Power Up - 2018
Written By: Chairman's Team
Huskie Robotics thinks, works and grows as a pack. In 10 years, we have expanded from a club of just 6 members to a pack of 100 members, 20 mentors and 11 sponsors. To produce a successful team, individual Huskies must be trained and nurtured so they are ready to compete. Like our namesakes, we are pack-minded, knowledgeable, supportive, outgoing and determined.
Team 3061 recognizes that teamwork is essential for success. The pack is led by 4 student executives: Captain, Chief Robot Designer, Director of Outreach and Communications, and Drive Team Coach. Together they oversee the 8 subteam leads who manage their respective disciplines. While the leads may be the top dogs, these alphas encourage cohesion through
open communication and transparency. Huskies collaborate and stay informed through many digital mediums.
For Kickoff, we gather as a team with members, mentors and alumni. We brainstorm, conduct small group discussions and distill our ideas into the game strategy. This is followed by a similar process for robot design, where groups discuss potential designs and create & test prototypes. Ideas from all members are explored allowing the perspective of both rookies and veterans to be combined into a balanced plan.
Mentors and coaches are an integral part of the team. They conduct design reviews of complicated systems and provide instruction on advanced topics (e.g. control system theory). From one year to the next, our coaches and mentors ensure that we learn and build upon our knowledge together through our “Keep, Fix, Try” meeting at the end of each season where we reflect as a team to prepare for the following season.
Huskies learn the technical and professional skills needed to succeed in FRC and beyond. During preseason, we strengthen our leaders so they can develop the rest of our team. We run a leadership workshop to set season goals, discuss the qualities of an effective leader and learn teaching philosophies such as the EDGE method & servant leadership. Those philosophies then help us strengthen our team and teach others new skills.
This year, over 75 members went through subteam training over the course of 10 weeks. In November, members joined the subteam of their choice, and discipline leads began in-depth training for their subteam so that all members would be ready for Kickoff.
Throughout build season, leadership skills are continually fostered by coaches and mentors, who encourage all members to take on new responsibilities. Huskies gain confidence and experience by progressing through layers of team management, from overseeing a single project to eventually becoming a team lead.
Using experiences and skills gained from being a part of the team, alumni have gained admission to prestigious colleges such as Harvard, MIT, Michigan, Cornell, Northwestern and Columbia. Once there, they have impacted their teams in engineering competitions including Solar Car and Formula SAE. The alumni’s FIRST skills are recognized by others through internships and job offers from Apple, SpaceX, NASA, Molex, Grid Connect, CERN, Tesla and Google.
We understand that FIRST is not about the trophy, it is about the journey. In 2015, a group of ambitious sophomores kept a tally of how many teams each person assisted at the Midwest Regional. From fixing chain to debugging robot code, the Huskies helped over 15 teams. It is through this friendly competition that we grow, learn and inspire ourselves and other teams.
Our team has a tradition of living out the values of FIRST. At the 2016 FIRST World Championship, an alum won the Dean’s List Award for his dedication to FIRST. We are also proud to have won the Gracious Professionalism Award at the Midwest Regional 2 of the last 5 years, which shows the internal culture of coopertition that our team fosters. While our efforts in the past have been informal, we now have a Gracious Professionalism lead whose job involves organizing members to best help other teams at competition. This also includes putting together a reference sheet on the expertise of individual team members, building up confidence and setting expectations for newer members when helping other teams.
Our team has shared resources and experiences with a variety of FIRST teams in our area. This year, we held a workshop for FRC Team 3488 and FTC Team 13530. We explained how our team operates, discussed challenges we have faced, and shared resources like our robot code and vision library. Our team connected FRC Team 2704 Roaring Robotics with a new build space and team members. Via email, we helped rookie FRC Team 7237 from the Universal School of Chicago by sharing information about our team structure. We hope to continue to foster this attitude of selflessness throughout build season, competitions and in our everyday lives.
A Huskie is active both on the team and in their community. We believe every student should be able to experience FIRST, regardless of whether or not they become a Huskie. Through a variety of FIRST events and outreach activities, our team spreads the mission and values of FIRST to our community. Over the past 6 years, Huskie Robotics has developed a comprehensive program to create and assist FLL teams. Our program includes the following annual events:
In May, we organize a “How to Get Started in FLL” Info Session. Started in 2015, this event encourages parents and students to start new teams by providing information on registration, budgeting and team logistics. Over the past 5 years, we have started 18 FLL teams. In 2015 we provided $2000 in grants to a district elementary school to start 4 FLL teams.
In June, we run an “Intro to STEM” Summer Camp to get junior high school students interested in FLL. Huskie Robotics members used FLL challenges to introduce kids to design, programming and teamwork. 32 students attended the summer camp, which sold out in less than a day.
In September, we run an “FLL New Coach Clinic” which teaches coaches and kids about team management, core values, project research, programming, robot design and strategy. 120+ FLL teams have attended or have been started since the clinic’s inception in 2013. We have helped other FRC teams start their own clinics by sharing our workshop materials and providing other support to presenters and teams throughout Illinois (including FTC 7129, FRC 5847 and FLL 7075). We have also created a website with our materials for teams to reference during the season. Throughout the years we have received hundreds of positive comments from various attendees. One rookie coach even commented, “I was so very impressed with the level of training available… It was amazing… [My co-coach and I] both walked away that day thinking, OK we COULD do this.” They went on to win at State.
Throughout the FLL season we focus on mentoring teams in our community. Since 2012, we have mentored 16 different teams. One team mentor cited that the most rewarding part of his experience was “helping out the next group of young kids and giving them the opportunities that I was fortunate to have when I was their age.”
The most exciting part of the program is definitely our FLL Double Qualifying Tournament, which is run each December since 2015, mainly because it provides us the opportunity to see how the teams who attended the Coaches Clinic have grown. We host and run a live-streamed, 32 team tournament and this year we had over 80 students volunteer 400+ hours to make this event possible. One of the robot referees, Stephan Meehan, commented, “The leadership and willingness to do whatever needed doing was very clear, and made the day such a success.”
The last part of our program is the Open House. Each February since 2013, we host this event to show our community the FRC experience. There are 2 sessions: the day session is for local FLL teams to encourage them to continue in FIRST, and the evening session is for school administrators and corporate partners to emphasize the value of the program. Huskies talk about game strategy, design process, robot subsystems and outreach to promote FIRST throughout the community.
Through these events, we have helped spread FIRST and FLL to over 1000 students since 2012.
Huskies also participate in a variety of outreach events throughout the year. From STEM Nights and science fairs at district elementary schools to sponsor-held events, Team 3061 is proud to promote STEM and FIRST. This year alone, we participated in 21 events, inspiring over 10,000 people throughout our community. At these events, members showed off the robot, talked to interested parents about FIRST and what it offers, and inspired thousands of young students to get involved in STEM.
Some other notable events we attended were Barnes & Noble’s Maker Faire (200+ attendees), NIU’s STEMfest (3000+), the Wheaton STEM Expo (1100+), Boy Scouts’ STEM-o-Rama (3000+) and NAACP STEAM Camp (300+). Huskies have logged 1100+ hours of service from these events alone.
Many of our members have also been involved in individual service activities and are in leadership positions outside of FRC. For the last 2 summers, team members and alumni have taught a robotics summer camp through the Rainbow Push Coalition for inner city students in Chicago. One member runs his own science and robotics clubs at a local center, and many are leaders in other organizations such as GEMS, Naperville Public Library, Peer Tutoring, LINK, National Honor Society and many more. The school administration calls upon our members to represent the student body at various forums.
We Huskies are never satisfied. Whether on our FRC team or in our other activities; from orchestra to karate, chess to Irish dance, bass fishing to DECA; we are constantly looking for ways to run faster, work harder and become stronger. In doing so, we aim to sustain the team well into its future and spread FIRST into our ever-expanding community. Our pack is strong, fast and unstoppable!