2017-2018 Preseason Update #2

Preparing for build season is a monumental task for the Girls of Steel. We need to make sure that everyone, including the new girls, feels completely confident in their skills that are needed for build season to run as smoothly as possible. To make sure that everyone remembers how to be safe in the high bay and the machine shop, we require that ALL girls and mentors complete shop training with our CMU mentor, Chuck. Chuck goes over all of the machines and how to operate them as well as what protocol to follow if there is an emergency.

In addition to shop training, we have all the new girls or 2nd year returning girls receive tech training in all of our sub teams.  Doing this provides each girl with basic knowledge of any task they could be given during build season.  Each of the girls are given a specific sub team to focus on, either mechanical, electronics, programming, or design, and will extend their knowledge in this sub team to be able to tackle more complex tasks. In Design training, the girls will review how to use GrabCAD and basic Solidworks functions. In Electronics training, the girls will go over how to properly care for batteries as well as electronics safety, location of tools, and how to use specific tools. In Mechanical training, the girls will learn how to use all of the tools and materials and know where they are located. They will also learn how to read the drawings that show them how to make certain parts of the robot. Finally, in Programming, the girls will learn about how to connect the robot to the roboRIO and how to connect updated programs to the robot.

Another thing that the team will do is a cleanup of the high bay. This includes sweeping the floors, throwing trash and junk away, and organizing tools and materials. This will insure that during build season we will know where all of our tools and materials are and can find them easily.

Build season is a very strenuous time. There is added stress from making sure the robot is working properly before bag and tag, and a lot of the girls’ time is spent on working with the robot. It’s important for the girls to realize that build season will be a lot of work, so I recommend that the girls read the FRC survival guide to help get them through build season. To help make build season easier, the media team has specifically come up with buffer blog post ideas that we can write now and post later. This gives us more time during build season to do more important things than worry about what blog post needs to be written. There is a lot of preparation going on before preseason ends, which will allow us to have a very productive and less stressful build season.

During these past four weeks the Girls of Steel team has been very busy. On October 24th, the finance team worked on the team mission statement, team origin, and organizational structure sections of their business plan. They also contacted organizations to set up T-shirt and food-related fundraisers. The media team has been working on blog posts and updating social media as well as team branding. On October 26th the Design team worked on making drawings for the shooter, water-jetted some parts, and worked on the chassis kit. Mechanical started manufacturing shooter parts and had a welding session. Programming installed the 2nd beta, wrote the benchtop test program, moved Vision Thread for image processing, and copied the “secondary code”.

On Halloween, we had our sixth All-Hands Meeting. We started off by discussing our future meetings – the next technical meeting and the next all hands meeting. During the rest of the meeting everyone worked in their business sub teams.  On Thursday, November 2nd, we had our first programming taste-tester, where the girls interested in coding were able to see what it would be like to be on the programming team during the upcoming build season.  The Design team worked on the chassis kit. Electronics started wiring and forming the e-board. Mechanical started building and assembling the shooter parts, and worked on the Trinity bot and the gear boxes. Programming upgraded the beta roboRIOs to the latest image and updated the Talon SRX.

On Tuesday, November 7th, the 7th preseason meeting, we started our preseason technical training for girls with 0 to 1 year of experience on the team. The girls filled out the technical sub team form to select what team they want to be on. Our team is made up of four technical sub-teams: Electronics, Mechanical, Programming, and Design.  Next, we also discussed our future outreach events such as our yearly holiday tradition volunteering for gift-wrapping at Barnes and Noble at the Waterfront in Homestead PA. Also every Saturday, we mentor our four FLL teams (Dot…Dot…Dot…, CM Blues, The Pittsburgh Purploids, and the Green Gears) at NREC. We also discussed our candy and T-shirt fundraising. We are still selling our Sarris Candy Bars, and all the girls ordered their “We Can Do It!” T-shirts.  Afterwards, we talked about our Leadership Council (LC) meetings, where all sub-team leaders discuss what each sub-team needs. The mentors also bring up future events and whatever else needs to be discussed. All girls are invited to attend LC meetings which occur every Saturday morning.  Finally we learned more about the self-defense seminar that we will have in December, which is one of our favorite team bonding events.   After the All-Hands meeting, we had our “Triad Time”; when we split into groups of three or four girls. The groups consist of a new member, a returning member, and junior member. We use this time to help the girls get to know each other. This week we also played a game of Kahoot, which was very fun for all the girls.

During the all hands meeting on November 14, the team was very busy. Finance started editing the relationships section and the deployment of resources section of the business plan. They also double-checked and filed the Sarris order forms from our annual Sarris Candies holiday fundraiser. The awards team worked very hard these past few weeks. The awards team leader Emilia B. said, “The awards team has been adding to and refining our rough drafts for long essay, short essay, and Woodie Flowers. We are hoping to send drafts out to the rest of the team prior to the next meeting. Each award has a group of small girls dedicated to the task and working together to write. We also began the script for the chairman’s presentation.”

These last few weeks have been especially busy for the Girls of Steel as we approach the last weeks of Preseason. The girls have been immersed in getting as much work done as possible and continue to be very productive.

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