FALL TEAM UPDATE (2020-21)
Written and compiled by Vivian Benishek
Welcome to our 2021 newsletter! We will be publishing one of these every few weeks to give updates about the W.A.R. Lords. Prior to the pandemic, our team relied on weekly, in-person team and department meetings to discuss important tasks in an open and friendly environment. Faced by a rapidly changing landscape, Team 2485 has been strategizing creatively in order to address these challenges by conforming to an online setting. Over the past couple months, it is evident that our team took the global pandemic as a chance to change for the better.
WELCOMING NEW STUDENTS
For the 2020-21 season, we are proud to report 32 new members on our team, with a grand total of 80 students. Since early September, we have been working hard to train all of our students through virtual 101s and making them feel right at home. For instance, our design department has welcomed around ten newbies who have been progressing through our edifying training curriculum. The most advanced of this group went from knowing nothing to focusing on the practical design progress and designing adjustable flywheel shooters. Our team members have been motivating each other to stay focused and productive during these challenging times and help our new members feel comfortable in the process. The goal is to not allow the challenges brought on by the pandemic to stand in our way of reaching our fullest potential.
VIRTUAL FIRST CHALLENGE & SOFTWARE UPDATE
Revisions to our 2020 robot Artemis are an ongoing process and we are currently in the planning phases regarding the recently announced Innovation and Game Design virtual challenges. In fact, our software department has been hard at work over the past few weeks sharpening and applying their skills to fit the requirement of this new, unusual FIRST competition. Their virtual training has continued, with trainees achieving qualifications in Java programming, robot code skills and control systems theory. The electrical group has been running fun and successful at-home, hands-on wiring training for students from many different departments. They have also continued working on projects to improve our codebase and electrical system. Finally, the software team is eagerly preparing for Hackathon, an intense 12-hour collaborative coding W.A.R. Lords’ event, to be hosted on Saturday, November 21st. This year’s theme is “Pass it On,” which they hope will inspire a sense of community and teamwork even further via a virtual platform.
ADAPTING & OVERCOMING: OUR BUILD DEPARTMENT
Throughout the past couple weeks, the build department has been hard at work continuing to facilitate the same level of camaraderie and productivity as they normally would during this time of year in the shop. They have been running virtual Mill and Lathe 101s, which introduce the theory of the machines in an online format to new members, getting them excited about the machining process. We have also been conducting training with at-home kits, including a two part Shop 101 course, Pneumatics 101 and, most recently, a VersaPlanetary Gearbox training, something that they originally didn’t think was possible given the intricacy of the system, but turned out to be surprisingly successful. And let’s not forget about their fun team bonding activities: hosting Among Us and Minecraft mini games and beginning to develop new CAM and CNC machining courses. And the future ahead looks bright — they’ve planned a transition to limited in-person machine training for the next upcoming weeks!
COMMUNITY OUTREACH: BEING “MORE THAN ROBOTS”
Abiding by the values of FIRST, our business and outreach had to rethink their definition of “communication” as a whole, whether that is locally or internationally. For example, they have crafted new methods of staying united through virtual platforms like Zoom and Slack and introduced virtual versions of their traditional in-person programs like OrionEd, which allows young students to engage in STEM. After careful planning and decision-making, they redesigned online FLL camps for Parker’s middle school students. These students have also hosted and attended several virtual conferences with other FRC teams and connected with others through our WOW program, which focuses on empowering women to engage in science and technology professions.
Further, the entire team has become more involved within the Linda Vista community by hosting a food drive in partnership with the local Bayside Community Center in late September. This was a massive school-wide project coordinated by our Director of Public Relations that resulted in over 1,000 pounds of food and household donations for low-income families and seniors. It was crucial for the team to bond with the people of their Linda Vista neighborhood and hit home the message that we are indeed “more than robots.”