On November 3rd, Girls of Steel traveled to Oakville, Ontario in Canada to attend SWATposium. 2017 SWATposium, November 4th, was a one day conference hosted by SWAT (FRC team 771) where FRC and FLL teams came together, gave presentations, and learned from one another. This was Girls of Steel’s 6th year attending and presenting at the conference, and, as always, it was a great experience!
Our day started with an opening speech by Dr. Elliott Coleshill. Dr. Coleshill has done a lot of work with the International Space Station, and he discussed some of the engineering problems he’s faced, and how the skills we learn through FIRST can be applied to real world problems. It was a very interesting presentation, and it was great to learn more about the space station!
After the opening speakers, it was time to separate for presentations and workshops. During the course of the day we attended workshops on outreach, awards, electronics, programming, and many other topics, presented by teams from the US and Canada. A favorite was a presentation by FRC team 1374 that discussed ways to help a team have a positive team culture. It gave us lots of ideas for things we might try on GoS to make the team even better! Pretty soon, it was time for our presentation.
We gave a presentation about the plate and standoff method. GoS created this method and used it very successfully on our robot last year. The method involves using flat plates connected by metal standoffs, thus making a design that’s both simple and effective. Afterwards, the participants had the chance to get a closer look at the plate and standoff method by putting together our chassis project, which is mostly made up of plates and standoffs. (The chassis project is a simple robot kit that can be put together by anyone from business executives to grade schoolers in 1-2 hours. We take the kit to outreach events to show people that robotics is approachable, and that anyone can do it.) Our presentation was well received all around, especially the hands on aspect of completing the chassis project!
After attending afternoon workshops, we all met up again to listen to the closing speaker, Alex Wigle, who works for the engineering consulting firm Hatch. Mr. Wigle told us about his time on a FIRST team, and his work in college and beyond. It was interesting to see some of the many ways that FIRST skills can translate into the workforce!
Finally, tired but happy, we headed home, with a short stop at Niagara Falls on the way. We spent much of the car ride home discussing the things we’d learned during the day. We all agreed that we could take some of the things we’d learned and use them to make our team better. We all attended the weekly Leadership Council meeting to present our suggestions for review and discussion.
This was an all-around great trip, and we all felt lucky to be able to attend this event, learn from others, and share our knowledge! As the other GoS students attending the event put it:
“SWATposium was a fantastic event that brought together some of the greatest aspects of FIRST. Everyone was enthusiastic and welcoming and I loved talking to teams from Canada… We collected many valuable tips from other teams and I look forward to implementing some into our team’s program… Thank you to SWAT for putting together such a seamless event yet again.”
“SWATposium was an awesome experience. It was great to see so many different teams talking and helping each other out through presentations and demos…I feel like it really embodied the spirit of FIRST and coopertition. I know our team learned a lot and I’m sure other teams did, too.”
FIRST is truly about More than Robots!