Team Number: 5945
Team Name: Absolute Control
Lead Mentor/Coach: Ron Therrien
Team Website: |CTRL| Rocks!
Form(s) of sponsor recognition: We love to show off our sponsors! In fact, we have even advertised them on this document! Traditionally, we advertise our sponsors on our website, team t-shirts, banners, and on our robot, but we also get creative and advertise them on our faces and hands too during community events.
Lessons Learned: As a rookie robotics team, we came to the table with only determination, innovation and hard work. Our very FIRST journey has been riddled with great experiences, inspirational memories, and lessons that will hold good for a lifetime. We learned through positive experiences as well as through seemingly negative experiences, and so we decided to break our “Lessons Learned” into “Things that went well”, and “Things we could learn from and improve upon”.
Things that went well:
- Our Mentors – We were just rookies, but our mentors guided us, motivated us, explained concepts, and most of all, let us make all major decisions. We benefitted from the strong ethics and commitment that we saw in our mentors, and the fact that their attitude inspired us to tackle any failure head on.
- Our Project Plan- Before we got down to brainstorming or designing, we sat down and created a project plan with milestones and deliverables. We were rarely on track with multiple deliverables, but we compensated by working extra hours and pulling in all hands. Our project plan kept us looking forward and planning for the future. It helped us budget our time and finances, and eventually allowed us to give life to Apollo, our robot, within the allotted amount of time.
- Our Stockpile and Supplies: A rookie team makes errors—and we had enough of them! However, we had enough materials on hand, and the liberty to explore innovative approaches to fix our errors because of the stockpile of supplies we had. Our errors only strengthened and helped us complete Apollo on schedule. We also did a great job setting up and supplying a brand new workshop with appropriate tools and materials.
- Our Team Spirit: Building Apollo for the first time was not an easy task. Coordinating multiple sub teams and various processes was a mindboggling feat for most of us, but in our minds, the primary lesson we learned was that a positive and can-do attitude defines a leader. We are proud to say that in our team, everyone was a leader! All our team members stepped in to help where ever they were needed.
- Our Fundraising Strategy: We did well fundraising, even though we started very late in the fall. During the build season, we did not lack for supplies even when the money was really tight. We learned the importance of budgeting and planning ahead, and we are planning an intensive fund raising strategy for this season.
- Our Rewards: We are beyond proud of ourselves and our mentors. We won all three rookie awards (Rookie Inspiration Award, Rookie of the Year Award and Highest Seeded Rookie) at district events. Our hard work paid off and our awards motivated us to go for higher achievements in the coming season. We won’t rest on our laurels, we are unstoppable because we believe in the power of technology to change the world.
Things that we could learn from and improve upon:
Our Pre-Build Preparation: We realized the amount of skills that it took to build Apollo, and our strategy is to help every team member start training/ building those skills in the pre-season. Our plan is to encourage our team members to select an area that they love, and excel at it. We are planning weekly brainstorming sessions where we will attempt to cross train each other. We want to do pre-season training in all the different skills areas so everyone understands all aspects of the team. We especially need more control systems training for everyone.
Our Focus and Priority: Last season, we encountered obstacles with team members being late and lacking focus. This season we plan to take the initiative and emphasize to parents as well as each other that lack of punctuality and focus can adversely affect the entire team. We plan to have posters which clearly outline that our first and last priority during build season rests with building our robot.
Our Organizational Skills: We need a better student lead organization skills. To help improve this we plan on picking the leadership team prior to the season start and having them lead our pre-season planning.
Our Fundraising Strategy: We never lacked for supplies during build season, but we could have used additional funds in multiple situations. We plan to start fund raising earlier this coming year and to hold parent and mentor meetings to get parents thinking of how to get their companies to sponsor us.
Our Commitment: Control Systems: Students doing control systems need to bring their own laptops to work on so they can continue working on software at home. Mechanical Design: We need to do a better job on CAD next year. We did have some drawings of our robot this season but we could not keep up as changes were made and eventually we didn’t have drawings of the entire robot. Drawings need to be constantly updated and include all aspects of the robot including the control systems layout. Pre-season training needs to be done to help everyone understand the importance of CAD in the process.
Our Team Building Strategy: We are planning to have teambuilding events to help everyone get to know each other and work together better.
Our Mentoring Strategy: We need to develop a stronger mentor group. Areas that need help are, lead business mentor, lead software mentor and a much deeper mechanical mentor group. We learned that we need to improve how we integrate all the systems in our robot sooner so we have more time to do autonomous coding.
Our Innovation Initiative: We want to build our own chassis instead of relying on the kit of parts chassis. This would give us more flexibility on mechanism layout on the robot. At this point, we need an additional strong mechanical mentor to assist in this task. We need also need to build a flexible motor/mechanism tester that can be used to test mechanisms as they are built. This would prevent software from having to use the actual RoboRio for testing.
We were lacking 3D printing capabilities, so we need to purchase a team 3D printer as well as a CNC machine if we can raise the required funds.
Our Community Initiative: We need to build a stronger link to the community. We have held and are planning on holding additional events to get the word out about what we do and raise awareness of sponsorship opportunities for local companies.