Posts Tagged ‘FIRST’


This past weekend was World Maker Faire 2016 in New York. Maker Faire is a celebration of creativity, technology, and invention. I was lucky to attend the event again this year, showing off some LEGO robots at the ILUGNY booth. While the booth was constantly busy, I was able to explore and see some truly amazing projects. Follow me after the break for more photos from this incredible event!

(more…)

This week I thought I would write an extra post to share a couple of links that I was involved with. The first comes from an outstanding MINDSTORMS resource, EV3lessons.com. I was offered the opportunity to write a guest blog post. Naturally, I took this opportunity to share my thoughts on Build Robots with Gracious Professionalism. Head over to EV3 Lessons and checkout the post!

The other link comes from Sketchup. Last year at World Maker Faire in New York they had a camera crew capturing the event. They interviewed me, asking about making. The video is above. I did so many interviews, it was tough to keep with all the final videos. A friend of my brother found this video and shared it on social media. Check it out the awesome video and learn a bit about us Makers!

 

DSC_0830It’s hard to deny that “STEM” is the new buzzword in education. We need more STEM education! With the focus on this buzzword, schools are scrambling to figure out how to put STEM classes into their curriculum.

Robotics for me was the hook; it got me to explore, to question, to discover.

One of the most common ways schools are “adding STEM” is introducing robotics classes. I have seen countless schools that have introduced VEX IQ or LEGO MINDSTORMS as a way to address the need for STEM. These classes are “teaching” robotics, which as an engineer I don’t really understand.

(more…)

I want to share something I have learned in life. I hesitate to call it “wisdom” as I am not sure I have enough life experiences to make that claim. Whatever we call it, just consider this advice next time someone asks for help.

I have many things to be proud of, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, the various academic awards during high school and college, success at finding a job, etc. All those things are special and I am grateful for the recognition. However, something always seemed missing to me. I can’t say any of that recognition motivated me. I can’t say any of it defined me. Something just seems missing.

Yet tonight, I have something to be proud of that surpasses everything. Tonight we recognized 11 high school students for an amazing FIRST season. These kids er… young professionals came together to do something remarkable. They raised over $30,000, they built a 100 lb robot, they created a team culture, and best of all they succeeded by winning the Rookie All Star Award at the Orlando FRC Regional. These 11 young professionals have a lot to be proud of. I was honored to be part of the journey: to see the dream become a reality. And tonight, I too am proud.

I have had this feeling before. Back in Terre Haute, Indiana after starting FIRST LEGO League Team, Team Storm. I have it when I attend any FIRST event, especially the FIRST World Championship. And most recently tonight, recognizing the achievements of FIRST Robotics Competition Team 5145, Wolfbotics.

So what is that bit of information I want to pass on? What I have learned from all this?

The things you’re most proud of in life will be the things you inspire others to do.

 

As this journey of life continues and new experiences present themselves, I know what actions define me as a person. I know that “an hour a week” will end up being so much more. But that time will pay in other rewards that I can’t even imagine. I may never be financially rich and that is okay. I am rich in happiness. I am living the “American Dream”. And most of all, I have the honor to be a source of inspiration for others. I have been blessed.

Tonight as I go to bed, I know that I changed the world. Maybe I didn’t bring world peace or cure cancer, but maybe I inspired the next young mind that will. And for that, I am most proud.

The Rookie All Star trophy the team gave me and the signed picture of the team.

The Rookie All Star trophy the team gave me and the signed picture of the team.

This is not my first post about FIRST, and it certainly wont be my last. In case you missed it, I was a mentor/coach for FIRST Robotics Competition Team 5145, WolfBotics. I have to give a shout-out to NASA here as they were our title sponsor and without them our team would not exist. As a coach/mentor, I helped the students design, build, test, and compete with a robot. At the Orlando Regional, WolfBotics won the Rookie All Star Award and was invited to the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri. As a boy from the Midwest (I am from Ohio and did my undergrad in Indiana), I couldn’t wait to share some of the sights I grew up with. Naturally the St. Louis Arch and some of the amazing food. (Although they are yet to try Skyline Chilli.)

The first video above shows our pit setup on Wednesday night. It took a few hours, but I have it condensed to about 20 seconds for your enjoyment. Below is the trip from Gainesville, Florida to St. Louis, Missouri. We had a motor coach to drive us (thank goodness!) for the 13 hour drive.

Now everyone wants to know what the robot looked like, so below is a picture of our bot. I am super proud to say that it was all design, built, programmed, and operated by the students. When things went wrong, the team sprang into action and did an amazing job of fixing the bot. It was an excellent learning experience and I am looking for ward to the next season!

WolfBotics Bot

Finally, if you want to stay up with the latest from Team 5145, check them out on Twitter @WolfBotics!

Life has been crazy these past few weeks. From Brickworld, to FIRST, to school, there has been little free time. However this weekend brought me to the great state of Maine. Just a few hours east of FIRST HQ in New Hampshire, southern Maine is just beginning to get into robotics. Leading the charge is the Southern Maine Gearbots. Combining FIRST (FLL and FRC), VEX and some custom challenges, this group is working hard to prepare the engineers of tomorrow. Naturally any robotics event is not complete without a visit from some famous robots. Making an appearance was the LEGO MINDSTORMS Space Shuttle and Boston Engineering’s Robotuna. For many this was their first experience with real engineers and robotics.  I was honored to be invited to the event and it really seems to be a great program! Enjoy a few pictures capturing this really great event! Next year will be event better. Hats off to all involved!

image

My busy spring continues with the Boilermaker Regional. Purdue may be celebrating their win over St. Mary’s, but the party has been going for 2 days at the Purdue Armory. I have been busy judging. These kids are amazing. In 6 weeks these 40 teams have created some of the most innovative solutions to this year’s challenge: Rebound Rumble. From the music and dancing, it is hard to tell if this event is a party or a competition. I am constantly impressed how these teams demonstrate Gracious Professionalism. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

I love coaching FIRST LEGO League. It is a ton of fun and it is always interesting to see all the different robot ideas. One major challenge for my FLL team was building a strong motor base. While there are many good ideas out on the internet, I wanted to share one that my team really likes. Using 2 Technic frames and 1 1×13 beam, they were able to build a strong base. I have used this design before and I have been very pleased with the results. As you can see from the image, it is just a few parts and you are ready to go.

Actually, I used this design for a small robot I built last month. This robot uses the NXShield from Mindsensors. The video is on YouTube, though it wont let me make it public. I will work to get that sorted out and post again with the video in place. This is an early picture, but you can see the frames and base in the photo. I added a few more sensors for the video, but you can see how small and compact the robot is. In fact the entire robot is about 25 cm long and 20 cm wide. The robot is strong, and while I don’t recommend dropping your design, this one has survived a few falls.

The NXShield uses an Arduino and can easily be programmed in C. It has 4 motor ports and 4 sensor ports. My completed bot used a few touch sensors, a Mindsensors LineLeader, and a MindSensors Sumo Eyes. If you would like to learn more about Mindsensors and the NXShield, SumoEyes or LineLeader, check out Mindsensors.com.

Got an idea on how to make a motor base? Post below! What is your best design?

It is September and you know what that means! It is FIRST LEGO League Season. This year FLL is taking on a tasty challenge in looking at how we get our food. My team has already begun to meet and ideas are flowing! Over the course of the season we might have a few guest bloggers to share what the team has been working on!

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics has changed the lives of millions of children from elementary through high school. It brings the message that science and technology is fun.  This hour long special on ABC features the 2011 FIRST World Championship, better know as the “Super Bowl of Smarts”, in St. Louis, Missouri. Singer and songwriter will.I.am stepped up this past year to make FIRST loud. The event in St. Louis featured a concert by the Black Eyed Peas as well as a presence from major technology companies. Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST said this was the one sporting event where every child can go professional.

I personally attended this event along with several MCPs. I believe very strongly in the program and I am happy to say that I coach a team!

Don’t miss this special event on ABC and look for ways you can support FIRST Robotics in your community! For more information how you can get involved check out usfirst.org