Mentor Chris MaGee Wins Chamber of Commerce Award

Chris MageeCongratulations to Chris MaGee on being awarded the “Individual Business Catalyst of the Year” at the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Manufacturing on March 20, 2014.

The team’s students and mentors have always appreciated Chris’s dedication and in promoting STEM education and robotics programs. It is great to see the Rockford Community recognize her contributions.

You can read more about Chris and this award in the March 21, 2014 Rockford Register Star article.

Rockford Robotics is a Central Illinois Regional Finalist

2014 Central Illinois RegionalRockford Robotics spent February 27 – March 1 in Pekin IL competing at the Central Illinois Regional. This first time regional competition hosted 40 robotics teams from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.

After twelve qualifying matches, Rockford Robotics was ranked 17. The 7th seeded team, Cheese Curd Herd (Platteville, WI) invited Mars Wars (Metamora, IL) and us to join them. This Alliance finished second after a hard fought battle with the number one seeded alliance comprised of Team Titanium from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Trident Robotics from Gurnee, Illinois and Swartdogs from Cedar Falls, Iowa. The competition announcer compared Rockford Robotics’ come back battle through the quarter and semi finals as a Cinderella story after their alliance defeated higher ranked teams.

We look forward to applying the lessons learned in Peking at the Wisconsin Regional, March 20 – 22, 2014.

Our success at the Central Illinois Regional would not have been possible without the support of our families, sponsors, and local community. Thank you all.

Two Rockford Teams Win FIRST Tech Challenge Regional Awards

Our FIRST Tech Challenge Team, RoboTech 8003 won the CONNECT award at the Batavia Regional.  Winners of the Connect Award have done a great deal of community outreach not only to spread the word about FIRST but specifically to include engineers, scientists, and other technology professionals into their outreach efforts. This creates connections between teams, FIRST, and the professional world that can last years beyond their participation in FTC. Connect Award winners also develop and execute plans to fund their team including clear goals and objectives – including how they can give back to their community in the future. Here is what the judges had to say about our team: This Northern Illinois team has organized itself as a formal association and as a result will be enabled to connect to every school in its community through its district. Their robot was born on Mount Olympus. It is named after Apollo’s twin sister.

Congratulations also to M-Fusion, a local home based team, who won the PTC Design Award.  The intent of this award is to expand the challenge, inspiring teams to incorporate industrial design into their robots. These elements can be shown in the simplicity of the design as it applies to the tasks, the look and feel of the robot, and how the design allows us to think of robots in new ways. The Design aspects must serve a function – but they should also differentiate the robot in a unique fashion – not an easy task with a limited set of parts and game challenge. Here is what the judges had to say about M-Fusion: For the design award we had to think hard about our candidates. Their knowledge of CAD software made us googly eyed. When this team could not find off the shelf components to suit their robots needs they printed them instead.

M-Fusion also qualified to compete in the State Championship on February 22 at Illinois Institute of Technology.

2014 Build Season Update: Week 5 Activities

Rockford Robotics has completed construction of our 2014 ‘bot.  We will “bag and tag” the ‘bot on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Then it is hands off  until we compete in the Central Illinois Regional, Feb. 27 – Mar. 1 and the Wisconsin Regional, Mar. 20 -22, 2014

ON-NOM, the Devourer, is a quick moving offensive robot with low center of gravity. It as  good passing and catching skills as well as being a reliable and accurate shooter. Our goal is to work with alliance partners to maximize the score through assists.

2014 Build Season Update: Week 4 Activities

In week four, we will mount the pick-up system and finish wiring the robot. Then we will have two weeks to optimize the autonomous program and for the drive team to practice.
Students continued robot design and build tasks.

The mechanical team has just about completed the robot construction. Only task left is to mount our ball pick up system onto the drive train.

The electronics/programming team:

      • Created a wiring diagram
      • Wired the entire robot. This includes nine motors and their associated controllers and the air compressor.
      • created a systems document that detailed electrical and  programming needs.

The media team filmed a video promoting the team that we will use as part of our Chairman’s Award application

In week five, we hope to complete our electrical and programming integration and then start practicing for competition

2014 Build Season Update: Week 3 Activities

During Build Season Week Three, we continued robot build tasks. The mechanical team students:

      • Assembled the drive train, including mounting wheels, gearboxes, chains, and bumpers.
      • Completed construction of the catapult and mounted it on the drive train.
      • Completed a kinematics study to determine the optimal length and pivot point for the ball pick-up roller arm.
      • Machined the intake roller structure.

The electronics team started to lock down programming requirements. They also designed electronic mounting plates and began their manufacture.

In week four, we will mount the pick-up system and finish wiring the robot. Then we will have two weeks to optimize the autonomous program and for the drive team to practice.

2014 Build Season Update: Week 2 Activities

During the Build Season Week Two, students built a wooden prototype of the robot. They used it to test and refine robot design parameters. After testing was complete, the mechanical sub-team used CAD software to draw the drive train, ball pick-up system, and shooter.

Local companies are helping with tasks we are unable to perform at our ‘bot shop. Superior Joining Technologies is welding our frame. Woodward is machining insert for pickup rollers. On Tuesday, Jan. 21, a student group will meet with GE Aviation engineers for a design review.

Students are also working on other build tasks including making robot bumpers and assembling gear boxes.

The Media Team completed design of t-shirts and promotional buttons. They also are working on a video that will be used to introduce the team to the Central Illinois Regional Competition.

Lastly, a student group put together a test for robot drivers.

2014 Build Season Update: Week 1 Activities

Aerial Assist requires we build a robot that can pick up balls from the field, pass them from one robot to another, and shoot them into a goal. We get extra points for working with alliance partners to move the ball from robot to robot before attempting to score.
To address these challenges, our plan is to use a catapult for shooting the ball into the goal and a roller system to pick up balls from the field. We will also use the catapult to pass the ball between robots.

During the first week of build season:

      • The mechanical sub-team has been working on CAD (Computer Aided Design) for the pickup system and drive train.
      • The media team is working on our Chairman’s Award application. They are also designing a lamp — using the US FIRST e-watt bulb — for a Central Illinois Regional challenge.
      • Parents are helping build a practice field.
      • And some students are restoring older bots to use during our driver competition.

2014 Build Season Update: Kick-off

Team 2039 launched its 2014 build season with a kick-off meeting at Eigerlab. In the morning, students and mentors watched the kickoff ceremonies that introduced this year’s game: Aerial Assist.

After receiving the game information, the team broke into smaller groups to discuss strategy and robot design.

After a lunch break, we did a human walk through of the game. Students acted robots, drivers, and game pieces. This helped us learn competition rules, scoring, and game play.

Parents joined in by planning construction of a playing field which we will use to test our robot design and practice our driving skills.

2014 Build Season Update: About the Game

AerialAssist_RGBAERIAL ASSIST is played by two competing Alliances of three Robots each on a flat 25’ x 54’ foot field, straddled by a lighting truss suspended just over five feet above the floor. The objective is to score as many balls in goals as possible during a 2 minute and 30 second match. The more Alliances score their ball in their goals, and the more they work together to do it, the more points their alliance receives.

The match begins with one 10-second Autonomous Period in which robots operate independently of driver. Each robot may begin with a ball and attempt to score it in a goal. Alliances earn bonus points for scoring balls in this mode and for any of their robots that move in to their zones. Additionally, each high/low pair of goals will be designated “hot” for five seconds, but the order of which side is first is randomized. For each ball scored in a “hot” goal, the Alliance earns additional bonus points.

For the rest of the match, drivers remotely control robots from behind a protective wall. Once all balls in autonomous are scored, only one ball is re-entered in to play, and the Alliances must cycle a single ball as many times as possible for the remainder of the match. With the single ball, they try to maximize their points earned by throwing balls over the truss, catching balls launched over the truss, and scoring in the high and low goals on the far side of the field.

Alliances receive large bonuses for “assists,” which are earned for each robot that has possession of the ball in a zone as the ball moves down the field.