Sunday, December 30, 2012

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas 2012

On Friday (12/28/12) we were invited to demo our FRC robot at the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas as part of an ExxonMobil demonstration. FRC# 57 The Leopards from Booker T. Washington HS and FRC# 624 CRyptonite from Cinco Ranch High School were also at the demonstration with us.

Over 50,000 people were in attendance at the game. We were able to talk to many people about the benefits of FIRST and even got several young students interested in joining FLL teams at their schools. Thank you to ExxonMobil for setting up such a wonderful opportunity to spread the FIRST message to so many people.

For more photos look at our Facebook page.

- Spectrum

"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." - George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mentors for a Day 2012

This fall we started a new program to bring engineers and scientist in from our community to speak to our team and our schools. A couple of these guests have already made it up on our blog.

We have had a total of 9 speakers on 8 different days. It has been fantastic to get so many different perspectives from different engineers and scientists. The "Mentor for a Day" program not only exposes are students to professionals, it also exposes the professionals to FRC, VEX and STEM education. Below are the speakers that we haven't highlighted on the blog yet, along with links to videos of their presentations when available.

Sep 28th - Jose Lopez - Mechanical Engineer
- Sr. Design Engineer - Current Product Engineering, Product Services at Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Inc
- President 2012-2013 at Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers - Houston Professional Chapter
- ASME Student Liaison at ASME - South Texas Section

Oct 30th - Greg Frank - Civil Engineer at Costello Inc. Engineering and Surveying
- Hydrology and Hydraulics specialist, does flood studies and large drainage projects

Nov 2nd - Allegra Giblin and Tony Torlucci - Geology and Geophysics

Nov 16th John Sallans - Application Engineer at SKF USA Inc.
Spoke about bearings and their applications. From 10 meter diameter bearings used in earth mothers and tunnel machines to mm scale bearings for precision machines.

Nov 30th - Caleb Kemere - Neuroengineering Professor at Rice UniversityProfessor Kemere from Rice University came to St. Agnes Academy to talk to Spectrum about the brain and his research in neuroengineering.

Dec 5th - Brandon Morin - Completions Engineer with ConocoPhillips
Brandon is a Completions Engineer with ConocoPhillips. He talked about what he does on a day to day basis and about the technology used in extracting carbon and gas from underground.

Thank you to all the fantastic speakers we had this semester. We are very excited to continue this program in the future and get more exposure to different engineering and science disciplines. If anyone knows of an engineer, scientist or technology professional or hobbiest that would like to come speak at our school please let us know. 

- Spectrum

“If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” - Fred Rogers

Monday, December 17, 2012

HoustonISD VEX League Day 1

Spectrum is helping organize the Houston ISD VEX Robotics League as part of their UIL Academic tournaments. So far we have helped start VEX Robotics teams at 7 HISD High Schools and we should have two more new schools join for the rest of the league.

The first league event was this Saturday (12/15/2012). It was held at Sharpstown High School. Spectrum organized the event by handling the logistics of getting the fields and the teams to the site. We also provided the majority of the volunteers, along with help from Judy and Josh Bryant, and students from Young Women's College Preparatory and Carnegie Vanguard. Spectrum students handled the reffing, score keeping, and queuing for the event and helped with setup and take down.

The event was a huge success with 11 rookie robots and 7 veterans we did not expect the event to run as smoothly as it did. After only a few matches it was hard to tell the rookie teams from the veterans because they were all very professional and competing well. The matches progressed very quickly with each team getting 7 matches before 3:00 pm. We're very excited to see how these young teams improve throughout the duration of the league.

The results from the first day can be found on the event webpage.

The League continues with two more days of competition:
Jan 26th @ Sam Houston MST
March 2nd @ Carnegie Vanguard

Spectrum is very proud to be supporting the growth of engineering programs at high schools in our area.

- Spectrum

"Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others." - Danny Thomas

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Spectrum Mock Kickoff 2012-13

Spectrum hosted the inaugural Houston Area Mock Kickoff this Saturday (Dec 8th, 2012) at St. Agnes Academy. The event is modeled after events that take place in Michigan by Code Red Robotics and Minnesota by MNGoFIRST. The goal of these events is to introduce new teams and new students to FRC and how the design process works. Much of what we went over at our event was the Engineering Design Process, much of it similar to how John V-Neun presented it in this paper.

We had a fantastic turnout to this year's event. We had over 130 people in attendance representing 13 teams. We were very happy to welcome all four of the Houston area rookie teams to this event. 4587, 4589, 4639, and 4689 welcome to FRC we're all very glad to have you.

For the main event of the day we had everyone in the cafeteria. We split up the real teams in to about 20 Mock Teams for the day. That way people were working with people that they didn't know and hopefully they made a few friends during the day. We then went over what happens at Kickoff and also the entire design process. 

We also had 5 workshops choices after our main design workshop. We had an introduction to the electrical system, the mechanical system, How to run an FRC team, Using media to help FRC teams, and we also hosted our Java Beta Test open house during this time. Thank you to Scott Rippetoe (#1477), Kevin Sevcik (#57), Judy Bryant (#57), and Andrew Lynch (#2587) for helping with these presentations.

All of the documents that we handed out at this event can be found on our website. One of the newest things we have is our updated version of our Illuminations document for rookie teams. Please take a look it at; we really think it will help new teams.

Thank you to everyone that helped with event, all the participants, and everyone who has posted resources for teams to use.

- Spectrum

"Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee, and do not try to make the universe a blind alley."  
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Houston VEX Regional 2012

Spectrum was at the Houston VEX Regional this past Saturday (Dec 1st). We had both 3847A and 3847J on hand to compete for the regional title. We also had an entirely Spectrum referee crew for the event (7 volunteers).

The robots had a few nice improvements since we finished up the Houston League three weeks ago. Most notably, polycarbonate plates were added under the drive train to reduce the chance of getting stuck on stacks.

The robots both performed very well. We ended up ranked 18th and 24th because of a few technical issues in matches, but we both robots were picked to go into the elimination matches. Thank you for
Clear Falls 2335 and KAOS 1429 for picking 3847J, we had a great time on your alliance. 3847A was picked by 2587 Discobots and 1412C Road Hazards and went on to beat the 2335, 1429, and 3847J alliance for a spot in the finals. Thank you both 2587 and 1412C it was great working with you and were so proud to bring home some hardware from the event as Regional Finalists. Also congratulations to the Discobots for winning the Excellence Award.

Congratulations to McCallum Robotics 8756A, GONBOTZ - B 6966B (from Mexico), and Cypress Ranch Robotics Team 3335A on your regional victory it was well deserved.

Our VEX season is over for the fall, we may have one more tournament in the spring we'll see how that goes.

Now it's time to gear up for FRC, kickoff is only 32 days away. We have our Mock Kickoff this Saturday. For more information visit:

- Spectrum

"Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is in the doing something else." - Tom Peters, Chicago Tribune, July 11, 1994.