Infinite Recharge - 2020
Written By: Chairman's Team
12 years ago, Huskie Robotics was 5 pups with a passion; now we are a proud pack of 100+ Huskies striving to become future leaders and inspire hearts and minds through STEAM and FIRST.
Helping FIRST RISE
Building the Foundation with FLL
Over the past few years, we have started 32 FLL teams. This season alone, we partnered with our district to start 28 new FLL teams among its 14 grade schools with a $30,000 Amazon grant. To support the large number of local FLL teams, we provided mentoring for 10 teams over a collective 28 seasons. Since 2016, our student leaders have run and hosted a Double Qualifying FLL Tournament, engaging and creating leaders in STEAM. This year we ran a mock tournament for our 31 district teams, preparing rookie teams to join official FIRST tournaments in the future. To share our extensive FLL experience, Huskie Robotics created an FLL Coaches Clinic in 2013, assisting 150+ FLL teams. We believe that providing inspiration for young minds is key in creating the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.
Creating the Connection Beams with FTC
Thanks to our initiative, the FTC presence in our city has gone from nonexistent to a growing force. Through our outreach, the community FTC team 11392 Defenestration formed in 2017. Huskie Robotics works closely with 11392, providing mentors, volunteering at competitions, and partnering with them at outreach events. This year, the growth of FTC in our city was especially strong, with the formation of 2 rookie FTC teams. Supported by the Huskies, 11392 started a sister team, Team 16457 Deviation. Additionally, with our team’s backing, an international award-winning FLL team transitioned into FTC Team 16915 Salty Circuits. We gladly share our den with Salty Circuits, providing mentorship with CAD and 3D printing. By raising money through outreach camps with FTC 11392, we started FTC 15285 for underserved students.
Reaching For the Pinnacle with FRC
We initiated and led a partnership with Rich Township High School District 227 (D227), Governors State University, and National Society of Black Engineers to start an FRC team for the underserved and underrepresented students of D227. The most recent Illinois School Report Card shows that most D227 students come from underserved families, being 88% African American, with 86% receiving free or reduced lunch. The coalition was awarded a $25,000 grant from Motorola Solutions, funding rookie FRC Team 8160.
As part of our support for FRC 8160, we ran our first FRC summer clinic, sharing a 26-hour comprehensive overview of FRC with rookie FRC 8029 and 2nd year FRC 7608. 7608’s head coach described the experience as “truly motivational”. Thanks to our exponentially growing social media presence, our summer clinic resources have reached 5 rookie and 2nd year FRC teams from across the world including the Dominican Republic and Turkey.
Empowering Women in STEAM
Huskie Robotics believes in giving people of all backgrounds, experiences, and socioeconomic statuses the opportunity to work together to create something greater than any individual: something made stronger by unique ideas and values. We find these values reflected in the Sit With Me (SWM) campaign created by the National Center for Women & Informational Technology. Along with embracing diversity, we made the message our own by asking women in positions of influence to narrate their stories to the young girls looking to rise up and change the future, which we then shared through our social media.
We find our dedication to empowerment reflected in the 700% increase in female team members and leaders over only 4 years, as we work to dismantle the glass ceiling in STEAM; this year, 3 of our 4 captains are young women working to inspire and build up our community. As a result of our leadership, we’ve seen exponential growth in the number of girls on our team.
While we are committed to being student-run, Huskie Robotics appreciates the dedication and importance of our 22 coaches and mentors. As subject matter experts, they ensure that institutional knowledge and experience is transmitted by providing insight on advanced topics, and sharing project management and marketing strategies.
Our bonds with mentors extend beyond their time on the team. This year we held a special outreach event to visit a former mentor at a senior living center. Seeing the growth of our team reflected in our core values, technical knowledge, sheer size, and inclusivity, left him overjoyed and “talking about it for a week!”
This year a female FRC alumni became our newest Mechanical/Assembly mentor. Now we have yet another incredible figure to admire as more of our team finds themselves reflected in our mentors!
Huskies participate in a variety of outreach events every year, from STEAM nights and science fairs at district elementary schools to sponsor-held events. We are proud to promote STEAM and FIRST in our community. All members must volunteer at least 8 hours of outreach to attend competitions. This year, we went above and beyond, earning 1677 hours total, each member more than doubling the requirement!
Huskies have seen exponential growth in the number of lives impacted through our outreach. This year alone, we’ve reached over 10 times the number of hearts touched as compared to last year, for a grand total at over 118,000 individuals, many of which we reached through our student-organized feature on one of Chicago’s largest news channels, WGN.
Bridging Generations through Passion
After doing “a wonderful job with visitors” at a demo at the DuPage Children’s Museum, spreading STEAM and FIRST to 1,500+ young minds, we were invited back to be the feature of their weekly STEAM events. The museum is now one of our closest outreach partners, often receiving comments from visitors asking “if [our robot] was coming back to the Museum.”
Our partnership with our largest sponsor, Navistar, continues to grow. This year we mentored their staff in an inter-company LEGO Robotics competition. They also invited us to attend the reveal of their very first energy-powered school bus, as well as their annual STEM expo. Sponsors provide us with mentors and then ask for us to be their mentors, our positive influence has outreach hosts repeatedly reaching out to us year after year, and young students tell us stories of fun experiences with our team at previous events.
Our team’s structure is one of the key reasons for our success as a student-run team, upholding sustainability and leaving behind legacies. We are constantly recharging ourselves, pushing limits, and using previous failures and successes to improve our team.
Our annual “Keep, Fix, Try” (KFT) team-wide discussion is the root of our team’s growth. Similar to a SWOT analysis, the KFT allows us to reflect on past seasons in preparation for the next one. After one KFT, students proposed a leadership workshop for current and future team leaders. This workshop, run by our mentors, facilitates team goal setting, guides us through a team SWOT analysis, and teaches us concepts including servant leadership. Our team captains then ran a whole team leadership workshop based on insights gained.
Our team structure is composed of 3 main branches: business, robot, and strategy, each overseen by a captain. Each branch consists of subteams, each led by a student with strong leadership skills and technical skills in that area who is responsible for developing the skills of their subteam. In addition, we have organized our team to minimize communication issues and facilitate quick resolutions. Last year we successfully implemented a Team Project Manager to communicate among team leads and captains in all aspects of workflow. This year, we added Feature Project Managers for each aspect of the robot, resulting in even greater efficiency and communication. Each Feature Project Manager works across subteams to make sure each mechanism of our robot is successfully implemented from start to finish and all team members are engaged.
We’ve also implemented a support system known as “Big Sibling, Little Sibling,” in which each returning member can opt in to be a “Big Sibling,” while each new member is considered a “Little Sibling.” By creating this system in which an experienced member provides support to one or two new members, we are able to mitigate the overwhelming feeling that new members may face.
Leaving our Paw Prints
Using experiences gained as a part of the team, alumni have gained admission to prestigious colleges. Once there, they continued impacting their teams in engineering competitions including Solar Car, Formula SAE, and CubeSAT. Thanks to FIRST, our alumni are poised to become leaders in their fields and communities. The alumni's FIRST skills have been recognized through internships and job offers from Apple, SpaceX, NASA, Molex, Grid Connect, CERN, Tesla and Google. One of our alumni was even featured in Forbes 30 under 30 in the energy sector for Impossible Aerospace.
The importance of friendly competition is a constant theme among our team. We are proud to have won the Gracious Professionalism Award at the Midwest Regional 4 of the last 8 years, demonstrating our team’s internal culture of coopertition. At the past regionals, 3 software members spent hours teaching LabVIEW to students from FRC 4702, 10 students helped FRC 2725 build a cube collection system, and 3 students helped FRC 7237, get their drivetrain moving. However, Gracious Professionalism doesn’t end when a competition does. One of our many examples is our continued assistance to FRC 7237 by sharing information about our team structure, our scouting app, and a variety of technical skills.
This year our team has risen beyond our greatest expectations by starting a new FRC team in an underserved community in Chicagoland, witnessing the product of our efforts within the rapid growth of girls in STEAM, and helping initiate 28 new FLL teams in our community.