Tag Archives: Engineering Notebook

In the Final Stretch: Interview Practice, Programming & Building

FWCS-ASME president Pete Grotsky offers interview guidance

FWCS-ASME Pres. Pete Grotsky shares interview guidance

Team Duct Tape enjoyed an instructive visit from FWCS-ASME President Pete Grotsky, of Government Programming Contracting and Management Services, who shared his insights on elements of a good interview,  what a quality Engineering notebook should look like, and how a good team conducts itself.   He enjoyed learning about the collaborative tools  like Google Apps and Skype, that TDT employs for administrative, program management and technical needs, and getting a look at our finished practice field.

After working with Mr. Grotsky, and plying their lessons learned in a mock interview practice,  team members hunkered down for an extra long build and programming meeting, stopping only for a short pizza and Mr. Bean video break.

We’ve got one more meeting before next Saturday’s competition at Hillsborough High

Programmers deep in thought

Programmers deep in thought

School, just enough time to tweak the notebook, and hopefully get some drive practice in on the practice field.  If nothing else,  we think the robot looks very cool!  If team members keep working as seamlessly as they did yesterday, though, it’ll work as well as it looks.

Secret programming code

Secret programming code

Halloween Horrors – First Competition just two weeks away!


Duct Tape Zombie!

TDT members have worked like the living dead (but with a lot more energy!) on their robot the last couple of days —  — trying to complete a robot design everyone feels will be competitive and successful.  TNT was an edifying experience that compelled team members to rework their initial design, after testing the practicality of their original idea on the actual playing field.

Demonstrating a prototype

Demonstrating a prototype

Prototypes have proven extremely useful in helping team members visualize different solutions.  A recent Skype meeting gave students more brainstorming time than student schedules allowed, too, and gave team members an opportunity to collaborate on design ideas, which they then refined further at yesterday’s meeting.  Team members also finalized team roles, enjoyed a sufficient amount of sugary sweet carbs,  and began working on their team “look”

Energy break!

Energy break!

(which is not that of the undead!).

The multiple levels of build complexity in this season’s Hot Shot! game have proven  more challenging than last season’s Face Off! build, with a lot more variables in the build and the game. Programmers face a dizzying array of controller needs, far beyond last year’s forward, back, left, right, up, down and dump. Fortunately, team members seem to have worked out a simple and elegant design that carves order out of the chaos of a field full of wiffle balls (hopefully!).

Going over Skype meeting design ideas

Going over Skype meeting design ideas

If the Engineering Notebook effectively documents TDTs journey,  it’ll read the Lewis and Clark expedition!

If progress continues as it has the past couple of days, though, the end of the journey may be in sight.  Hopefully team members will have a running robot by week’s end, and can work on their autonomous program and driving practice next week.  If not, the journey continues till we arrive at Hillsborough High School’s RoboMania qualifying competition on November 14!

In the meantime, we’ll keep checking the FTC Forum Q&A for tips and insights, communicating and keeping the notebook updated via our Google sites group, and grabbing whatever time we can to keep moving forward.



Team Duct Tape Wins Think Award at USF Polytechnic RoboBattle

Team Duct Tape enjoyed a full, exciting and verrrryyy looonngg day at the USF Polytechnic RoboBattle qualifying event yesterday, bringing home the Think and Winning Alliance Awards, shared with Ro Ro Ro Ur Bot (#617) and B.A.D. (Built and Dangerous #3045), and finalists for the Innovate and Inspire Awards as well. The Think Award is given to the team that judges feel “best reflects the “journey” the team took as they experienced the engineering design process during the build season.

Despite being down two team members due to illnesses, Team Duct Tape beautifully applied lessons learned:

  • Giving a polished interview with judges,
  • Presenting an organized Engineering notebook, neatly tabbed, with a table of contents,
  • Using a checklist before each and every match, eliminating problematic oversights (like forgetting to turn the robot on!),
  • Running successful autonomous programs,
  • Employing a new improved bucket and benefiting from a new polycarbonate motor shield,
  • Winning every match they played, including garnering the highest score of the day (115), and
  • Exhibiting Gracious Professionalism with one another, alliance members and other teams.

Team Duct Tape’s alliance with Ro Ro Ro Ur Bot and B.A.D. resulted in the Winning Alliance team of Ro Ro Ro Ur BAD Duct Tape, a terrific match of strengths and team work that included working autonomous programs, crowd pleasing assists and great scoring rounds.

Team members appreciated the opportunity to practice at the RoboBattle what they’ve been learning with their engineering mentors from ASME and Tampa Technik, and the chance to make new friends and reconnect with teams they’d met at their first event in November. USF Polytechnic provided a beautiful and comfortable venue for the competition, with absolutely remarkable volunteer assistance including calling teams down for matches and helping with all manner of questions and needs; thoughtful, caring and interested judges, and preternaturally patient referees; great video coverage; and exhibiting their own deeply Gracious Professionalism in dealing with all manner of unexpected problems.

Having the new mandated templates in place smoothed connection times and helped immensely with debugging, but the competition still ran extraordinarily late. It ended after midnight – six hours after the scheduled finishing time — and after a long day of technical snafus on the competition field, with slow Bluetooth connections and controllers seizing up on teams, necessitating nearly a dozen rematches, and the loss of three teams who were unable to stay for the late night elimination matches because of long drives home.

Hopefully, FIRST can resolve FTC Field Management System issues soon, so overlong events don’t discourage students and families from being part of this unparalleled opportunity for learning about science, math and technology in such a fun, terrific, exciting and deeply enduring way.

Team Duct Tape sends sincere Thank You’s to USF Polytechnic staff and volunteers, to Florida FTC, and to everyone who made the long day such a fun and rewarding one!