I think the most powerful lesson students can learn from FRC is that: "Failure isn't permanent. Life is iterative." I'm proud that the Robowranglers have embraced continuous improvement and iteration as core values. I love the video our marketing team created to celebrate this mentality. It gives me goosebumps every time I watch it...
During the course of the 2017 FRC season the Robowranglers went through a significant amount of development on our intake subsystem.
Very early on the team decided it would be advantageous to be able to pickup a gear off the ground. We believed that teams would drop gears during normal match play and that being able to pick these up would save us significant time when running "gear cycles".
In addition, our team originally wanted to pickup balls off the floor. We decided there would be some benefit to an intake which could pickup both balls and gears, without violating any of the possession rules. The functional requirement we set for ourself was to "drive full speed through a pile of balls + gears, and come out the other side with all the balls and one of the gears."
Check out the progression of our development!Read More
One of my favorite STEM jokes:
When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker's circuit, he usually found himself eagerly longing to get back to his laboratory work.
One night as they were driving to yet another rubber-chicken dinner, Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur (a man who somewhat resembled Einstein in looks & manner) that he was tired of speechmaking.
"I have an idea, boss," his chauffeur said. "I've heard you give this speech so many times. I'll bet I could give it for you."
Einstein laughed loudly and said, "Why not? Let's do it!"
When they arrived at the dinner, Einstein donned the chauffeur's cap and jacket and sat in the back of the room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of Einstein's speech and even answered a few questions expertly.
Then a supremely pompous professor asked an extremely esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing here and there to let everyone in the audience know that he was nobody's fool.
Without missing a beat, the chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and said, "Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back, answer it for me.”
Almost exactly 17 years ago... at the end of my rookie season in FRC I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Woodie Flowers. We were introduced during a very busy moment at the end of what must have been a very busy day for him. In (what I'd later learn is) characteristic fashion, Woodie didn't just say "Hi" but took time to chat with me about my experiences and future goals. While I didn't appreciate it then, It is amazing how much time he spent with me: some random rookie robot kid from upstate NY.
Over the course of the following season I'd have several additional opportunities to chat with him. Each time we chatted he seemed to remember me and we were able to have an on-going conversation about... well... whatever seemed important to me at the time. (Note: probably NOT important).
In the years since, I'm fortunate that Woodie has continued to be a positive force in my life. I cherish his mentorship. Through our conversations he has always provided me with remarkable insight and has helped shape many of my core beliefs.
As the father of educational and competition robotics his impact is almost unknowable in its magnitude. Woodie is simply the thought-leader and moral compass for entire generations of students.
However... what amazes me more than his cultural influence is the impact he's had on the many individuals who have come into his life. Over the years I've seen him chat with numerous students from around the world (including dozens of Robowranglers). Watching him in these situations is humbling, because I've never met anyone who is so selflessly generous with their time.
As a small tribute to such a tremendous legacy, as thanks for the large impact he's had (and the many many many small impacts) I'm absolutely thrilled to see Woodie's induction into the STEM Hall of Fame. There is literally no one more deserving.
I can never thank Woodie enough for the time he spent with me when I was a kid, or the time he spends with my Robowrangler kids, or for the time he spends with the countless other students he meets... but I'm not going to stop trying.
Friends — I’m excited to announce some recent changes in my career. While I am NOT leaving Innovation First, our CEO has asked me to assume a new role. Last week I officially took over as President of our RackSolutions division.
I’m extremely excited by the new challenges and opportunities that will come from this change, but of course am also sad to be leaving VEX Robotics. I’ve been with IFI for 12 years now, and have been part of the VEX family almost that entire time. While my passion for educational reform and competition robotics has not changed, this part of my life will no longer be part of my "day job.”
Even though I’m leaving, I’m thankful to not be going very far. (In fact, my desk hasn’t moved yet). The team at VEX is full of some of the most passionate, incredible people I’ve known. I’m thankful to have worked side-by-side with them for so long and wish them nothing but the best as they continue their path of incredible impact.
The first product I designed as an IFI intern (I did more watching Bob, then actual design) was a patch panel mount for RackSolutions. Jumping back into the “Racks world” feels natural (It helps that almost every product we sell is made from black sheetmetal).
In just a week it’s already become apparent to me why RackSolutions has been so successful for so long. I’m thankful to have been welcomed so warmly into this new role, and I’m already overwhelmed with excitement by all the opportunities the future holds.
Originally Published 5/5/2011 - For the past three years the Robowranglers have been in a prank war with our friends the Robonauts...
This year, the Robowranglers struck a decisive blow. Operation Playhouse.