Monday, November 4, 2019

Cory Walters - This is How I Work

We are starting our 2019-2020 series of This is How I Work with Cory Walters. Cory is a mentor for team 2767, Stryke Force. His love for robotics began in 2002 when his brother joined an FRC team and that passion has grown into something that makes him want to inspire a new generation of students. Read on to learn more about Cory Walters! 

[Responses from October 30, 2019] 
Name: Cory Walters
CD Username: Cory_Walters
Current Job: Early Talent Robotics Program Associate 
Alma Mater/Degree: Northern Michigan University- Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management
Current Team(s): 2767 Stryke Force (2013- Present)
Former Team(s): 141 Wobot (2002-2010, 2013) - 2617 Cold Logic (2001-2012)
Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Hobbies: Robotics, Ultimate Frisbee, Video Games, Playing on Lakes
Are you an Alumni?: Yes! 
What inspired you to do what you do? Tell us a story.
The adult role models I grew up around are the exact reason I am who I am today. I could never replicate the compassion and guidance they gave me growing up. If I can give back just a fraction of the inspiration they give to me to others, it's a win in my book. 
What is your favorite story to tell about robotics?
In 2008 I went down to check out the Midwest Regional. My team was not competing at the event, but it was the closest regional that weekend. The blue alliance was barely a thing yet and live streams were a definition in a book somewhere. To see any FRC action you had to go check it out live in person.

111 Wildstang was there and they built yet another stout robot for the FRC game! That specific game required robots to throw balls over a tall bar for points. 111 had a massive intake on an elevator to accomplish such a task. During the Midwest Regional they could lift this huge contraption into the air to get the ball over the bar. Before the robot could proceed on its path they had to back up and lower the elevator back down. In one match, I mean this happened to them one time at the event, just once! They brought the elevator down too soon and ripped the intake roller off the robot. Once that happened, they were just a driving chassis.

Now jump into the future with me and go to the semifinals 2-2 of Newton year at worlds. 141 got picked by 1574 Miscar, and we wounded out the alliance with team 2016 Mighty Monkey Wrenches. We were up against 2056 OP robotics the Canadian power house, they give teams nightmares just thinking about them. 68 Truck Town Thunder who was known for being an aggressive pushing machine. Along with, you named it, 111 Wildstang the Midwest Motorola titan! Knowing what happened to them at the Midwest regional, I knew the drivers are now in sync on when to bring the elevator down to protect the intake roller. When the opportunity presented itself, I made sure the interrupt the process. After they hurled the ball, I gave them a bump on the rear to interrupt the routine so the elevator would go down and rip the intake roller clean off.

After the dust settled the lead mentor for 111 came over and asked how we know that was a flaw in the robot, it only happened once and 141 was not even at the event. We came down that weekend and scouted. SCOUTING MASTERS, it was not about scouting hard data, but seeing rhythms, habits, and knowing how to put the team in understandable situation was key.

What is your favorite FRC game and why?

My favorite FRC game is 2006 Aim High. It was the first year I drove a robot and it was a shooting game, how awesome is that! I loved the open field and allocated scoring times during the match. Bumpers were optional! We choose to not have bumpers so we could hit other robots harder with the robot. The robot only went 8 feet per second, but if it got you to you! You were getting pushed around no matter what, even up a ramp you didn't want to be on. 

What's the best advice you've ever received?
The best advice I ever got...Good question. In 2008 I was one of the two drivers on 141. For those that remember it was essentially Nascar with giant balls. Go check it out if you haven't seen it yet. The robot drove like a car, it had steering wheels in the front with powered wheels in the back, just like a car. The robot was scary fast. The lead programming mentor told me when you turn left, it will always go to the center of the field. But on a serious note of the best advice. You are the stern of the sail boat; your job is to always keep the boat up no matter what happens. 

How did you get involved in FIRST? 
When I was in middle school my mom brought my older brother and I to the West Michigan Regional in 2001. That was the first FIRST event I ever saw. There were robots going up and down a teeter totter, moving giant towers with balls in them. The one robot that stood out was 111 Wildstang, they would assist the other team that was going on the teeter totter by balancing it from underneath. 

The following year my older brother joined 141 Wobot along with my parents as mentors. Since I was a little pip squeak in middle school, I toted along with my family to all the regionals the team went to. I didn't know it at the time, but I saw a lot of the legacy robots such as, 71 the BEAST carpet crawler robot in 2002, 2003 great king of the hill battles, and 2004, the first game with steps. I didn't mind going, it meant I got to skip school and travel to cool places on the weekends, such as Houston champs in 2003. Where FIRST teams only, 13-year old's dream at the time, no lines anywhere! 

When I was old enough to do FRC my freshman year, I was hooked! No going back after that! 

What advice would you give to your high school self? 
The best advice I would give myself, would be to stick with it and it will all turn out in the end. I wouldn't want to go down a different path knowing where I am now. 

Tell us about a time you failed a learned from it. 
That's an easy one, learning to play with other teams after a debacle of a season in 2014. We built a dangerously strong, head decapitating, catapult to launch that ball. Great scoring machine, terrible intake system. On top of that we didn't pass the ball as much as we should have with our alliances for more points. We would get the ball and run down and score sometimes. It also didn't help that the CRIO (RIP and may it never come back!) would do a reset every time we hit something hard. On the bright side we learned how to make 3/4 in round bumpers 😉. 

What advice would you give your students? 
Its important to know that you give back to the FIRST program that has given you so much in return. The one caveat to that is FIRST will be around after you get out of college, focus on your studies and schooling while you are there. It can be tough to go cold turkey after high school, but FIRST got you ready for school and its needs your attention now. 

What is the most impactful thing you have learned from robotics?
Trust those who know more than you. I have had the privilege to work with numerous intelligent people over the years. The wisdom and knowledge they have is profound! Every single individual on this planet is going to know something that you don't. Always be learning from each other and have situational awareness of the peers you have around you. 

What led you to become a mentor? 
For better and for worse, I have been in the program for so long I do not know how I could not be a mentor in this program. 

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