Robo Vikes Information

If you are interested in joining the Robo Vikes talk to Mr. Depta, who is the coach of the robotics team. Currently we are meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on announced Saturdays from 11am to 5pm. At these meetings, we are working on off- season projects that include a ball shooter, a t-shirt cannon, two drive trains, and an articulating arm. Anyone is welcome to come for as long or short as they would like to help out.

The robotics team offers many ways to help. The team needs members for CAD, marketing, website design, newsletter writers, business, media, design, fabrication, and assembly.  The team also does outreach by helping some of the feeder schools with their First Lego League (FLL) teams, attending Engineering Week at The Fort Worth Museum of Science and Industry and UTA Research Institutes. Robotics team graduates have gone on to major in medicine, business, and liberal arts as well as engineering.

Being in robotics also opens doors for college scholarship money, and it looks good on a resume.

Our main form of communication for meetings and projects is robovikes4206.slack.com. The best way to join the team is to come and be as involved as you can. The more you put in, the more you get out!

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A Freshman’s Guide to Robo Vikes

Looking back on my Freshman year, it could not have been better!  Many Freshman think that Robo Vikes will be too hard or complicated for them or that they are not smart enough, I would say that is incorrect.  Last year, I was the only Freshman in the Engineering Two/Three class. Success is all about mindset.  Robo Vikes has something for everyone!  As a freshman, or new student to Robo Vikes, find what interests you and follow your passion. Robo Vikes is much bigger than motors, wires, and gadgets; it has many components such as marketing, media, business, outreach and fabrication.  All of these components are part of the bigger vision and mission of Robo Vikes. 

Freshman

Robo Vikes will give you opportunities that you would never have expected. I came into Robo Vikes wanting a challenge, and wanting to learn. Our teachers, Dr. Scheer and Mr. Depta, told me to jump right in and not to be afraid of the boys. They are outstanding teachers that will challenge and empower you while standing beside you. We are also blessed with mentors from different companies that  dedicate their time and knowledge to the team. Who would have thought that a Varsity Cheerleader  would be welding, lathing, and milling metal parts for Robo Vikes? When I first joined Robo Vikes, I was afraid of not knowing what to do or of doing something wrong. That fear quickly went away.  As a team, we worked together and operated like a family. The guys on the team were like my brothers. The teachers and mentors were like parents. All of us continued to refine our skills and learn from each other. This past season we won the Dallas Regional Competition, placed second in the Alamo Regional, and made it all the way to semifinals in our division at the World Competition.  We may have won at these events, but most importantly, we learned invaluable skills and forged friendships that will last a lifetime.   

If I were to give you a guide for being a Robo Vike, it would go something like this:

Christina

  1. Do not be afraid!
  2. Get involved! Try something new or invest your time in one of the many components- marketing, media, outreach, etc.
  3. Challenge yourself beyond what you think you can do!
  4. Be willing to learn, follow instruction, as well as lead when needed.
  5. Get ready to grow and have more fun than you can even imagine!

 

Robo Vikes is an outstanding world-class team!  We work hard and the payoff is great!!! 

– Christina  Cross, Robo Vike sophomore

 

 

Shop Organization

Even in the hot Texas summer heat the Robo Vikes were hard at work; 20 students, mentors, and other volunteers were moving, lifting, sweeping, organizing, and staying hydrated. A suggestion from one student, Matthew Ross, was to “get a pool to help power some turbines whenever power goes out, practice for the inevitable FIRST water game, and use to cool off on days like this”.

On Saturday, July 29th, the Robo Vikes gathered to move everything out of the shop, clean everything, and move everything back in in an organized fashion. The goal is to not have to spend time looking for parts or equipment they cannot find, not spend money buying that which they could not find, and instead save more money and have more time to work on the robot.

The Robo Vikes are determined to always keep improving and build on the success of last season, and with their work ethic they are sure to succeed.

Robo Vikes in Indiana

At the end of the school year, the Robo Vikes were invited to attend the Indiana Robotics Invitational (IRI), a competition held in Indianapolis on July 14-15. About 70 elite robotics teams were invited for outstanding performances in FIRST Steamworks. The Robo Vikes were honored and excited to have been chosen to compete.

The competition was the same game as at the FIRST Robotics Competition, where the robots had to place gears to make rotors spin and shoot fuel (balls) into the boiler. One reason the Robo Vikes were invited was for their exemplary ability to place gears and get rotors turning, but on the first day of competition, things did not go as planned. After adding new programming on top of the wear and tear from performing in a few too many matches, the robot broke down. Despite this setback, the Robo Vikes, as usual, did not give up. Luckily the host school had a machine shop, so the team worked hard to repair and replace parts. They got the bot up and running again, and ultimately placed 22nd. They were in the top half of a large field of phenomenal teams, an impressive feat.

Though they tried not to show it, it was an emotional time for the recently graduated seniors, as this was their last competition. But any competition that sells fresh Indiana corn has got to be a great way to end a season!

Busy Summer

Dear Colleagues and Robo Vikes,

I am honored to serve as the Robo Vikes Head Coach this year and would like to thank Mr. Benny Araujo for accepting my offer to act as our Assistant Coach. Dr. Scheer stepped down from the Head Coach position in order to spend more time with his family. We will continue to pray for Dr. Scheer and his family, and we are extremely thankful for all that he has done to create the wonderful Robo Vike Robotics Program here at Nolan Catholic.

I believe that with the great group of mentors, parents and students, we will continue to strive toward his vision.

After our successful 2017 Season where we won the Dallas Regional and the Engineering Excellence Award in San Antonio, were Runner-Up in the San Antonio Regional, and competed in Houston at the World Championships, the Robo Vikes had a busy summer.  First, the team put on the three-day Robo Vike Summer Camp in early June.  During this week, junior high students were challenged to learn how to build and program Lego Mindstorm Robots and successfully compete in a challenge.  Nolan Robo Vike students gained leadership experience as they mentored these younger students.  Each afternoon, welding specialist Larry Baker spent a few hours teaching the students how to weld both aluminum and steel.  Virgil Sellers taught the students basics in using the milling machine.

Our students worked hard to prepare for a trip in early July to Indianapolis, Indiana to compete in the Indiana Robotics Invitational (IRI). Dr. Scheer, myself and a team of 14 students made the trip to Indianapolis to compete with the best of the best in the United States.  This competition is like the All-Star game of the FIRST Robotics Competition.  One of the teams that had competed in the Finals of the San Antonio Regional ended up ranked last.  Our team was not selected for the elimination rounds, but we enjoyed watching some of the cream-of-the-crop teams compete in the championship.  The highest scoring round of the season (without penalties) was scored during these matches – over 500 points.  It was a fantastic experience for our team and a great way to say a final goodbye to our graduated seniors who attended the event with us.

This is the first time we have had so many off-season events, and we are excited to start our new season by keeping up the momentum from last year. Our Kick Off Meeting on September 13 was very successful; We had a great turn out and could feel the excitment.  The mentors have five projects lined up that will be used to help train students in the design, fabrication, assembly and testing processes needed to build confidence so that the team will be ready for build season.  The team will be building two drive trains, a ball shooter and hopper, an extending arm/grabber and one other project that is yet to be determined.  Mentor Mike Crance will be directing the project efforts and Kevin LaPerriere will head training in fabrication. Chris Eggleston, Mark Stranczek, Mike Ross, David Bickett, and Bob Benkowski will also be helping the team as mentors.  We greatly appreciate them sharing their time and talents!

Mr. Depta

 

CAD: The Final Frontier

If you haven’t heard of it already, there is a semester long class at Nolan called CAD.

The CAD class, short for computer-aided-design, has been taught at Nolan for a number of years. However, this is the first year that the illustrious Dr. Scheer and Mr. Depta have taught it, bringing it a little bit closer to all of the RoboVikes members. Many of the students enrolled are either current Robovikes or future ones.

There are currently 12 students in the class.

Before jumping into making grand designs on the computer, 2-3 weeks of the course are dedicated to mastering the fine art of mechanical drawing by hand. This was the way parts were designed before the first commercially available CAD machine was released in the mid 1960’s.

Using T-squares, triangles, and compasses; students carefully sketch basic shapes, then more complex drawings, and eventually working parts. All the while, they must be wary of aspects like line thickness and the many different uses for the 9 different line types. If they are careless, it results in the drawing not being able to transfer to reality as well as the computer. Being able to picture a drawing in action is one of the best ways to judge a drawing’s worth. This is why the classwork never consists of incredibly abstract objects.

This kind of rigorous craftsmanship isn’t for everybody, and some who are in the class may ask the infamous question, Why?

Why must a course titled Computer-aided-drafting spend 3 weeks drawing?

Here’s why. First and foremost, it develops a appreciation for the many advancements in technology. Secondly, it builds a proper foundation for concepts like dimensioning, multi-view drawings, and spacial conditioning. Thirdly, it teaches the user self-discipline and the value of error. On the computer, someone makes a mistake. Backspace, click! Everything is fine. Make a mistake drafting and the price is high. No one wants to make a dimensioning error at the beginning of a drawing, then realize at the finish he or she must erase the whole thing and start over. Unconsciously, students begin to double-check, triple-check themselves, and that certainly transfers to the computer, and most definitely to real life.

After all the sketching, the students eventually transfer to the computer. The program that has been used in the past is called Google Sketch Up, an online sketching tool. However, it pales in comparison to Solidworks. Recently, Dr. Scheer reached out to the Nolan administration, regarding a new set of computers, specifically those that are compatible with Solidworks. Thanks to the efforts of Nolan principal, Mrs. Leah Rios, the school was able to purchase the computer needed to run Solidworks.

The semester is only beginning, but already the students are proving that the CAD class will be a wonderful asset to the RoboVikes. When questioned about the class, a student said his favorite thing was the symmetry. He went on, “I like to think of myself as a professional. The exactness, and the precision of the work we do, helps bring out the best of that professional.”

Go RoboVikes!

Upcoming Off-Season Events

In preparation for the upcoming season, the Robo Vikes are participating in some off-season events.

Off-season events are similar to the regional competitions, but they are much more relaxed.  They are great opportunities for new members to gain experience and for returning members to hone their skills and become re-accustomed with their technique.

It is still unknown as to what robot the RoboVikes will be using in these competitions.  It could be the famous 2017 robot “The Game”, a modified Demobot, or an entirely new robot.

The team is planning to attend the NTX Tournament of Robots and Robot Remix. The Robo Vikes have never attended the NTX Tournament of Robots and are looking forward to a new and different challenge. This event is in Plano, Texas, October 7th and 8th.

Fortunately, the RoboVikes are no stranger to Robot Remix which is in the Woodlands, Texas, just outside of Houston.  The team has attended this event the past 4 years and even won it last year.

The team is very excited for these upcoming events that will give everyone great experiences to help them work successfully throughout the year.

CNC Router

The Robo Vikes have recently purchased and installed a new Velox CNC router to help in the assembly of parts for the robot greatly. This new machine is made to drill precise holes and lines into sheets of material placed under it.

A CNC router is a Computer Numerical Control Router that cuts out shapes and holes following the directions of the entered code and design. This router will skillfully and effectively cut materials such as aluminum, wood, plastics and especially steel. Production speed for the needed parts of the robot will greatly increase due to the fact that the members will be able to create most robot parts themselves instead of outsourcing them at different companies.

The CNC router is a Veox brand VR-5050 model was paid for by a generous donation from an anonymous donor. Mentor Kevin LaPerriere managed to get the new machine at a discount, and installed most of it with the help of the team over the past couple of weeks. We are very thankful for his time and effort put into this machine that will greatly improve the team as well as impress our donors that helped contribute to the purchase.

Here are some videos of a CNC router in action!

Sustainability

Maintaining a team involves many different things, from active members to training. Sustainability is the merging of these two aspects in order to guarantee the next generation of the team is ready for any challenge.

Team 4206’s plan for sustainability is a simple three step process:

  1. Educate. As seniors leave and move on to their new adult lives, other team members must step up and take on the vacant roles in order to keep things running smoothly. In order to do this, we try to educate rising team members in the positions they are preparing to undertake. Seniors have invaluable information and experience that could fully prepare someone for their new role, and we hope to fully utilize their talents and knowledge to train the next generation of Robo Vikes.
  2. Outreach. The team doesn’t freeze up during the summer. We work on finding potential sponsors and community members. Another key to sustaining a team is to maintain a presence in the area. We do this through outreach in things like FLL or other forms of volunteer work.
  3. Planning. Last but not least comes the all important step of planning for success. The off-season is a time for team members to step back and look at what went wrong and right in the recent season. This opportunity offers us a chance to really see what we can do to improve next time. With that information, we can plan ahead and determine what we will and will not do next year when presented with similar problems.

Sustainability is paramount when it comes to an organization of any kind. Without it, the group would simply fall apart as members left. Keeping a cycle of servant leadership going in our community and team is how we plan to push the Robo Vikes forward for the upcoming years of competition.