Articles by tag: outreach

Articles by tag: outreach

    Contacting Mark Cuban

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

    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 didnt 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.

    On top of that, our region has been rumoured to become either a open or semi-open region next year. If so, we'll be facing the ultra-competitive teams from Austin like ViperBots, teams from Arkansas like TechHogs and DivaForce, and any other smaller regions. We've gone against all of these teams before in their respective regionals, and honestly, they generally perform much better than us. So, if this comes true, our chances of advancing to worlds decrease significantly.

    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 a local, yet-to-be-named billionaire. 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, ect.

    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. Being on the second floor. we couldn't really bring our RV without significant structural damage. So, we brought our sumo-bot equipment to the library, as well as a few of our new and old bots, such as cartbot, bigwheel, and Kraken. We're eventually going to do a writeup on these bots, but a brief summary of each are:

    • cartbot - We took our old rolling cart and attached motors to it so that it can be driven around. We also attached an air cannon that can shoot cans at kids to enertain them (and us).
    • bigwheel - An attachment that can be dragged around by other robots and hold items.
    • Kraken - Our 2017-18 competition 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 enertained 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 involvment and 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.

    Technicbots Chassis Project - July Meeting

    Technicbots Chassis Project - July Meeting By Kenna, Ethan, Charlotte, Karina, Shaggy, and Abhi

    Task: Compare & Collaborate on Chassis

    At Big Thought's offices in downtown Dallas, three teams met. Technicbots (Team 8565), EFFoRT (Team 8114), Schim Robotics (12900), and Iron Reign are all part of Technicbots' Chassis Project. The goal is for each team to create any number of chassis and improve their building skills by learning from the other teams.

    The meeting began with an overview of all teams' progress. Each team presented their thought process and execution when creating each bot and discussed why/how everything was done. At the end, we all reviewed the rule changes for the 2018-19 season. Once all questions had been asked and answered, testing began.

    Austin Lui of Technicbots gets their chassis ready for testing.

    Using leftover tiles from last season, we set up a small field in Big Thought's blue room. Technicbots provided a ramp to do enhanced testing with. All teams plan on testing:

    • Forward speed
    • 3 second turn
    • Up/Down ramp
    • Balancing stone
    • Weight-pulling
    • Straight line drift
    • 90/180° turn offset

    Connor Mihelic of EFFoRT adds some finishing touches.

    We know from Google Analytics that our website has about 200 visitors a month but we rarely meet the people who read and use our blog posts. Today, we got to meet the mentors of Team 12900 from a middle school in Plano, TX. When they and their students were starting out as a team, they utilized our tutorials and journal. Apparently their teams members are avid followers of our team, which was very meaningful to hear. Some non-FTC friends visited as well and were introduced to cartbot.


    Terri and Grant Richards of Schim Robotics.

    Next Steps

    Using what we learned from the other teams, we will begin to improve all of our chassis. Most of them are at varying levels of completion so now we want to concentrate on getting all of them to the same level of functionality. Garchomp is, notably, the most behind so he will be getting the most attention from here on out.

    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 involvment and 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.

    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. In the front, we ran sumobits, and in the back, we did 3-D design. The focus on this event was a bit different - it was a back to school event, so the main focus was on getting the children ready for school, while we assisted with educational activities if the parents had spare time. So, while there were about 1.5k people at the event, we talked to a fraction of them. However, every child we talked to really enjoyed the MXP and our activities. In the end, we probably talked to about 130 kids.

    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.

    Mentor Involvement from MIT

    Mentor Involvement from MIT By Abhi

    Task: Discuss potential support from MIT

    In a previous post, I mentioned how the knowledge I gained in machine learning at MIT could help the team. But another way our team could be helped is with mentor involvement from MIT. I couldn't have done the research I did at MIT without the help of my amazing instructors. I wanted to bring them on board the Iron Reign way so they could also teach the rest of the team how to be awesome and help us grow. Currently, Iron Reign is speaking with two of my instructors.

    Lyle Lalunio (leftmost in image) is a freshman at the University of California at Berkley. He was an intern this past summer at MIT as part of the Laboratory of Computational Physiology and also the Medlytics program. He is proficient in numerous programming languages including Java and Python. He is pursuing computer science in college but is also interested in the medical applications of the science. Lyle has been an incredible mentor for myself and my teams during my month, inspiring me to invite him to the team.

    Dr. Danelle Shah (2nd from left in image) is a Technical Staff member in Lincoln Laboratory’s Intelligence and Decision Technologies group. Her most recent research has focused on the detection, representation and characterization of human networks by leveraging natural language processing and graph analytics. Dr. Shah earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, where she developed algorithms to facilitate natural and robust human-robot interaction. Dr. Shah has also left a great impact on my life and has a background in robotic algorithms, inspiring me to invite her to the team.

    Next Steps

    Continue discussion with mentors about potentially joining Iron Reign.

    Recruitment Update

    Recruitment Update By Ethan

    Task: Analyze recruitment efforts

    So, as we've stated in prior posts, this year has historically been the most effective year for recruitment, ever. We have had 30! total signups, up from -5 last year. This tsunami of new recruits means that much like a mature skin cell, Iron Reign must undergo mitosis and 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 accomedate 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 a yet-to-be-named team. Iron Star Robotics is a self-formed, co-op team of motivated freshmen; the other is yet to be named and will be 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.

    Travis High School Night

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

    Task: Present about SEM and the Iron Reign Robotics program

    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

    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

    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.