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

 

Advertisements

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.

Robo Vike Seniors

As we near the end of our extremely successful season we must prepare to say, “farewell” to the many seniors who brought us so much of this success.

IMG_9026

David Yokell will definitely be missed. He has been a Robo Vike all four of his years at Nolan. He served as the Safety Captain during his sophomore year. This year he was the Robot Fabrication Lead Engineer responsible for CAD and he was also a member of the drive team. David plans to attend Missouri S&T where he will study mechanical engineering.  David’s calm demeanor had a positive effect on the RoboVikes.
Jack DeRuntz will also be attending Missouri S&T where he will study either computer or mechanical engineering. This was Jack’s first year on the team but he immediately made a strong impact as the person in charge of programming and

img_1361

James Hill. Alec Austin. Jesus Barragan (junior), Joey Bicket (sophomore), Jack DeRuntz, Alejandro Araujo (junior)

control systems. Jack seemed to have knowledge about every part of the robot and was always a calm and positive presence. He was an excellent driver which was key to the team’s success in competition. Together, Jack and David had the best understanding of the design and workings of the robot from a systems engineering point of view.

 

 

 

Eryk Ross will be attending Catholic University in Washington D.C where he will be studying mechanical engineering.  This is his third year with the Robo Vikes. He got his

t-shirt-pic-2

Eryk Ross

feet wet as a sophomore, but became a major contributor his junior year working on the FTC team. This year Eryk was one of the two most reliable fabricators with skills in milling and on the lathe. He was the pilot on the drive team in San Antonio and at the World Championship in Houston.

 

Alec Austin will be attending Drake University and studying engineering. Last year he was a key member of the FTC team. This year he and Eryk helped mentor younger students in using the mill and with skills in assembly. He was the pilot on the drive team in Dallas.

yay_1

Ryon Ruffner

Ryon Ruffner will be attending Texas A&M University where he will study engineering. This is his second year with the Robo Vikes. Ryon loves to weld
and has been key in the development of our team’s welding skills. He also contributed with fabrication on the mill and lathe and with assembly. Ryon was in charge of the Pit Crew at all of our competitions.

 

 

IMG_0664

Eryk Ross, David Yokell, Jack DeRuntz, Michael Gnatovic, Ryon Ruffner, Ian Burns

Other key contributors were Michael Gnatovic (who will attend the University of Utah), Grayson Hutka (University of Texas), Ian Burns (UTA), Cabe Glaze (University of Oklahoma), Kinston Chung (UTA), and Alec Castiglione (Michigan State). Alec coordinated the FLL Qualifying
Meet. Michael, Grayson, Ian, Cabe, Kinston and Alec were all contributors in the fabrication and assembly of the robot. Grayson headed up the building of the battery cart and the robot’s bumpers. James Hill (Southwestern University) and Evan Millender (University of

img_0688

Danielle Franzen

Oklahoma) were key contributors in editing and putting out our team newsletter each month. Dylan Meynard (TCU) and Chandler Williamson (UTA) were responsible for processing the team’s accounting. Damian Varga (Texas A&M), James Lovering (McPherson University) and Michael Fiore (TCU), who helped with marketing, Danielle Franzen (UTA), who helped with the newsletter and fabrication, Marcos Crane (UTA), who helped with making batteries, and Micah Le (A&M at Blinn-Bryan), who was in charge of shop organization, will be graduating from the Robo Vikes as well. Ermish 2

 

 

Investor Spotlight – TTI Inc.

TTI Inc. is a 47-year-old distributor specialist offering passive, connector, electromechanical and discrete components, and a 2-year sponsor of the Robo Vikes. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, it is known world-wide for its supply chain solutions and extensive product line, including resistors, capacitors, connectors, discretes, potentiometers, trimmers, magnetic and circuit protection components, wire and cable, wire management, identification products, application tools, and electromechanical devices. However, despite this focus on hardware, TTI has been dedicated to helping the Robo Vikes in more ways than tools and robot parts. Each year they have donated $2500 to us in addition to $2500 worth of marketing materials. Last year they gave us banners, shirts, and lanyards. The Robo Vikes also sent several students who were taken on a complimentary tour of TTI’s warehouse. This year, TTI graciously did not request a marketing presentation. As of now, we have yet to decide what to use the marketing funds they donated for, but we will be conscientious in our decision. The Robo Vikes’ thanks go out to TTI Inc.!

Image result for TTI inc fort worthImage result for TTI inc headquarters

Houston World Championship

IMG_0637 copyOn April 19th, the Robo Vikes had the pleasure and honor of attending the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition World Championship in Houston. We qualified for the championship by winning the title of Dallas Regional Winners. All members of the team had the incredible opportunity to attend this championship for the first time. Four students drove to Houston early Wednesday morning to unload all of our equipment and set up for the impending competition. Upon arriving, we were awestruck because we saw over four hundred teams. The venue was massive, housing six separate competition fields, two full size practice fields, and pit space for every team. We quickly got our pit set up and finished repairs so we could start practicing. We were assigned to the Turing division where we competed against 66 other teams. Persevering through many misfortunes on Thursday, we headed back to the hotel a little disappointed with our rank at 64. However, we came back ready to compete Friday morning. Our hopes buoyed all day as we won match after match, ending out the day ranked 5th, with a final win-loss record of 7-3. This put us, again, in the position to be choosing an alliance for playoffs. We came up with a pick-list late that night after much deliberation, going into alliance selection Saturday morning ready to create an alliance equipped to push through playoffs. We formed an alliance with three other teams: 4587 Jersey Voltage, 4468 the Fernbank LINKS, and 5960 the Mighty ROBO-RANGERS. cc 1With these amazing teams, we were able to come out victorious through Quarterfinals. IMG_8514Semi-finals were a tough fight against the number 1 ranked alliance. We pushed to a tie-breaker round before finally losing a very close match, knocking us out. In all, we had an amazing time, competing with the best teams in the world. While we may not have won, we had a wonderful time and accomplished many team goals. We had a fantastic year, and learned many new lessons setting us all up for a very successful future. And with that, our competition season has formally come to a close. Now, it is back to off-season and learning new things for next year!

A Note from the Doctor

IMG_0278

The blue hair did the trick!

Dear Colleagues and Robo Vikes,

As I still recover from the high that we experienced at the FIRST World Championship in Houston last month, I wanted to fill you in on our experience.

If you’ve been following our season you are aware that our win at the Dallas Regional qualified us to compete at the World Championship in Houston which was held over the course of four days (April 19-22) in Houston, TX, primarily at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Here’s a snapshot of the World Championship.  Each day at the competition we were busy from 5:30 (our typical wake up time) until lights out at 10:30 (or later).

Most of the team left school on Wednesday, April 19th, at 7 am.  A few went early to unload the robot, its tools, and equipment.  They left early enough to be in line at the Convention Center by 9 am for unloading!

On the way down to Houston, we stopped for a planned tour of Texas A&M, both the University and their robotics lab. Here’s a link to their lab.  A few students were allowed to drive a couple of their robots!

http://crasar.org

Finally we arrived to the Convention Center around 3 pm and set up our place in the stands. Students and mentors attended several meetings at the Championship conference. The meetings were centered around technology, sustainability of the team, and developing more diversity on the team. These meetings continued on Thursday and Friday.

On Wednesday, the robot was inspected. We also practiced and highly anticipated Thursday’s first four qualifying rounds.

Our first two matches (Thursday morning) were difficult.  The robot was under-performing and in need of a “tune up.”  The pit crew and drive team decided to replace the drive modules, our passive gear loader, and the climber winch.  It was a major overhaul completed in 3 hours.  During our next two matches, the robot and drive team performed at their peak and we just barely came up short, losing both of those matches.  By the end of the day Thursday, our match record was 0-4, and we were ranked as low at 62nd out of 67 teams.

Not deterred, the Robo Vikes came out blazing on Friday, winning all six matches in grand fashion and rocketed to 5th place, having been as high as 3rd place before the final matches of the day! (That’s why IMG_8514my hair was dyed blue!)

Friday night we stayed up late scouting the prospective teams to determine what our winning alliance would look like and who would likely be available for us to select.

Saturday began early.  We checked out of the hotel, went to prayer service, and arrived at our spot in the stands by 7:10 am.  During alliance selections, we chose from the best robots in the world.  Our alliance of four robots included three robots from Texas and one from Atlanta, Georgia.  Not entirely by coincidence, one of our alliance partners was the same as we had in San Antonio at the Alamo Regional.

Four robots were chosen to allow for the possibility of substitution because only three robots compete on each alliance.

We won the first two matches of the quarterfinal round and the first match of the semifinal round.  We lost the second match of the semifinals and to continue to the finals of our subdivision, we had to win the tie breaker match of the semifinals against the number one ranked alliance.  It was a close match and the result came down to the last second of the match.  Our alliance came up one gear short of the fourth rotor which would have secured our win.  If you are familiar with the game, the gear had been retrieved by the pilot, and was being place on the airship as time ran out.  That would have been 100 more points, enough to win.  So close!  Darn it.

As I reflect back on this season I can’t begin to tell you how proud I and all of the mentors are of this team.  The kids overcame so much to even qualify for the Championship and it has been a phenomenal season.  The team won a regional championship, reached the finals in another regional and won a prestigious Engineering Excellence Award.  All of this is on top of making our demobot and launching a newsletter and marketing campaign!

So to be invited to the World Championship and emerge as one of the best robots in the world is an amazing way to top off this milestone season. These young men and women deserve so much credit for this incredible season. In gratitude of myself and our mentors, please give them a hug and tell them how proud we are of them.  
Thank you for all your support.  Now it’s time to start getting ready for next year!

As you plan for next year, keep in mind that a generous donor has given us a $25,000 matching investment.  So, every dollar you donate is matched!  With our increased outreach activities, and longer competition schedule, this money will surely be appreciated in the long run.

Dr. ScheerIMG_0471