Every year our local library hosts several “storytimes” where they read stories to kids in the community. This is our fourth time doing this demo, and we were excited to return again in person. We were able to demonstrate our robot to the kids and have it dance with them. We also let the kids drive our Skystone robot and pick up stones. We had a lot of fun, but sadly this will be the last time we can do this demo since our team will be graduating. We invited Potential Energy to shadow us and see the demo so that they can continue the library’s Robot Storytime in our place in future years.
Our team contacted the counselor of Biomedical Engineering (BME) Admissions at the University of Minnesota and we set up a zoom call to speak with her. Ms. Essig spoke about the general setup of both the BME and general engineering paths that the University had. She explained the class outline for someone majoring in BME and talked about what classes in the College of Science and Engineering look like. We asked her questions about research, classes, and job opportunities related to engineering. This meeting was very helpful for us as we are all preparing ourselves for college and two of our team members are planning on majoring in BME specifically. It was great to talk to Ms. Essig personally and she told us to ask if we have more questions about BME, engineering, or admissions.
One of the Trane employees showing us how the system works
We invited some of our mentee teams to tour a building automation company called TRANE Industries. During the tour, we learned how TRANE manufactures the printed circuit boards used in their building control systems. We got to see the machines they use to place the components onto the board as well as the machine that solders the parts onto it. In their testing room, they test new software and maintain old versions of their products so they are able to help their customers if a product breaks. Finally, we received a demonstration of their control systems in which they showed us how all the sensors, lights, doors, and HVAC systems work in conjunction with each other in a building. After touring their company, we told the employees at TRANE about FIRST and youth robotics as well as demonstrated our robot’s capabilities. They had the opportunity to drive our robot and many of them asked questions about it and our engineering notebook. Some of them were interested in getting involved so we encouraged them to volunteer at tournaments. We had lunch with some of the engineers at TRANE and they gave us lots of good advice for our future careers. The event was really fun and we would love to go back and learn more.
Showing the girls how to drive (left) and telling them about FIRST robotics (right)
Our team demoed at TRANE Industries and while setting up the event with the coordinator we found out that we would be there at the same time as a group of girls from Project Scientist. Project Scientist is a nonprofit organization that prepares girls for future careers in STEM. We offered to demo for the girls as well since we would already be set up to demo to the engineers from TRANE. The event worked out very well and we were happy to have the extra opportunity to show these girls FTC. A few of them even had some previous FIRST experience. We met the girls and gave them an overview of FIRST robotics and our team. They split up into three groups and got to drive a robot. Some of them drove Potential Energy’s or CIA’s robots as they were also demoing at TRANE with us. It was really exciting to see these young girls excited about robots and already passionate about STEM. The girls were super talented drivers and they were all able to collect and deposit freight with our robot. Everyone received a robot driver’s license and we’re so glad that we had the opportunity to demo to them.
Talking with the manufacturing companies and engineers at the conference
This event was a parts show for many manufacturing companies. Some of these manufacturing companies made parts such as custom circuit boards by woodcutting, laser cutting, and more. By going around and talking to many different engineers, we were able to learn a lot about different engineers. We learned about the processes that it takes to make different parts. It was very interesting to learn about all of the places that the various companies came from.
Taking a picture with the CSI engineers (left) and showing the CSI employees how to drive the robot (left)
Our team went to tour and demo the company Cardiovascular Systems Inc. (CSI). Three of the employees there gave us a tour of their manufacturing facilities. CSI primarily makes catheter controllers which are used in surgeries to remove calcified blockages in arteries. The head of the catheter is diamond coated and spins quickly which wears down the organic material blocking the artery. The employees explained the different parts of the tool and how they are made. We saw the catheter wire being woven and the head being soldered onto the tip. They even showed us the clean room where the final products are packaged and sterilized. Where there our team also presented tpo the engineers about the Freight Frenzy game, FIRST robotics, and our robot. We shared this so they had context for the design and purpose of our robot. The engineers were able to drive the robot around to see how it collects the Freight and moves with the triangular Kiwi Drivetrain. Many of them really enjoyed this and we gave them robot driver’s licenses for their achievement. We had a great time and our team members greatly appreciated seeing this part of the engineering field.
We presented to the employees of the company, Bind Benefits, and demonstrated our robot to the people there.
First, we gave them a presentation about youth robotics and the Freight Frenzy game. We explained how our robot works and detailed the programming specifically since we talked specifically with the engineers focusing on Bind’s website and app. We invited the engineers there to drive the robot and we answered their questions about youth robotics. We then received a tour of the company’s facilities and talked with some of the engineers at the demo. Since Bind is mostly focused on software we went more in-depth on the programming and computer vision portions of our robot when speaking with them. They were very nice and it was interesting to see the way that the company ran. Many of the employees work in Bulgaria so many of the attendees watched our presentation virtually.
Two of our members participated in a prosthetics workshop hosted by the company Form5 from Ohio. Our members were there to learn about the creation process of prosthetics. We got the chance to share what FIRST is and educate the volunteers on what we do as a robotics team. This workshop was spread across 3 days. On the first day, we learned about different limb injuries, the many kinds of prosthetics, and the history of prosthetics. The next 2 days were spent designing and prototyping a custom limb. Throughout the workshop we learned the process of creating a prosthetic limb for a client, rigging the movement of prosthetic parts, and advanced CAD techniques. It was really fun being able to work with other students from the FIRST community and we plan to reach out to Form5 to learn more about Fusion 360.
Kids driving the robot and picking up freight to deposit onto a Shipping Hub
Our team went to the Anthony Family Days and showed middle schoolers and their parents our robot. We had a partial field of Freight Frenzy set up and we let kids drive the robot to pick up the Freight and deposit it onto the Shipping Hub. They had a great time trying to line up the robot correctly to pick up the minerals. They also loved just driving the robot all over the field and seeing how it worked. We did this demo to try and get more kids at the middle school interested in joining FTC as well as other STEM related activities.
During the tour of FedTech, we learned the differences between using water jet cutters and laser cutters, the two types of cutting machines they use, and what effect they have on the materials. For water jet cutters, the water is mixed with garnet of a specific size, called abrasive, to help with cutting. The pressure is kept at 60,000psi by large pumps that are taken apart for maintenance daily because of the potential damage from the high pressure. The inside of the nozzle is shaped like a funnel to help prevent it from clogging, and the end of the nozzle is about the width of a hair. Water jet cutters can cut very thick material, while laser cutters are used for cutting much thinner sheets of stainless steel and hardening the edges of the cuts. Water jet cutting also prevents warping due to heat because the material is cut by the pressure and abrasive. It was a very interesting tour and we are in contact with FedTech to set up a demo.