This past year has been a fantastic year for the Robo Vikes. In addition to building our most complex robot ever, we also upgraded our entire shop with state of the art equipment, and greatly expanded our team. Thanks to the contributions to the team from donors, mentors, students, and parents, our team is now the biggest and most technologically advanced that we’ve ever been.
Now that our presence at Nolan Catholic High School has been established, we’re looking to expand our outreach programs. This year, our outreach consisted of the hosting of a FIRST Lego League event, a STEM interactive presentation with a local charity for mentally challenged adults, and participation in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History’s National Engineers Week for the 7th year in a row. Towards the future, we’re hoping to expand our outreach programs and extend our influence for the benefit of our community. Our students hope to mentor more junior high FLL teams, continue our work with Rockhouse, and host an FLL practice event. We will hold a summer camp here at Nolan Catholic High School from June 4th to 8th.
As the year and season come to a close, the Robo Vikes begin work on their finals. For this year’s finals, the Robo Vikes are learning about gearboxes and how to CAD for next years’ season, in addition to redesigning the website. Roddy Chisholm, Aramis Contreras, Matthew Munro, Dayton Hisel, and John Conlin were tasked with learning about two types of gear boxes, versa-planetary and west coast single-speed gear boxes. These students broke into two teams where they would not only assemble these gear boxes, but make a presentation showing the uses of the gearboxes, their parts, and their gear ratios. Other Robo Vikes members including Nate Schmidt, taught CAD to Julian Ermish, a freshman. Julian learned how to make basic designs and how CAD works by having a basic understanding of the computer program. Furthermore, Victoria Benkowski and Joey Bickett completely redesigned the Team 4206’s website (www.team4206.com), making it more modern, sleek, and accessible. These projects have been implemented to teach new skills to current Robo Vikes members and incoming students in future years.
Variosystems is an international electronics service company which specializes in electronic boards. They serve all around the globe with locations including China, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and the USA. Additionally, Variosystems is environmentally conscious and are strongly committed to environmental protection in accordance with ISO 14001. The Robo Vikes became acquaintances with this company through one of the members Julian Ermish, his father Peter Ermish, a manager of the company.
Team 4206 was given the opportunity to present to Variosystems during a company events. The Robo Vike’s marketing team presented about what it means to be a Robo Vike. Variosystems had similar views about our core message and thus were willing to back us.
Due to the interest in our program, they donated equipment and financial support that would help foster growth of the team. Team 4206 appreciates all that Variosystems has done to help foster growth and we look forward to our partnership with them.
The Robo Vikes were recently invited to participate in the VSPYS: Nolan Catholic High School´s sports award show. They helped present the best fan award using the 2018 competition robot. To present the award, they decorated a power cube in blue cloth, put foam inside of it to hold a letter, and inserted the letter with the award winner’s name on it. It was loaded on the robot and when the time came, the robot drove from behind the stage to the front of the stage. Once it got in front, the robot shot the cube up to the presenters. The presenters caught the cube, pulled the letter out and announced the winner. It was very well received and got quite a reaction when it was driving and shooting the cube. The robot was being driven by senior Alejandro Araujo and operated by junior Will Bice. Senior Carson Fitzgibbon also came in to do some programming to get the robot ready for the event. The Robo Vikes are very thankful for this opportunity and hope to be invited again to the VSPYS. Watch the video here.
Wow! I cannot believe we are at the end of the year. The year has gone quickly, but not without a lot of wonderful memories and fantastic successes. It was back in October that our new student leaders experienced struggling through packing to participate in our first competition of the year up in Plano. During the Fall, they were assigned challenging projects to help them learn. The students gained confidence in themselves as they worked on trying to move from their ideas to a design, to a working assembly. In November, we competed at the Woodlands and from this many of the students got their initial experience of a FIRST event. We hosted an FLL competition in December. The entire Robo Vike family pitched in to make that event a success.
The build season began in January with an alumni reunion and team social, followed by the Robo Vikes hosting the FRC kick-off the following day. It was magnificent to see alumni from the past few seasons present to help assist this year’s team and to share in the excitement. The team built the most sophisticated robot in the Robo Vikes’ history, in addition to building strong friendships and great team chemistry. After competing in Dallas, the team took on the challenge of a major robot redesign and managed to complete it in less than a month. Finally, we competed in San Antonio, and for the fifth straight official FRC competition, were an alliance captain.
After this exhausting stretch, the students have been preparing for next year with their final projects. We celebrated the end of the season with a team social, senior reflections on their Robo Vike careers, and many thanks to our mentors and parents for all their time and effort. Thank you especially to Peter and Julia Ermish for hosting this event. This year, the Robo Vikes graduated 14 seniors. Congratulations to our seniors and to all Robo Vikes on an outstanding season.
This summer we hope to reorganize the shop to better use our space, and to continue to improve our training program, so in the fall more students have the opportunity to learn and become valuable assets to the team. We have an outstanding group of students moving up to fill the shoes of the 14 graduating seniors. We strongly believe that our 2018-2019 season will be full of improvements, an even greater than our 2017-2018 season.
The Seniors will be missed by everybody. They have helped everyone with their wisdom and encouragement. It is sad to see them go because most of them will not be able to show that wisdom to the students next year. But thanks to them we can now pass that information to others. Thanks to them we have learned how to work the machines, how to CAD, and they help us when we don’t know what to do. So because of them we are closer to our futures. So thank you and we hope you have a great time in college.
Alejandro Araujo has been a Robo Vike for the past 4 years. He began as a shop assistant as a freshman. As a sophomore he was president of the FIRST Tech Challenge Team and a project co-lead for the FIRST Robotics Competition Team. His junior and senior years he served as president of the team, overseeing both the construction of the robot and managing business and marketing. What he will miss most is working on the robot late into the night with his friends. His favorite memory was winning the Dallas Regional in 2017. He will be attending the University of Texas at Arlington to study mechanical engineering but he plans on returning to the Robo Vikes as a mentor.
Jesus Barragan joined robotics when he was a junior. He spent two years on the team. He was always an assistant ready to help get what was needed, whether is was helping get tools from the shop or making a few spacers. He learned no matter the result, one must be proud for the effort, collaboration and work that was put into the robot. He plans to attend the University of Texas in Arlington where he plans to major in Mechanical Engineering.
Victoria Benkowski has been part of the Robo Vikes for two years. She joined her junior year as team media and a Chairman’s presenter. Her senior year, she continued with team media and the Chairman’s presentation, but this time, was the Chairman’s Lead. She greatly enjoyed her time on Team 4206 and will attend Purdue University next year to major in physics.
Roddy Chisholm will attend Texas Tech and will major in engineering although he don’t know what kind right now. He’s been involved on the team for about 2 years now doing different things, he started doing FTC in the beginning with a few other team members and then afterwards tried to help in FRC any way he could. He favorite memory in Robo Vikes was mentoring a FLL team for the school Daggett Montessori because it was a lot of fun seeing the kids come up with different ideas and solving problems while he helped them along the way.
Aramis Contreras joined the Robo Vikes at the beginning of his senior year. He had always been interested in engineering by first taking the Intro to Engineering class his junior year, through his in class assignments and friends in the Robo Vikes program he made his decision to join the following year. After joining he started with small task by helping in any possible, whether it was gathering tools from the shop or manufacturing parts. He came to enjoy the manufacturing and getting his hands dirty in the shop and came to learn what it meant to collaborate and be part of a larger team. Aramis plans on attending the University of Texas in Arlington where he intends on majoring in Biomedical Engineering.
Carson FitzGibbon was a Robo Vike for two years, starting my junior year. He started asking what the team needed, and fell into programming. The next year, he added control systems to his resume. He plans to attend Texas A&M University in Galveston.
Jacob Hernandez joined the robotics program at the beginning of his senior year. He recently acquired an interest in engineering and decided to join the program. While on the team, Jacob was never afraid to do any task he was assigned. In fact, he was eager to learn about the different machines and really enjoyed working on the lathe by the end of the season. Jacob will attend Texas A&M and pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Gabriel Le has been a Robo Vike since his sophomore year. This year he made great strides by helping with fabrication and assembly. He plans to attend Tarleton State.
Raphael Le has been a Robo Vike since his sophomore year as well. Last season, he and Nate succeeded in making the first ball feeder in the history of our team. Raphael was an improtant part of the fabrication and assembly team this season. He plans to attend Tarleton State.
Dan Luong has been a Robo Vike for one year and has been very involved. He has done manufacturing and assembly throughout the course of the year. He will be attending Texas A&M University to study Computer Engineering.
Matty Munro has been a member of the Robo Vikes for one year. He will be attending TCU.
Julia Murray has been a member of the Robo Vikes for two years. She began her time on the team learning CAD, but soon found her calling in organization and writing. She helped the team organize their online files and created a system for scouting at competitions her junior year, and then became head of the newsletter, The Blue Wire, her senior year. She enjoys helping the team spread their message and tell their stories to The Blue Wire subscribers, and wishes the best to the team as she bids them goodbye. She will be attending Texas Christian University in the fall as part of the honors college to study political science with emphasis in international relations, and she also plans to join drumline in the marching band.
Matthew Ross has been on the team for three years. He worked in many positions within the business half of the team, including outreach manager, fundraiser, marketer, newsletter writer, event manager, accountant, Chairman’s presenter, Chairman’s lead, business lead, and business plan author. However, that hasn’t stopped him from being involved with the robot – he loves strategy meetings, has been involved with manufacturing, has helped manage control systems, assisted with building mock game pieces, and taught himself how to code. Next year he will be studying abroad as a part of the Goethe Institut Studienbrücke Deutschland/Study Bridge Germany program in Germany, where he plans on later attending university.
Nate Schmidt has been apart of the Robo Vikes for two years. He started his junior year where he worked in the shop making parts, learning how to use machines such as the mill and lathe. His senior year he was lead of the design of the robot, overseeing and leading students through the design process. What he enjoys most is working hard with his friends and getting to see something really cool that they have built all come together at the end. Next year he will be attending the University of Arkansas where he plans to study mechanical engineering.
There are some people on the Robo Vikes whose tremendous amount of work and contribution to the team gets overlooked, because its not necessarily one of the jobs that’s in the public eye. Victoria is the student behind the camera, and is responsible for a good majority of pictures taken during competition and off-season. She has also put together several promotional videos for the Robo Vikes, she works side by side with Julia Murray managing The Blue Wire (our monthly newsletter), and she led this year’s Chairman’s Team.
Victoria has been on the team for two years. Her junior year she joined as a photographer, and was on the Chairman’s Team. Besides the aforementioned, this year she has spearheaded the process of remaking the Robo Vikes website, working with several other students to make our website look as awesome as our team actually is.
Victoria’s natural talent and passion for photography lends itself to capturing some of the greatest moments in Robo Vikes history. She is kind, considerate, funny, and an excellent leader, and the Robo Vikes are proud to call her one of us.
She will be attending Purdue University to study physics.
There are many students in the Robo Vikes but there is one who stands out among all the rest: his name is Will Bice. This year Will was the robot lead. Given that this is one of the most difficult jobs on the team, Will did an excellent job at far surpassing the expectations.
Will has many amazing qualities that make him perfect for this position. He is capable of seeing the big picture of an idea and helping guide it from start to finish, and he also possesses an amazing work ethic. He was an excellent leader: making sure everyone had a job and keeping them on task. Will was also heavily involved in the design process, especially for the drive-train. He also programmed the designs for the CNC router and learned how to operate the router, a highly valuable skill.
During competition, Will was an important asset to both the drive team and pit crew. He was the human player and worked with the other team leads to solve problems and compete to the best of everyone’s abilities.
This year Will is nominated for the Dean’s Award. Juniors and sophomores can receive this award for their outstanding dedication to their team. Overall, Will is an essential part of the Robo Vikes and will continue to grow in leadership.
The Robo Vikes recently attended the Alamo Regional in San Antonio. The regional was held in St.Mary’s gym on their campus. If you haven’t been to a competition it’s like a sporting event with robots. Everyone has a lot of energy and the atmosphere is always charged with excitement.
The first day the pit crew worked quickly to significantly change the robot for inspection. The shooter was reconfigured, and some belts on the drivetrain were switched out for chains. Once the alterations were complete the robot got inspected and cleared to go on the field to play.
The scouts were working hard as well. Members split up into groups to talk to every team about their robot. The groups had a list of questions to fill out for every team to gain insight on the workings of their robot. This insight is vital during alliance selections. After gathering the needed data, the scouts discussed the designs that stood out to them.
The qualification matches began on Friday. We played well, working to fill our vault as well as take possession of the switches and the scale. At the end of the day we had played 6 matches. The scouting team recorded the stats for every robot and playings teams.
After dinner the scouting team had a meeting with the drive team and mentor Kevin LaPerierre. At this meeting they worked together using the collected stats and info to decide on a list of teams to pick during alliance selection.
Saturday was the last day of competition and it dawned with our last four qualification matches. When alliance selections began we were ranked 10th. After teams picked each other in the top 8 we became the 7th seed alliance captain. For our alliance we chose teams 3345 and 2723.
We were up against the 2nd seed alliance in the first round of the playoffs. After two intense matches we did not come out victorious. Despite this, we learned and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. In celebration of our accomplishments we enjoyed BBQ at Kent Black’s.
If you haven’t experienced robotics and would like to consider joining the team, we are always looking for mentors or students to join! The experience is one-of-a-kind.