Meeting with Chris Bankers, Electrical Engineer

Showing Mr. Bankers components of our robot

Our robot has eight motors running at once and because of this, we ran into power issues where the robot can disconnect or read encoders wrong when too much power is drawn. We met with Chris Bankers, an electrical engineer, to get ideas to reduce battery consumption. We looked at the subsystems that draw the most current under operation. He told us that when the robot draws too much power, the battery can’t sustain the voltage, causing it to drop, which can cause encoder misreads. He told us that motors draw a lot of power when initially turning or stuck in position. This causes enough power to be sucked from other components, causing a misread of the motor encoders. From what Chris told us, this led us to suspect our lift system being one of the main power consumers on the robot. So we will focus on the lift to try to mitigate the problem. Overall, it was nice talking to Mr. Bankers and we learned a lot of new ideas and reasons behind the power draw of our robot. We will use the new information we learned to solve the power draw issues on our robot.

Promet Demo

Teaching Peter (Promet engineer) how to drive the robot while Jackie answers questions

We met with Peter Kadoulka and the engineers at Promet Optics to show them our robot and how much we’ve grown since our previous demo in 2019. The demo started with us giving an overview of the FTC program as well as what we do as a robotics team. We then showed the engineers this year’s game and what our robot can do. The engineers took turns driving our robot and we answered questions about the program such as how their kids can get involved, and many others. They took turns talking about their college experience and what they do at the company. Overall we had a lot of fun being able to see the company again and we look forward to seeing them at the State Championship.

AAE Tour and Demo

Show AAE engineers our robot (left) and Sonny looking at our wires and giving us advice (right)

We met with Sonny Sinarath and his coworkers at Air Automation Engineering (AAE) to show them our robot. After our demo, we talked to Sonny about ways to improve our cable wiring as our grabber wires would get caught in parts of our lift. He approved of our wiring box design which AAE had helped inspire two years ago. Sonny suggested we keep all the wires in one contained cable and pull it away from the lift where it could get tangled. He gave us some finger trap material, which covers and protects groups of wires, for our grabber wires. We have implemented a retractable wiring system that can pull the cable back because of Sonny’s suggestion.

Science Museum Tour

Talking to someone who worked in the Omnitheater

We met Mark Dahlager, the Vice President of Museum Experiences, at a previous demo at the Science Museum of Minnesota with Wrench Dressing and he invited us to tour the Science Museum’s exhibit shop. First, we went to the office space where exhibit ideas are discussed and designed. We met with some engineers who helped with various parts of the museum such as the Omnitheater and temporary exhibits. We learned about how they come up with ideas for exhibits and how they develop and prototype their designs. Then, we went down to the shop where most of their manufacturing is done. We met with several engineers who used a CNC router, 3D printers, and soldering to create exhibit parts. Two of the engineers we talked to actually competed on FRC teams in the past which was really cool to learn. Overall, it was really fun to see how exhibits are created at the Science Museum and how different engineers ended up working there!

Meeting with Dr. Julie Hui

Showing Dr. Julie our shell prototype 

We met with Dr. Juile Hui to show her our robot CAD. We walked her through this year’s season and the objectives our robot was built around. She liked what we had so far and gave us tips to enhance the design like stripes. It was suggested that we look to automobiles for design inspiration. It was interesting to learn about Julie’s career path, her studies, and how she’s an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. With the help of Julie, we learned about different places to get design inspiration from as well as design tips.

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.