On November 16th, 2016, Tom Pope (GoS mentor) and Anne Kailin “AK” Northam (GoS student) flew to Shenzhen, China for a weeklong trip to promote FRC in the area. They were accompanied by Tao Lin, a mentor of team 6414 Voyager from the Shenzhen Foreign Language School. Around half of Voyager’s students came to the GoS Feiyue summer camp held at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in 2016 and were inspired to make their own team back home. The trip to China was partially to build relations with this team and help them in their team goals by running an FRC workshop. The workshop activity was to build a working FRC chassis as a preseason project for the team. They successfully completed the task and had a driving robot after two days. The team also spent a lot of time discussing with Tom and AK about what to expect during an FRC season.
The rest of the trip was spent visiting different schools and organizations to give presentations or otherwise spread FRC to different parts of Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Tom and AK presented for the Shenzhen Foreign Language School to recruit Voyager students, the Guangdong Experimental High School to get them interested in FRC and Feiyue, and students at Hongfa Temple in Shenzhen to explain robotics. They met with many professors, school officials, and team mentors over the course of the trip to talk about the technical advances in the area.
As a result of this trip, Tom Pope is now an official mentor of Voyager. We plan to keep in touch with them and help them as much as possible even though we’re on the other side of the world. Tom is now having weekly Skype calls with the team so he can mentor them from a distance. The Skype calls follow a similar style to the GoS leadership meetings.
In addition, we now have many students on our team communicating with theirs about everything from how to download Solidworks to learning Chinese. But perhaps the most exciting result of this trip is that Voyager is planning on opting out of their home regional in Shenzhen in order to come to the Greater Pittsburgh Regional to compete with us! We plan on supplying support with materials and tools so their trip can go smoothly. We’re looking forward to seeing our friends Voyager, FRC 6414!