Ultimate Ascent - 2013
Written By: Cari C.
Five years ago we were a team of six students and teachers, with an angle-iron robot and a cardboard pit. A lot has changed in five years. We have learned about successes and failures, confidence and community, courage and innovation. Team 3061 has become a community of impassioned experts and students that design, CAD, build, and program like they’re doing exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Perhaps the most valuable lesson we’ve learned is that we need each and every one of these brilliant minds inventing in sync. No longer are we a few individuals with ideas and a dream; we, Huskie Robotics, are united students that join our team spend their first year experimenting in any or all aspects of robot design, then return with a specialized area of interest. Veteran members that have become masters in their realm of the build process lead mechanical, electrical, programming, and marketing teams, diffusing knowledge and techniques to the students following their lead. Our members have many diverse interests and specialties, and we find we can best harness this array of talent by focusing completely on one area of the robot. As the season progresses, the workload for any given system will fluctuate, so the members’ position on the team is open to opportunity. When everyone is devoting time and efforts towards something they love or something that they want to know more about, we get the best out of everyone. To further encourage this dedication, the team leads recognize extraordinary participation with a ‘Star of the Week’ award to an individual from any discipline of the team each week. These sub-teams work in parallel and collaborate on every impactful decision regarding final robot design. We have the power of undivided focus, but also the strength of collaboration. Even though we individualize our goals, we achieve them together. Our team has realized its unified dynamic through our culture as a community. We came together with the intention to build a robot, but through six-hour work days and never ending parades of problems, we’ve grown to be an actual team. The team leads never stop texting and emailing to prepare new objectives or overcome current inconsistencies even as the moon grows full and the clock resets itself to the next day. Members working on projects or developing prototypes always work with others. There is always another set of hands or a different perspective to be put to use for any task. Every opinion is heard and considered; every member is valued as another crucial part of our team. Huskie Robotics is comprised of friends, of people that like and respect each other. We sit down every night halfway into our build session and share a meal while our leaders give projections and updates on their endeavors. We connect fundamentally for a love of science and engineering, and we share our lives over five-dollar pizzas and the occasional cookies. We eat together, build together, think together, and dream together every time we meet. Although our culture is very much student directed, our mentors bridge any gaps we may have in understanding or communication. The mentors of Team 3061 love FIRST just as much as any given member. They are our most invaluable resources as we continuously search for the most elegant and practical solution. Our mentors teach us how to apply the knowledge base that we as students accumulate, and provide real-world examples of the mechanisms we innovate. As we battled belts for the first time in our drive train, our mentor, the king of pulleys, guided us from tensioners to teeth, and always put idlers in their place. We’re fortunate with our mentors as they accept and function within the culture of a team. They do not assert their opinions over students, but rather establish working relationships that build off ideas to create the most comprehensive, feasible solutions. Our mentors unify us with their wisdom and experience that bring our team closer to conceptualization and fabrication. The connections we establish extended beyond the individuals that spend thirty hours a week covered in saw dust and pumping the drill press. Our growth as a team has included more involved outreach and communication. The enthusiasm that was induced through the influx of new members last year has boosted our confidence and excitement, and we’ve been more able to take part of special events. As a FIRST Robotics team, it is our mission to inspire the love and acceptance of STEM in popular culture, and our events have focused around this purpose. We reach out to Boy Scouts en route to new merit badges, young women in GEMS aspiring to find a future in the realm of science, elementary students at school events and rising high school freshman already formulating how they will change the world. Our most influential involvement new to this season was our mentorship with FLL Team 250 Techno Trojans. In working with community members outside our team, be it grandparents or toddlers, creative writing majors or electrical engineers, we’ve learned the importance of collaborative thinking. While we were talking of torque and circumference, the nine-year-olds we guided taught us how to think without limitations. And we see in our outreach what we see in our team, as a unified front, we can see problems from all different perspectives and embark on solutions that one person alone could never conceive. We challenge our community to be involved in the ongoing discussion of our future in science with every grouping of people we engage. From our team’s energy and accomplishments, we’ve established a name for our team within our community. Lucy, the Rebound Rumble robot, has become a bit of a local celebrity even, appearing in hallway banners and school carnivals and assemblies after her remarkable performance at the Midwest Regional. Our gracious sponsor, Navistar, invited us to speak at their community open house to unveil their new corporate headquarters, where we thanked all the conductors of activity in Naperville for their support. All of our sponsors have offered us visits and tours of manufacturing plants and headquarters, where members gaze starry-eyed at the future of their careers. Along with our sponsors, we network to other FRC teams, parents, school administrators, and fans through our website blog and twitter. The support we receive illustrates such loyalty, and it affirms our efforts and devotion towards the purpose of FIRST. Amazingly, we’ve even had an offer for sponsorship with Grid Connect via a tweet. As we advance through the season, it is our pleasure to inform fellow Huskies of our progress. Be it through dinner meetings or city announcements, we stand together – as a team – every step of the way. Our unity is the foundation of our success in FRC. The maturation we’ve undergone in five years has taught us how to be purposeful, effective, and congruent as we work through the season. And this has led us to realize how essential every one of our members is. On our team there are jazz musicians, physicists, writers, and readers. For each problem we encounter or goal to accomplish, we have a hundred different ways to look at it, and over seventy curious minds wanting to learn a new skill. With this unity, we take on all facets of competition, and make Huskie Robotics a force to be reckoned and cooperated with. With this unity, we excite those we meet about science, engineering, and its future implications. With this unity, we inspire teammates, corporations, and inquisitive young minds. With this unity, we are a FIRST Robotics team.