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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trying New Things - Food Shelf and School Board

As usual, we are busy, busy, busy! Team 3313 has been mixing in some last minute events and presentations right before Christmas Break and Kickoff. We helped out at a food shelf and presented to our School Board.

After school yesterday, we had our normal FTC meeting. At that point we split up. Some of the team members started working on programming and working on the FTC robot. Alicia, Brooklyn, Jeremy, Bethany, and Kacy went to the Douglas County Food Shelf. They helped sort a ton of donated food into categories. At the food shelf, people can come in and shop for food so sorting the donated food helps everyone out. It was super fun! Our team hasn't done anything like that before but we definitely will in the future!!

Once that group was done with the food shelf, everyone came back together. Bryce, Kacy, Alicia, Brooklyn, Karl, and Bydlon got something to eat at Culvers. Then they headed to the Alexandria School Board Meeting.

This was yet another first for our team. See, we have never presented to the School Board before. We were a little nervous at the beginning of the presentation. But as we went along, we got much better. The Board was very smiley which is a great sign. We had two reasons for presenting to the School Board: one, we wanted to make sure they knew about us, and two, we want to make more connections in our community.

It's always scary to try new things. However, that's the only way anything can grow. We are almost ready for Kickoff!

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Sponsor - Tri-State Manufacturers' Association

We have a new sponsor for our Robotics Program!

They are called the Tri-State Manufacturers' Association. They have generously donated $2000 to our robotics program!

From their website:
Tri-State Manufacturers’ Association assists manufacturing related companies by providing advocacy, education, networking, and programs to enhance the success of members and their communities.
You should totally check out their website. They do a lot of really great work on promoting manufacturing all across our region.

We are going to accept their check at their annual meeting this January at Massman Automation Designs!


Team 3313 had a meeting last week! We're finally updating about it now.

The main (well, only) project we worked on was the Chairman's Executive Summary. We completed a first draft! We realize FIRST has not actually released the full Awards Section of the Rulebook. However, if you log into STIMS (the student login thing for FRC), the executive summary questions and essay questions are on there. So we are basing our work off of that for now. If the rules change, we will adjust accordingly. 

For those not aware, last week we took our team timeline of events (EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE ONE OF THESE) and divided them up into Essay, Speech, and the 12 Executive Summary Questions. This prevents repeats across the three platforms (except the essential stuff). 

Today, we took the super long lists under each Executive Summary Question and narrowed them down to 2 or 3 things. Finally, we assigned each question to a person to type up. That way, each person was in charge of one 500 character section. We will edit them in the future but simply typing up SOMETHING is the first (and possibly most difficult) step. 

Working on the Chairman's Award as a large group has been a great experience so far. It's informational for rookies and makes the whole team invested in the product (the same should be applied to the robot). Plus, we don't have a lot of robot activities to do right now so this is keeping everyone busy. 

It's super, duper funny to think of where we are at in the Chairman's process this year, compared to last year. At this time last year, we had barely done anything. We completed our first Executive Summary Draft with about 1 week left in Build Season. It's just awesome to see how far we've come in such a short time. 

We're getting philosophical here but our team really enjoys the Chairman's Award. It's the main thing that separates FIRST from just about every other competition (of any kind). FIRST is about building robots and exposing young people to Engineering and Science but even more than that, it's about changing the culture, community by community, to make science fun, interesting, and desirable. Chairman's rewards and pushes teams to keep doing more. 

Anyway, in our meeting this week, we're going to start making an outline and formatting the essay. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Splish Splash Training

FRC Team 3313 Mechatronics traveled down to the Twin Cities this past Saturday for SPLASH Training. To be more accurate, Bydlon, Kacy, Mitch, and Andrew traveled down. Not exactly our whole team, but it was still fun!

As always, they left at around 5am. SPLASH Training is a great training opportunity put on by GOFIRST, a student organization of former FIRST Robotics members at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. It happens at the STSS building on the U of M campus.

Bydlon and Kacy did a presentation on Social Media. It went really well!! Social media is a huge part of our team (Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr are our favorites) so it's really great to share our knowledge and tips with others. Part of Dean's homework was to make FIRST loud in our communities and all over the world. Social media is a great way to do that. Besides, sharing ideas is what makes everybody better.

The best part of the day, however, was seeing old FIRST Robotics friends and making new ones. There were lots of rural teams there for our team to chat with. We also talked to many other teams that we are now familiar with like Knightkrawler, King Tec, and Green Machine.

Bydlon was a part of the MNFIRST Q&A session. There was great discussion for rookie teams and newer teams during the Q&A. Kacy learned some new information at the Chairman's session (as did Bydlon). Mitch and Andrew went to some fantastic robot-centered presentations.

All in all, it was an awesome day. Thank you so much to GOFIRST and all of the presenters for all their hard work!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Field Trip and Chairman's Party!

FRC Team 3313 kind of thought we didn't have a lot to do today. But, as it turns out, we got A TON accomplished. It was super awesome.

First, we discussed who was going with to Splash Training this coming Saturday at the U of M Twin CIties. Splash training is a great opportunity for teams to get together and learn about all aspects of FIRST.  Some of the topics include building a robot, wiring it up, programming it, running a successful teams, and loads more. Here's a copy of the schedule if you're interested. 

After that, we took a Team 3313 field trip to our apparel supply store. This time, the entire team went with. It was an experience... But definitely a good one! We picked out and finalized the design of our team track jackets. The track jackets are going to be our big team apparel item (along with team t-shirts, like always). Anyway, they're going to rock.

Speaking of going to rock, our Chairman's work really got off the ground today. It was a total team effort (we had 9 people working... NINE!). 

First, we talked about what the Chairman's Award includes (for newbies). Then, we printed out our Team Timeline and cut out each event. PS: A team timeline is like, the best idea ever. We sorted the events into the 7 different Chairman's categories. Then, we sorted the events out into what we wanted to talk about in each of the three main pillars: essay, speech, and executive summary.

Out next steps? Start making a real outline for the speech and essay, then start on a rough draft. 

It's insane how far we've come on Chairman's work since last year. At this time last year, we were still learning what Chairman's was!!! 

Keep being awesome everyone.