothly, but our alliance was blown out of the water during particle scoring.

    After Judging and Awards

    We weren't picked for an alliance, so we had to wait for awards. And, we ended with three awards: 1st Connect, 2nd Innovate, and 2nd Motivate. We were ineligible for Inspire due to our prior performance, but we don't believe we would have won it - the head judge stated that this was the closest tournament to regionals that we would get, so there was plenty of tough competition.

    After the awards ceremony, we came up to the fields to help clean and talk to referees. There, we were told something that we enjoyed; one of the refs told us that Iron Reign was one of the nicest and most graciously professional teams they had dealt with this season. We really liked to hear that, and it meant a lot. Also, we were told by another observer that we needed to make what our robot did more clear in the presentation, a point that we'll expand upon in the post-mortem.

    Next Steps

    See post-mortem.

    Tokens!

    Tokens! By Ethan

    Task: Design tokens to hand out at the North Texas Regional

    We recently taught ourselves how to use the laser-cutter. Now that we've gone mad with power, we've decided to make little handouts for other teams. We plan to cut these on wood, with vector cutting around the edges and raster engraving for the logo and text.

    Next Steps

    We're really excited to go to regionals and good luck to whichever team is reading this!

    Three SEM Robotics Teams have now advanced to the FTC North Texas Regional Championship!

    Three SEM Robotics Teams have now advanced to the FTC North Texas Regional Championship! By Ethan

    This Saturday our two all-freshmen rookie FTC Robotics teams took it up a notch at their last qualifier tournament of the season. Iron Core was 5th place of 30 in robot performance and made it into the playoff rounds, but were then eliminated by the highest scoring team in our region. Iron Star also made it into the playoffs and then advanced upon receiving 2nd place Inspire Award along with the Control Award.

    Iron Core: Mahesh Natamai, Ben Bruick, Jose Lomeli, Samuel Adler, Ephraim Sun (not present)

    Iron Star: Katelyn Cumplido, Harish Jai Ganesh, Benjamin Oommen, Shawn Halimman, Aaron Daane, Evan Branson, Paul Lea, Beau Aveton, Cooper Clem (not present)

    Iron Star joins our veteran teams Imperial Robotics who advanced on Jan 19th and Iron Reign who advanced in November and double-qualified on Jan 19th. Please congratulate our team members - we are the only school in the region with 3 advancing teams and it's unusual for a rookie team to advance. The Regional Championship will be held February 23rd at Wylie East High School. Five or six teams will advance from there to represent our region at the FTC World Championship in April.

    This coming Saturday, February 2nd, is the Dallas ISD STEM Expo. Our teams will be there representing SEM and teaching younger students how to program simple sumo robots and how to use 3D printers. Come see us at the Dallas City of Learning exhibit where our teams will also be demonstrating their advancing robots and staffing the Mobile STEM lab that Iron Reign built. Tickets are free but you need to register: here.

    STEM Expo Preparation

    STEM Expo Preparation By Bhanaviya and Benb

    Task: Plan for the DISD STEM Expo

    Tomorrow, Iron Reign along with members from the other 3 teams, is participating in the DISD STEM Expo for our third year. As we have done for the past 2 years, we are bringing the Mobile Learning Experience Lab to the event area in Kay Bailey Hutchinson Center. The purpose of this event is to connect with children in the DISD Area by helping them a foster an appreciation for engineering and the sciences. With the support of the Dallas City of Learning, a non-profit organization operated by Big Thought which helps schedule The Mobile Learning Experience, Iron Reign will have a featured exhibit within the MXP. To maximize event productivity, we will be working alongside volunteers from Microsoft and Best Buy who will help us ensure that the exhibit runs smoothly.

    As part of the exhibit, we will have events similar to those hosted as part of STEM Spark! This includes the LEGO Mindstorm Sumo Robots Event as well as our 3D Printing Keychains activity.

    At the end of the day, modeling and coding are two of the many aspects encompassed in STEM, and more importantly, FIRST. In introducing these activities, we hope to promote a student initiative in FIRST Robotics. And who knows - tomorrow, we might just meet the future members of Iron Reign.

    DISD STEM Expo

    DISD STEM Expo By Bhanaviya, Ethan, Charlotte, Janavi, Evan, Abhi, Arjun, Kenna, Justin, Karina, Ben B, and Jose

    Task: Present at the DISD STEM Expo

    DISD STEM Expo has been our busiest event this year. Overall, we met with over 1000 participants for both the 3D Printing event and the Sumo-Robots station. Despite the fact that this was a first-time event for many of the members helping out, STEM Expo ran smoothly. The purpose of this event is to spread STEM programs to students in the Dallas area who otherwise would have no access.

    We started out by setting up the MXP and the EV3 robots. After ensuring that the MXP was stocked up with laptops and 3D printers, we set up sumo mats, laptops and LEGO Mindstorm Robots in tables outside the vehicle. All the freshmen were given a quick crash-course on how to run the Sumo-Robots session, while the seniors ensured that all of the FTC robots were demo-ready.

    Since the participants were of varying ages, one of our biggest challenges was trying to convey the message of actually coding the robot across a variety of audiences. We learned earlier on that the best way to teach younger audiences how to code the robots was by letting them test out each block of code, so that they could get a sense of what they were trying to accomplish.

    We also had a few connect opportunities. Best Buy (Geek Squad) representatives boarded the RV to ask about our program. Our MXP is funded by Best Buy - we received a $10k grant from them earlier this season - and this was a great opportunity to talk to them again. We spoke about the history of the MXP program, what it currently does, and our plans to create a new MXP with the $150k in funding that BigThought received as well as our need for an additional $100k. Also present at the STEM Expo were several Microsoft employees. We've worked at Microsoft events before, most notably YouthSpark, and they've contributed to the MXP program, so we talked to them again over the same topics, trying to garner up support for the new MXP.

    Next Steps

    Our booth could not have operated as smooth as it did without BigThought, for helping us staff and maintain the MXP, and DISD for giving us the opportunity to introduce FIRST to such a large audience. As hectic as it was trying to teach block programming and 3D modeling to students with little to no technical experience, the event ran much more systematically than we could have expected. It was energizing to see children excitedly “battle” their robots, and to see them walk away, waving a 3D-printed keychain. We are incredibly thankful for having been able to interact with the next generation of engineers, and giving them a platform to see robotics as a comprehensible concept.

    Drive Testing at STEM Expo

    Drive Testing at STEM Expo By Ben and Abhi

    Task: Test robot performance at the STEM Expo to inspire younger kids and practice

    An FLL team gathered around Iron Reign’s robot

    We had the privilege of being a vendor and representing SEM at DISD's STEM Expo this weekend. Thousands of people cycled throughout our area during the day, so we had the opportunity to show off our robot to many people. Some of these people include FLL and VEX IQ teams, along with Best Buy volunteers. Our goal was to get kids excited about STEM and robotics, along with getting some robot practice in. We will be trying out the new latch, new presets, and prospective drivers.

    As soon as we started driving, we noticed a few issues. One of these being the belt drive repeatedly slipping. This may be a result of the belt loosening, the drive gear accelerating too quickly, heavy intake arm, or the preset causes the drive gear to keep operating, even when the arm is fully extended. We also struggled with keeping the intake box out of the way and prevent it from twisting around the “corn on the cob” intake. We will solve this by fastening the rubber band that was supposed to keep it in place. This; however, wasn’t our only intake problem. Once 2 minerals had been grabbed, they would usually fall out the intake box after lifting the arm. The intake box would turn vertical, making it easier for the minerals to shift out. This was especially an issue when trying to deposit the minerals, we would make several sudden movements, causing the arm to swing and minerals to fall out. A possible solution to this is adding a barrier between the floor of the intake box and the top of the box. This would allow for more freedom, as we could move faster without worry of losing minerals.

    Demonstrating intake arm for FLL kids

    Next Steps

    It will take a lot more practice to master latching and collecting, and even general driving. We will need to code better presets and either design a better collection box, or fix the existing one. Drivers will also have to be selected, which we will do by running several trials for each member and determining who is best at latching, scoring, and control.

    Woodrow Wilson Scrimmage

    Woodrow Wilson Scrimmage By Bhanaviya, Charlotte, Janavi, Kenna, Karina, Evan, Abhi, Jose, Ben B, and Arjun

    Task: Compete at the Woodrow Wilson Scrimmage with Woodrow teams

    This past Saturday, Iron Reign competed in the Woodrow Wilson Scrimmage. To ensure that the wiring did not become tangled when the robot moved around, we added an ABS cable-carrier to the arm of the robot.

    Overall, Iron Reign was able to establish a semi-stable deposit scoring game-plan in the match. Since we haven’t focused on practicing game play in a while, this scrimmage gave us an opportunity to pin-point build and code issues, as well as get a clearer idea of what our strategy for regionals needed to look like.

    Next Steps

    We are incredibly thankful for Woodrow Wilson and their teams for hosting us, as well running such an effective scrimmage. The opportunity to connect with other teams in our region has given a clearer idea of what we can learn from the teams around us to improve our overall team presence.

    Wylie Regionals 2019

    Wylie Regionals 2019 By Ethan, Charlotte, Evan, Kenna, Karina, Abhi, Arjun, Bhanaviya, Ben, Justin, Jose, and Janavi

    Task: Compete at the North Texas Regional Tournament

    Preparation

    Unlike other tournaments, we started packing before morning. We packed as if we were going out of state, bringing a bandsaw, all-new charging box, every replacement part imaginable, and a printer which would ultimately come in handy later. We relied on a packing list created by Janavi, detailed below.

    Because of this, we got to Wylie on time, turned in our notebooks, had the team rosters printed out, and were able to start right away.

    Inspection

    Breaking our all-season streak, we failed our first inspection, cited for our unruly cable management. So, we made a hasty retreat back to the pits and zip-tied the cables together and rethreaded our intake servo wires through the cable guards, then brought it back to inspection. We passed, but we were warned about possible size issues with the team marker. But, looking at RG02, we realized that it wasn't a major concern.

    Judging

    The main issue this time was not speed or knowledge but simple enthusiasm - it just felt off and a little uncharismatic. However, we received three separate pit visits for what we believer were Motivate, Connect, and Innovate. In particular, we were able to get the Motivate judges out to see the MXP and talk about expanding the program while keeping it sustainable. The Innovate judges focused on the Superman mechanism, as it's fairly unique, and we fielded questions about the design process. In Connect, we also talked about the MXP and its $150k grant largely because of our efforts.

    Robot Game

    Match 1(Q3)
    For the first time in the Rover Ruckus season, we won a game. Both us and Corem Deo had almost perfect auto and Corem Deo got plenty of mineral cycles into the lander. Unfortunately, BigWheel tipped over during end game so we couldn't latch. However it did not affect the match results significantly.

    Match 2(Q9)
    Unfortunately, we lost. Both our autos failed in some way and BigWheel ended autonomous with one wheel in the crater, wasting us 30 seconds during teleop just to get out. Also, most of our mineral cycles failed and we couldn't latch during end game and had to partially park in the crater.

    Match 3(Q15)
    To our surprise, we won. We were against Elmer and Elsie, who were seeded 1st before this match. We had a perfect auto this match while the other side had some issues with their's. During teleop we had some pretty successful mineral cycles and both robots hung onto the lander with the other side only having one hang and one robot partially parked.

    Match 4(Q26)
    We didn't expect to pull a third win but we did. Our auto also failed a little again but it didn't cost us any time during teleop like last time. We also had some very successful mineral cycles this time, but when attempting to hang BigWheel tipped when going into its preset position for hanging, even so, it didn't affect match results.

    Match 5(Q33)
    Once again we didn't expect a fourth win, but it happened. Before this match we wanted to test our autonomous with the Lamar Vikings to check if the robots would collide during autonomous, but due to mechanical issues on their side this was delayed and we had to queue without doing so. Indeed, our robots collided in the depot causing us to miss out on 75 points. During teleop one robot on the other side disconnected but on our side two of our servos disconnected, the mineral gate and the hook, so we couldn't score minerals or latch so we played some minor defense and partially parked in the crater.

    Match 6(Q36)
    Our luck ran out in this match as we lost. This was a very tight match against TechicBots, the first seed. Both sides ended autonomous 150-150. The mineral game was also tight, the lead switched between both sides many times as minerals were scored but the other side took the lead once BigWheel tipped over. We couldn't hang once again and both our opponents kept scoring, leading to our loss.

    For the first time this season, we were selected for Semis as the first pick of the third alliance.

    Match 1
    We lost. Our autonomous failed as well as teleop while the other side continuously scored minerals into the lander. And yet again we couldn't hang due to tipping.

    Match 2
    We lost again. We began a timeout due to technical issues with the phones and ultimately had to give up and leave BigWheel to sit idle on the field for two minutes and thirty seconds while the Lamar Vikings attempted to win without us.

    Awards Ceremony

    By the time the ceremony started, most of us had been up for 13+ hours, so we were all a little under the weather. We first received the Motivate award! It's always nice to have your efforts recognized and this was no exception. The Motivate award means a lot to us - it's what we got last year at Worlds. Then, we heard, "3rd place Inspire Award goes to...team 6832 Iron Reign!" And the SEM section went wild. We advanced!

    Next Steps

    The post-mortem will be in a later post. See y'all at Worlds!

    DPRG Visit 2.0

    DPRG Visit 2.0 By Abhi, Karina, Arjun, and BenO

    Task: Present to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group about FTC app and our modifications

    Today we had 2 goals: present the FTC control system and allow everyone in the room to create their own FTC app to deploy to our robot. In the beginning of our presentation, we had a slideshow to show the overview of FTC as well as our progress this season since they last saw us. After this, I went through the process of creating a working opmode for our robot, Iron Reign style. The presentation is given below.

    Project Management Mentorship

    Project Management Mentorship By Charlotte

    Task: Ensure skills are passed to underclassmen

    Since our project manager is leaving for college next year, there has been an effort to teach the younger students on our team to take on this role and its many responsibilities. These responsibilities include updating the Gantt chart, writing meeting logs, gathering information for meeting logs when you are not able to make it to meetings, leading and helping writing post mortem and roads to, ensuring general organization for the whole team in terms of Discord and other communication methods, writing articles about the ever-changing responsibilities of this role, managing competition day roles and management, leading and recording planning sessions, being part of leadership in the blog sub team, ensuring communication between the various subteams in Iron Reign, encouraging and understanding detailed explanations of each part of the robot, blog, code, and presentation, among much more.

    This is a lot for one person to take on, emphasizing the importance of gentle and detailed mentorship so that next year our new project manager has all the tools and much needed coaching they need to succeed and not get lost in what the role entails so that they can make the team a more organized unit.

    We have taken on many freshmen interested in assuming these responsibilities, notably Bhanaviya and Cooper. This mentorship begins with the meeting logs, which often take multiple hours to construct due to the fact that they must understand not only what each member of the team is working on, but also how that plays in the overall progression of the team. One big example is in conveying the progress of the coding team. This has been a challenge for me this year due to my lack of experience in dealing with robot code. Taking the time to have a longer discussion the the coders and demanding explicit details about the code changes and how these changes affect the overall progression of the code is what helped me with this challenge. This demand for detail is what is most important in the mentorship process, as it takes a certain confidence and assertion to do so.

    Aside from these soft skills, there are some hard skills to be had too. First of all, we mentored all the underclassmen on how to use HTML to write and post a blog post as well as an introduction to what their language should sound like in these blog posts. Rather than conversational, each post should be written in a professional, technical, or formal manner, depending on the subject matter of the post. Meeting logs have their own template and formatting, which have been taught to future project managers so that they can practice these skills. Bhanaviya has already written a promising number of meeting logs with impressive detail.

    As the season comes to an end, there a few things remaining to teach, especially planning sessions and the Gantt chart. The Gantt chart especially requires a lot of hands-on mentorship, as though the software is intuitive it is difficult to be in the mindset for that type of higher level organization if you haven't ever before and haven't been walked through it. Alongside this mentorship, I will have the freshmen lead planning sessions with me as an advocate alongside them, so if the conversation gets off topic I can supply them the confidence needed to call the meeting back to focus. Mentorship is a long process, but is essential in such an abstract role in the team and I will continue to be there as a voice of support throughout the whole process.

    MXP Expansion

    MXP Expansion By Ethan

    Task: Plan the next stage of the MXP

    In post B-7, we announced that BigThought received $150k on our behalf for the creation of a new MXP. Now, we've created a tentative floorplan for the new RV. The new RV will have these programs\features:

    • Voice recording booth
    • Green-screen - recording video
    • 3D printers - keychains
    • Laptops - 3D printing, EV3 coding
    • EV3s - sumo bots

    As well, the new RV will have two new slideouts, allowing for 20+ children to board safely. As well, the RV will be extended by 5', allowing for more space and a dedicated area to hold equipment.

    Next Steps

    Next, we need to create a full 3D model of the new MXP to send back to BigThought.

    Assisting Mechanicats with Code

    Assisting Mechanicats with Code By Arjun

    Task: Help Mechanicats, the other DISD team, debug their code

    Competition is always stressful for everyone. There's so much that can go wrong, and when something does, it feels like all your hard work has gone to waste. We know first hand how it feels when something breaks. That's why we volunteered to help out Mechanicats when there was an announcement over the intercom that a team needed help with vision.

    Mechanicats were having some trouble with their vision code. They told us they were able to sample correctly when they were on depot-side, but when they were on crater-side, they were unable to correctly identify the position of the gold mineral. We talked to them and helped them debug their code, and after a bit of testing, we were able to identify the problem for them.

    The issue was that the TensorFlow detector they were using was returning null when it had already been called before because it expected client code to cache the objects it returned. This meant that when there were lots of minerals in the background, the detector would reuse the same objects to be more efficient. Mechanicats did not realize this, and thus since they were not caching the response of the detector, when they were on crater side they were unable to detect minerals.

    After we fixed this issue for them with a few simple lines of code, we helped them exhaustively test it to ensure that it worked correctly. Mechanicats was extremely grateful for our help.