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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Awake the Lakes and Ribfest

Team 3313 has expanded our outreach efforts every single year that Mr. Bydlon has been head coach (past 3 years). It's crazy but just 2 years ago (2011), we only had 5 outreach events ALL YEAR. So far in 2013, we have had 31 (holy crap). So when one of our sponsors, Massman Automation Designs, asked us to have our robot at their Memorial Day Weekend event, Awake the Lakes, we had to say yes.

Awake the Lakes is a "kick off summer" event where many cooks bring their grills and cook up delicious ribs. It's also referred to as Ribfest. There's a street right along one of the downtown Alexandria lakes, Lake Agnes. This street is taken over by big tents and other food vendors. Luckily, we got a spot of our own right by the rib tents.

We set up our Frisbee shooting robot from this year and let the people come to us. It's amazing and awesome how entertained little kids are by a robot. We must have had at least 60 kids shoot and/or catch discs. It was so much fun! The best part was that by the end of the evening, we didn't have to do anything. The kids knew how everything worked and did it all on their own.

Our favorite moment was that a child missed seeing our mascot and asked for Molly to put it back on. As soon as she did, the kid ran up to her legs and gave her a big hug. Melted our aluminum hearts.

Not only did we have a blast shooting off discs with kids, we also got to enjoy DELICIOUS ribs and talk with a ton of community members. It's fantastic to show off and all the work we do to our community.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Small Business Luncheon

Today, we attended a small business luncheon with the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) and the Packaging Machine Manufacturing Consortium (PMMC). We presented to a large number of local business leaders. After we gave our presentation, we gave a brief demonstration of our robot.

We had an amazing lunch and the PMMC will match the free-will donations we received. We are ever thankful to have such wonderful sponsors who fund us and provide us with new opportunities in our community. Also, the community that we work and live in is fantastic. We look forward to attending the next small business luncheon for the third year in a row.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Community Night

Today, we had our annual community night. It wasn't anything too spectacular, but many people dropped by to see our robot and had the chance to drive it and shoot frisbees. Although, the turnout was not as high as we hoped, we realized our mistakes and we are adjusting our advertising strategy.

Throughout the night, two of our alumni, Jenna Seward and Ryan Johnson, stopped by to visit us and see our progress from the past year. We also had the support of many family members of the robotics team. We are more than satisfied with the turnout from this year.

Our gymnasium has an overhead speaker system and we were able to play music and throw Frisbees and in general goof off in between visitors. Everyone on the team had an amazing time at Community Night, and we look forward to our next community event.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Woodland Visit!

Tuesday, FRC Team 3313 Mechatronics visited Woodland Elementary School. We had a fantastic time! The kids appeared to be slightly more rowdy than our usual group of students. Many students wished to run out in front of our robot, but after forcing them to settle down, we were all able to have a fun but safe time.

The presentation went by very quickly and we were able to move on to shooting Frisbees with our robot. Everyone on the team always says, "Elementary school visits are our favorite public outreach events. It always an amazing feeling to see how excited the kids are about robotics." We, as a team, look forward to the next elementary school visit!

MSHSL Team Member Stories - Part 2

Attending the Minnesota State High School League State Championship was a fantastic time, and knowing that Minnesota was the first state to have a state champion for FIRST robotics teams makes it that much more awesome. Knowing that after all of the hard work that we put into the robot, and the awards, and the outreach events wasn't going unnoticed it makes me want to do ten times more next year. Although everything that could go wrong did, being in FIRST has taught me that things go wrong and to keep moving forward after you have fixed it.  Attending this event has made me want next year to come sooo much faster so I can start all over and do better from learning from past experiences.

Personally, my favorite parts about MHSHL this past weekend, not only included being on a bus with 14 awesomely crazy people, but I also got to experience what it was like to go through robot malfunctions. During regionals most everything went great, but not here; that was okay though. Our team still stayed positive throughout the day and I LOVED that! Only during FIRST have I seen this happen. Any other sports team would have gotten extremely discouraged. In saying this, I couldn’t ask to be on a better team.

I actually managed to learn a couple things this weekend. Our team works really well under pressure, scouting works better in big groups with lots of computers, tic tac toe is really hard when you play it 300 times, pit sitting is really boring until really cool inspectors came to the pit and talk about random things, and Peanut brittle (wait don't add that). All in all, I love everything and everybody in my robo-family! LOUD AND PROUD!!! WHO ARE WE?

The Minnesota State High School League competition is definitely a lot different than the regional. I think the competition got more interesting towards the end because the robots were able to fix problems and they started to get more competitive. Overall, I had a blast like always. It was great seeing the drive team always jamming out to the songs as they waited their turn to compete. (Mostly Bydlon of course haha) 3313!!

The MSHSL was an awesome competition to experience. In the competition we may have had a few hiccups along the way but we did our best. It was fun seeing our robot perform and seeing how far our team made it in the eight months i’ve known them. It was also fun to watch for the fact it was a battle between the higher ranked and seeing what other teams have made to get as far as they did. Overall I say the competition was dope.

MSHSL Team Member Stories - Part 1

The MN State Robotics Championship did not go perfectly. We had mechanical failures, mental errors, poor alliance execution, inspection issues, and a myriad of other problems. BUT here’s the thing that makes FIRST Robotics so great and the main reason why I love our team so much: I could care less.

Moments like having the whole team in a hotel room scouting on laptops or exchanging weird faces on a bus or dancing in the stands or inside team jokes or doing whatever it is that needs to be done. These are the things I’ll take away from this competition. 

Every year the team has a new identity and a new culture. The MSHSL Competition was this year’s swan song. It showcased everything I love about our team. Our smiles, our laughs, and our positive attitudes. I could not possibly be prouder.

MSHSL. To me this is probably the coolest thing, besides FIRST itself. Why? Because even though we struggled throughout the whole competition for a plethora of reasons, it was amazing to keep my head held high no matter win or lose. Those were our Minnesota teams. In Regionals, we have a mixture of anyone from anywhere. Here though, it was Minnesota. That’s it. It is one of those times where you are even prouder to be part of something bigger than yourself, not just a team or not just representing your city but being a Minnesotan along with every other team member there. This may have been my senior year but it was also my rookie year, I was fortunate enough to be part of the drive team and see what a difference there was from Regionals. The MSHSL was so much faster and so much more to do and of course so much fun. Through and through, from bus ride to robot breakdown, I could not have felt prouder to stand by my fellow Minnesotans.

My head's still spinning with Team numbers and OPR and a bunch of other numbers I don’t even remember what they were for. Scouting is probably my favorite part of the competition. I get to specifically look for strengths and weaknesses and how to use them to our advantage. Then Zack and I ran to the drive team and told them the plan for the next match. It felt more like Recon than Scouting. 

The State Robotics Championship is the second robotics event I have scouted as head of scouting and the third event I have went to total. Not only that but I have watched many youtube videos on the robots for this competition. Needless to say, in the past few months, I have seen a lot of robots made to do the exact same goal. Yet, it is still amazing to me how many different ways there are to go about this challenge. I keep seeing new robots made with great ideas from the teams. It makes me proud to be a part of FIRST. 

I was not expecting much from the MSHSL Competition, but it was outstanding experience like all of the other robotics events I have attended. I wasn't nearly as excited for this as I was the regional competition, but it's hard to beat the experience of a regional. I had a fantastic time conversing with fellow FRC teams. Throughout the day, I chatted with Blue Twilight and the Robettes. Thanks to all the truly wonderful and unique people attending the MSHSL, I was able to fully enjoy my day.