Meeting with Zeus

Discussing the robot with Bob and Duane

We met with Bob and Duane, two of the engineers from Zeus Electric Chassis. When we were meeting with them, we voiced our concerns about our robot tipping over when the lift is extended. They suggested that we use Matlab to calculate the center of gravity so we can anticipate if it will tip. We discussed how to keep our drivetrain stable and prevent it from cantilevering. One of their recommendations for this was to connect tension lines to the tops of the motors to prevent them from moving. We also explained our prototype of the swerve pod and our issues with finding the best way to attach it to the drivetrain. They are going to put us in contact with a company that specializes in creating bearings. Hopefully, they will be able to help us find an attachment solution. Besides giving us feedback on our robot design, they also gave us lots of general life advice. They suggested that we come over to their company sometime to talk to their engineers. Overall, they were super helpful and we hope to see them again soon.

Boston Scientific Maple Grove Tour

Boston Scientific Weaver Lake Phase III Expansion | Kraus-Anderson

Our team met with Mr. Maves, a machine vision engineer, to learn about his work at Boston Scientific and what engineers do at the facility. He showed us the machine vision that he and his colleague were working on which was being used to speed up and ease the process of manufacturing parts. They would use a high-quality camera to detect any flaws and create a visual model of the part. This visual model will be displayed on a computer to be used for making small adjustments. He then showed us all of the manufacturing parts of the facility and how machine vision was or is planned on being used in manufacturing. We also toured the part of the building with mock operating rooms where doctors are trained to use Boston Scientific’s products on a patient. Finally, we met with a couple more engineers who work on machine vision in a very similar way to Mr. Maves. Overall, it was really exciting to see all of the different manufacturing processes for tools made at Boston Scientific and how machine vision is being utilized in the real world.

Meeting with Mr. Nichols

Henry showing Mr. Nichols our code

After showing Mr. Nichols our robot and game, his main suggestion was to try experimenting with LIDAR and similar sensors to track the robot’s position. He sent us a few sensors we could purchase online and suggested we try them, but we found that the most interesting one, a 2D spinning LIDAR sensor, was unfortunately illegal in FTC. He was very excited about FTC and we suggested he volunteer to become more involved. We will continue to work with him on solving different software systems as well as to get specific sensor recommendations in the future.

Recon Robotics Tour and Class


Soldering the crab robot (left) and posing with Cosmics next to the iterations of Recon’s robots (right) 

Our team joined two members of Coding the Cosmics for a tour of Recon Robotics. Recon Robotics makes durable and mobile scouting robots that can access dangerous areas humans can’t. They make these robots for the police and military and they explained their extensive testing process and design iterations. The robots have a camera and other features that make them useful. It’s incredibly well built, being able to be shot out of a potato cannon and survive while weighing only 1.3 pounds. The Cosmics had invited us to attend a soldering class with them at Recon so we also learned some soldering skills while making a crab robot from a kit. We really enjoyed learning about Recon’s cool robots and practicing soldering with the Cosmics. It was super fun and we want to return to give the company a robot demo.

Boston Scientific Arden Hills Tour

Seeing the history of the pacemaker (left) and learning about the pugh matrix (right)

Our team met with Boston Scientific engineers and learned about the medical devices they manufacture as well as the processes they use when creating new technology. We had a Q&A session with the engineers asking them questions about their careers, what they studied in college, and the ways they tackle challenges in their jobs. It was really interesting to learn that some of the elements we are learning in FTC can be found in the real world. They also gave us important strategy advice like using integration events, where we put everything together to see how it works. While talking with the experts they introduced us to the concept of a pugh matrix. This is a way to evaluate systems and rate them to see the best options. We also learned about the role of a Systems Engineer and their importance in managing the timeline of different systems before becoming the final product. Later on, Mr. Taher, an electrical engineer, gave us a tour of their huge facility. He showed us how the pacemaker was developed over the decades and how each iteration surpassed the previous. Overall, we learned a lot about the medical technologies field and how their engineering teams work. We look forward to incorporating methodologies like the integration events, the Pugh Matrix, and Systems Engineer role into our team’s season.

Biomedical Engineering Admissions Meeting

Speaking with Ms. Essig over Zoom

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.

TRANE Industries Tour and Demo

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.

Design-2-Parts Conference

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.

CSI Demo and Tour

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.

Bind Tour and Demo

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.