Biola Enrichment Program 2017

In the summer of 2017, our team took the wonderful opportunity to help Inspire One’s Biola Enrichment Program. Inspire One is an organization that educates children in creative arts and strives to build cross-cultural and socioeconomic bridges. This enrichment program takes place in the town of Biola, a community outside of Fresno with a population of a little over one thousand. It reaches almost one hundred children.

The opening session for this program consists of singing, dancing and story time. On the days our team went out there,  the kids had the opportunity to ask several of our team members questions about the robot and FIRST competitions. Then, our drive team demonstrated our robot- driving it around, picking up gears, and climbing a rope.

Following this, we broke the kids down into groups of five to eight and assigned team members to each group. On the first day, we had one team member in each group pretend to be a robot and had the kids give him commands in order to complete objectives such as picking up a chair. In this way, we demonstrated to the kids that you have to communicate with the robot for it to do what you want it to do. This activity led to a discussion about programming. On our second day there, with the assistance of the team members, the kids constructed a car with clothespins, pipe cleaners, and buttons.

Because of this program, the kids get free breakfast and lunch at the local elementary school. This is also a great opportunity for the kids to bond with teen volunteers. Aside from what we taught them about robotics, the kids got to go on a few field trips including a fishing trip and an ice skating rink. They also got to learn more about cooking and photography. Typically, they finished the week off with a fun water day.

The children who live in Biola often spend their summer days home alone since their parents have to work in the fields. We feel that this program has had a tremendously positive impact on such children. We were honored to be able to introduce them to STEM.

Girls World

In March 2017, the ladies of Team 3303, Metallic Thunder attended the Girls’ World Expo in downtown Fresno. We were able to speak with almost 1000 young women about the exciting and challenging things we learn through FIRST robotics and the possibilities for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The young women were from all walks of life and age groups. All with a unique set of interests. Each one discovered something about FIRST Robotics that intrigued them, from the building and programming of the robot, the to the business department and public relations. We took our practice robot to demonstrate for the girls at the Expo. It was exciting to see the wonder and amazement in their eyes as they watched the robot. I specifically remember one young lady that stood by the robot studying the electronics and wiring. I could see the wheels turning in her mind; I remember thinking to myself “This is why we are here.” I know she was inspired that day and I hope she goes on to discover great things in STEM!
We were joined by 2 other local FIRST Robotics Competition teams, Buchanan Bird Brains Team 1671 from Buchanan High School and Uni-rex Team 5817 from Sanger High. For the young ladies on our team, it was exciting to meet young women on other F.R.C. teams and to talk about this passion we share. We were also joined be one FIRST LEGO League team, Team P.O.P.  Team P.O.P. is an all-girls team, ages ranging from 9 to 14. It was a pleasure to meet them and to hear their enthusiasm as they explained their F.L.L. challenge for the year to us and how they had qualified for World Championships ( At World Championships, we had the opportunity to go over to Team P.O.P.’s pit to see them again and wish them luck.) It was an honor to represent FIRST and Central Valley Robotics at this event alongside Uni-rex, The Bird Brains and Team P.O.P. It is satisfying to know that we had the opportunity to help change the culture of STEM Education for girls, and had a lot of fun doing it.

Week 2: The Highlights

Week two of build season has been a very busy week. We almost have the design for our robot, and the build team has just started to build our practice bot. We are going to prototype and test different ideas out on the practice bot, and then when we have got all the measurements and details down then we will start building the competition bot.

The CAD team has also been working alongside the build team, creating the designs on CAD. The build team would come up with an idea that probably works, and then the CAD team takes that idea and create a CAD model of it.

The programming team has been very busy wiring the robot and they have finally got our practice robot driving, so now the drive team can start practicing once we get the battery mounted. Wiring requires carefulness and precision. If they put one wire in the wrong spot, the robot will not function the way we want it to. One of our goals this year is neatness in all things, including wiring. If we have very messy wires, and the robot malfunctions during a competition, it can be very hard to diagnose the problem because we don’t know where each wire leads to. But if we have neat wires, then troubleshooting should be no problem. They are currently working on wiring the competition bot and are starting to create the code and mount pneumatics. Pneumatics requires more carefulness because it has a wider margin of error. Along with malfunctioning compressors, there can be air leaks, pressure loss, etc.

The Public Relations team have also been working hard on putting the drive team’s costumes together for competition so that our team can win the imagery award. The entire team has also been working on sponsorship. Our goal is to raise $60,000, and if it weren’t for our generous sponsors, it would be nearly impossible to reach that goal.

So now our goal for these next few weeks is to finish building the practice robot, wire and mount the competition robot, and finish building the competition bot. Week two has been a very productive week!

Week 1 Update

January 6th… a day in which all teams come together to eat donuts, Cheez-It’s and sit in front of a TV for half a day. Okay, maybe not all teams, but we, like all other teams, did get together to watch the game video.

Once we all had become familiar with the game video and manual, we split up into design groups.  Now, these design groups were named Blue, Green and Yellow, each containing 5-7 members. Originally we had a group called Red, but due to the specialties of each member, the group wasn’t as productive as the others. So to save time, we divided each of them into the remaining three groups. Each of these subgroups came up with their own ideas for the robot. We had set a rule for all teams, “No communication with any other design teams on any matter related to their design.” With this rule set, we were able to come up with three completely different designs. At the end of week one, we had each prototyped our designs, both in CAD as well as in the physical reality.

By Thursday night, we were all ready to present to the team as a whole. On Friday the 12th, each of our small groups united to form 3303 Metallic Thunder and unanimously finalized our design. Saturday was a day of seeing what we had from previous years, what we got in the KOP(Kit of Parts), and how to use those. We had a design in mind, so that was a day of thinking and strategizing on how to make what we had envisioned. Some prototyping was thrown in there as well. From that week, we created our game plan, our robot necessities and a vague overview of how it would be made. Week two is further prototyping the robot and finalizing our CAD models. On the other side of the team, the Public Relations branch was mainly discussing matters related to the team image, planning for outreaches, competitions, etc. But at the end of week one, PR’s game plan was still being developed.

Additionally, we started to memorize our team verse “You whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-10

Los Angeles Regional

March 24th through the 26th was our team’s second regional, the Los Angeles Regional.  The team put in many long nights adapting our gear mechanism and climber to increase speed and reliability our robot.  We added these improvements to our robot once we arrived in Los Angeles.  This included designing a new gear mechanism which allowed us to collect gears from the ground!

The first day of competition went moderately well for our team.  We performed at our best, and we ended the day in 36th.  However, our team performed much better the second day.  We were selected by the second seed alliance to join them in the final rounds!  With our alliance partners,  teams 3309 and 2486, we were able to advance all the way to the Finals!

Although we didn’t win in the Finals, we received the Imagery Award and a wildcard. The wildcard qualified our team for the 2017 FIRST World Championships in Houston, Texas! The whole team is extremely excited to have this wonderful opportunity to attend World Championships.

Central Valley Regional

After all our hard work during the build season, we had our first competition.  We had practiced so much and were excited to compete with other robots for the first time.

As  far as the robot goes, we changed its design drastically in between matches.  We scrapped our original gear mechanism that wasn’t working, and replaced it with a basket-like design.  We also improved our climber to catch the rope more consistently.  Also, we removed our shooter entirely, which allowed us to bend  the hopper into the aforementioned gear basket shape.

During most of our matches, we used a defensive strategy, blocking robots in route to and from the loading station.  People noticed how effective it was and that made us a sought after team for alliances.  We actually ended up being selected by the first seed!  This was an awesome accomplishment for the team!

Although we did not win or qualify for World Championships, we won the Pit Safety Award and the Imagery Award.  We are very pleased with the results of this competition and would like to thank our generous sponsors for making it all possible!


2017 Bag n’ Tag

Tuesday was Bag n’ Tag for FIRST Robotics teams across the world.   We successfully bagged our working robot, Joule 8! We are proud of what we have accomplished this season and are eagerly looking forward to what we can achieve at competition.

And a huge thanks to Archway Systems for their generous support!


Week 6 Update 2017

This week was a crazy week for us!  It’s crunch week which means the days are longer and work is coming to an end.  Because we have a four day weekend, we have all day Monday to finalize the robot design and test drive.  Last Tuesday, the rest of the robot pieces were cut out on the water jet, the edges of the pieces were filed down, and the robot was assembled.  Once that was done, the Programming and Electronics Team wired all the required components together to fit in the robot.  Friday night we were faced with a major design flaw so we gathered together as a team to brainstorm and after some thought we found a solution.  Finally, now, it’s time to start test driving and working towards building the second robot!

Week 5 Update 2017

Week 5 was by far, our most productive week.  We raised eighteen percent of our fundraising goal.  The build team did a lot of CAD and, after a nearly full week of it, successfully completed the full model.  This allowed us to start water jetting our robot’s pieces and collecting its weights.  We also completed working code for all of our robot’s components and created the electronics board layout.

Also a big thank you to one of our sponsors this week, JISCO, for sponsoring us with much needed tools.

Here we are picking up the tools.

Our electronics board layout.

The finished CAD model.

Our water jet cutting layout.

Week 4 Update 2017

This week, we finished many smaller, yet important tasks.  We researched using vision tracking for our robot to help us in the competition.  Also, the Design team finalized CAD models for our fuel storage, shooter, and gear mechanism.  Additionally, the team had the wonderful opportunity to participate in ArtHop.  ArtHop occurs the first Thursday of every month in downtown Fresno.  Businesses open up their doors to artists to show their art, which makes for a big, city wide art gallery.