Rapid React - 2022
Written By: Chairman's Team
14 years ago, Huskie Robotics was 5 pups with passion. Now, we stand as a proud pack of 100+ Huskies striving to become future leaders who inspire hearts & minds through our team culture, dedication to uplifting our community, & devotion to STEAM & our FIRST family.
Rapidly Reacting to COVID-19
Transitioning virtually, we held Zoom meetings with socially-distanced outdoor meetings to introduce new members to robotics, holding a scavenger hunt, a drive-in movie night, & weekly game nights to boost team bonds.
Even with limited interactions, we retained our team size. Our core goal: providing for our community. Last year, we 3D printed 1300+ face shields & 1000+ ear-savers for frontline workers & school staff, kept youth engaged in STEAM with engineering challenges & an FLL Camp, & empowered kids remotely, from crafting marshmallow catapults to coding LEGO robots.
Through our COVID-19 response, we assisted our community safely & effectively. Through TikTok, we connected with a Florida local & created a prosthetic hand for him to play trumpet. The student-led project taught new members prototyping, 3-D design, CAD, & assembly for real-life use. And we went global with outreach, distributing EKG kits to low-income medical schools.
This year, reentering an in-person environment, with many of our peers never experiencing a "normal" season of robotics, we emphasized the value of connectivity through implementing support systems. Through adding weekly theme days & our Big/Little Sibling infrastructure we ensured inclusivity, growth, & peer mentorship- spurring community amongst our team & personal responsibility leadership.
We encouraged progress of new member technical skills through Subteam Outreach Projects. Functional play promotes the development of motor skills & independence; Huskie Robotics joined an initiative started by the University of Washington to specialize robotic plush toys for children with disabilities. Our electrical subteam modified these toys with a special adaptive switch: at the push of a large button, our HuskieADAPT toys sing & dance.
As a student-run team, our team structure is key to our success, upholding sustainability & leaving legacies. Our team is composed of 3 main branches, overseen by 3 Captains: Business, Robot, & Strategy– each composed of multiple sub-teams, individually led by a student lead who primarily develops subteam skills through strong leadership & technical guidance. A Team Project Manager holistically communicates across Team Leads & Captains, guiding Feature Project Managers (FPMs). FPMs work across subteams, ensuring each mechanism of our robot is successfully implemented with all members engaged. This year, with roles of Social Media Manager, Systems Integration Specialist, Materials Manager, & Co-Leads, we’ve specialized to our team’s unique needs, skill sets, & members.
We use previous failures & successes to power our team. For example, continuous & end-of-season “Keep, Fix, Try” (KFT) team-wide discussions allow us to reflect & improve. Through one KFT, we began annual leadership workshop series for current & future team leaders. Guided by mentors, students learn servant leadership, crucial conversations, & risk/project management. Functioning as a mini-engineering company, we remain organized, using Scrum & Agile processes to divide our 8-week build season into sprints & efficiently accomplish our goals.
Huskie Robotics is not just a robotics team, but also a family. With mental health as a priority, our team unites & builds resilience through a supportive system of leisure activities, member check-ins, & promotion of self-care. Student Leads promote balance, sending reminders to prioritize mental well-being over robotics, while adapting meetings to members' energy levels. With our dinners, we ensure time to rewind & build community while dining together.
Learning from Huskie Guides
Huskie Robotics, committed to being student run, is supported by the dedication & impact of our 17 mentors. As subject-matter experts, they ensure transmission of institutional knowledge & experience, provide insight on advanced topics, & share project management & marketing strategies. Our mentors prompt us to reflect on our obstacles- questioning & guiding us instead of directly giving us solutions.
A mentor helped one of our students recognize a passion for mechanical engineering & helped introduce him to his college. Per Jacob Oblazny, a junior at Rose-Hulman, “I wouldn't have learned this without the support of mentors allowing me to make mistakes & then helping walk me through how I could improve.”
Leaving our Paw Prints
Through experiences on the team, alumni have received FIRST scholarships & gained admission to prestigious colleges. Alumni give back, volunteering at FIRST competitions, even starting rookie FRC Team 8808 in Louisiana. Thanks to FIRST, a vast majority pursue STEM majors, poised to be leaders in their fields & communities. Alumnus’ FIRST skills have been recognized through internships & job offers from JPL, Boeing, Collins Aerospace, SpaceX, Molex, Apple, NASA, Grid Connect, Microsoft, Caterpillar, & Tesla.
Huskies participate in a variety of outreach events with our sponsors, school district, & community, proudly promoting STEAM & FIRST. All members must volunteer 8 hours but many go above, resulting in 3600+ outreach hours over the past 3 years!
Huskies have seen exponential growth in our impact. Across 3 years, we’ve reached 200K+ people thanks to student initiative & coordination. Our true measure of impact is sparkling eyes & delighted smiles.
Increasing Inclusion in STEAM
Huskie Robotics supports individuals of all backgrounds & experiences as diversity creates something greater. We find this in the NCWIT Sit With Me campaign. We find dedication to empowerment, reflected in a 35% increase in women on our team & over 50% female leadership across 3 years, shattering the glass ceiling in STEAM. Embracing diversity, we made the message our own. After our semester-long Meadow Glens Girls in STEM mentorship, Mrs. Nofke, a founder of the club, remarked “they often shy away, but for them to see you step up, inspired them to be leaders as well, it’s been an amazing experience!”
Last season, we gave first-time KoP supplier, Molex, feedback as they developed components. This season, we won the Leadership Award in KLA’s annual RoboGames.
Chris Berg, the Public Programs Manager at DuPage Children’s Museum, shared “when they see kids in their own community participating in some advanced robotics competitions, they get inspired.” Partnering with the museum, we spread STEAM & FIRST to 1500+ young minds with repeated events.
Maintaining engagement in extended communities, we taught a 4-week elementary-level virtual STEAM camp with demos & at-home activities at Governors State University.
Our positive influence generates close outreach partners who reach out repeatedly, resulting in 3100+ people impacted over the last 2 years.
As passionate advocates for FIRST, we believe inspiring young minds is key to creating leaders & innovators of tomorrow. Our mission is to spread STEAM by starting & mentoring robotics teams.
We partnered with our school district to start 28 new FLL teams among 14 schools with a multi-year $40,000 Amazon grant. To support local FLL teams, we provided mentoring for 11 teams over 28 collective seasons & since 2016, have hosted & run an FLL Qualifier. Huskie Robotics created an annual FLL Coaches Clinic in 2013 to share our extensive FLL experience, assisting 150+ FLL teams over 9 years. This year, we provided feedback to FLL Team 53354, helping them advance to state. We mentored All Saints Academy’s rookie FLL Team weekly for 3 months, familiarizing them with FIRST.
FTC presence in our city has grown to a powerful force. Through outreach, community FTC team 11392 formed in 2017. Huskie Robotics works closely with them, providing mentors, volunteering at competitions, & partnering at events. Supported by Huskies, they started sister FTC team 16457. Raising money through robot camps with FTC 11392, we also started FTC 15285 for underserved students. In the past with FTC Team 16915, & this year with FTC Team 19379, we provided mentorship and resources with CAD & 3D printing.
We initiated & led a partnership with Rich Township High School District 227 (D227), Governors State University, & the National Society of Black Engineers to start an FRC team for underrepresented students of D227. The coalition was awarded a $25,000 grant from Motorola Solutions, funding FRC Team 8160.
We shared a 26-hour review of FRC with 8160 & others. A head coach described the experience as “truly motivational”. We assisted 5 rookie & 2nd year FRC teams worldwide by publishing our summer clinic resources on social media. We continue to support teams, sharing training videos to develop technical & managerial expertise.
Gracious Professionalism & Coopertition
We are proud to have won the Gracious Professionalism Award at the Midwest Regional 4 of the last 10 years. Beyond regionals, one of many instances of continued assistance is our mentorship of FRC 7237, visiting them to share our team structure, scouting app, & technical skills. Sharing our team's tech with others, we recently released SPOT, an open-source, modular scouting app platform upon which teams can deploy scouting apps with no prior experience or extend for their own custom specifications.
Huskie Robotics fully embraces the FIRST ethos, having made a deep impact on multiple levels. After 14 years of passion, hard work, & love, we are leaping higher than ever before. We stand for diversity, inclusion, & sustainability. We are coopertition & gracious professionalism, innovators & believers. We are Huskie Robotics.