Administrative Blog

2016-2017 Team 254 Roster

Congratulations to all who were accepted on to the team. Hope you all have a good school year and a great season! Here is the list of accepted students, displayed using ID numbers.

New Members:

220212 220216 218421 219132 219058 218192
220006 218023 220048 220249 220034 219134
220157 218246 220019 220188 220233 220089
219386 220146 220387 220094 220124 219252
220402 220395 219432 220106 220114 220167
220110 218104 220407 220117 220116 220144
219297 217445 220288 220141 220194 220344
220159 220130 217173 217079 220076 218215
220020 220198 218022 220097 219011 219062
219397 220400 220297 217083 220149 219430
220392 220330

254 Featured in AT&T Documentary

Check it out! Our FRC team is one of the five featured in this AT&T documentary of the World Championships in St. Louis! Even though we only made it to division quarterfinals, the event was great!

"RoboLeague, a documentary airing on AT&T U-Verse Buzz Ch. 1000, follows five FIRST Robotics Competition teams as they strive for glory at the 2015 FIRST Championship!"

https://vimeo.com/139506546

Chezy Champs

The Second Annual Chezy Champs went even better than the first! Congratulations to the winning alliance of 3476, 971, and 968! Everyone had a great time; thank you for coming. Special thanks to the countless hours donated by volunteers the past few weeks. See you all next year!

Santa Clara County Fair

Showing off some impressive stacking maneuvers

We had a great time at the Santa Clara County Fair today. Deadlift did some fancy stacking for the crowds. Teams were demoing robots from 2012, 2013, and 2014, but Deadlift was the only 2015 representation during our timeslot. Thanks to Team 3256 for inviting us!

STEAM Festival

Several of our team members had a great time at the STEAM festival last weekend featuring Deadlift. It was a very fun and busy event!

Toys for Tots 2014

This Sunday, Team 254 went to the Toys for Tots event at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Toys for Tots is an organization founded by the United States Marine Corps Reserve and it aims to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. This event was sponsored by BAE Systems, one of our long time sponsors. The team demoed our 2014 Robot Barrage to enthusiastic kids and parents and also helped with the toy distribution. Some team members joined in the festivities by getting their faces painted with Christmas themed items and also the team swoosh. Also attending the event was Team 604, Quixsilver and several FTC and FLL teams, showing off their robots. Overall, this event was super fun and we look forward to helping out next year.

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Pre-STL Day 2: Robot Repairs

by: Brenden Farrer

Today at the lab, other FIRST teams, such as Spartan Robotics, came to practice with our field. The primary focus was on fixing the practice robot and Skystalker to continue driver practice with the other teams.

Skystalker

A “hat” was built for Skystalker that allows it to block and carry a ball. The wheels were retreaded, as the previous ones have worn down. Hopefully these new defense capabilities will provide more practice for the drive team.

Assembling the block and ball holder

Building and attaching treads

Attaching wheels

Finished Skystalker top

Practice Robot

Today students began discussion and planning of future projects. However, a second ball settler was attached to reduce the motion of inbounded or caught balls to increase accuracy when shooting. Adding a powerslide wheel was discussed, no changes were implemented today.

Attaching second ball settler

Prep for World's

For the trip to St. Louis, all of the tools will be shipped in a 5’ x 5’ x 5’ wooden crate. Using the measurements from the CAD designed yesterday, the wood pieces were cut and assembled.

Beginning of box assembly

Finished box

Action Items

  • See board

Robotics Engineering Day 2014

By: Chanan Walia

On March 30, 2014, Team 254 hosted their first robotics engineering day. Nearly sixty middle school teams signed up to attend.

To kick off the day, Godwin Vincent presented an introduction to robotics and how the engineering process is universal throughout every type of engineering. Chris Correa and Andrew Torrance discussed VEX and FRC and its relationship to engineering.

After the introduction, teams split up into groups, and a couple 254 members led each group. After meeting with their leaders and brainstorming their robot design, the students took a short break.

Team 254 then began to demonstrate Overkill, the 2013 robot for "Ultimate Ascent." The middle school students caught the Frisbees, and some were lucky enough to catch 254 T-shirts thrown by "Shockwave," the T-Shirt launching robot. Elias Wu demonstrated 254A/F's VEX Robot, made for the 2013-2014 Toss-Up challenge.

Students then returned to groups to finish brainstormingtheir VEX IQ robot designs and start building their robots. They spent two hours building their robots, and after a brief programming demonstration, theywere able to complete their IQ robots.

Finally, after their robots neared completion, students tested their robots on the fields and competed against each other. At the end of the day, parents were welcome to view their children’s creations. Overall,this was an awesome event and one we hope to host again in the future. Thank you to all the participants and volunteers!

Andrew talking about FRC at the beginning

Beginning to build prototypes

Godwin talking to parent about robotics

Eli demoing 254D VEX robot

Noah working with middle schoolers to build intake

Taking a break to catch some t-shirts from Shockwave

Scrimmage Time!

Mentor Profile: Paul Ventimiglia

This year we have had the unique privilege of working with some new and awesome mentors. Over the next few weeks, we will be giving them the opportunity to talk about how FIRST has affected them.

Name: Paul Ventimiglia

College/Major: Worcester Polytechnic Institute / Liberal Arts and Engineering

What is your occupation? How did you get into it?

I am currently not working anywhere. I am spending my time on side projects involving robotics design which I may turn into a business. Most recently, I was a Mechanical/Robotics Engineer at Double Robotics. I have been friends with the founders of the company for over a decade when we all were working on Battlebots. Since then, I have recruited my boss for side projects, and we kept in touch.

When did you get involved in FRC?

I got involved in FRC when I found out about it at WPI. FRC Team 190 was working out of the same lab I was building Battlebots in. I have been involved since kickoff 2006.

What was your favorite FRC game?

I enjoyed watching 2012 the most. It was very exciting watching the best robots scoring baskets quickly, and then always exciting at the end with the risky bridge balancing. 2011 was my favorite year for robot design and competing. We had a very solid and unique design which was very satisfying.

How did FRC interest you?

I love engineering, but I love engineering competitions even more. I am not really into any other sports (besides sailing), but I love the competitive nature of FIRST. It is not all about winning, but it is competitive to see who can come up with the best design quickly and easily. Mentoring students interested in robotics is really fun. I have a lot of experience building things quickly and reliably, and I am glad to share that with others.

How has FIRST affected you?

FIRST has a huge community, so it was an interesting place for me to learn from others and meet new people. I have many lifelong lasting friendships through FIRST. I have met business contacts and people which have led to amazing opportunities. FIRST has done a good job of focusing me, and giving me some structure, even if for only 6 weeks out of the year. It is something I look forward to and prioritize to make time for in my life. It has taught me so many engineering skills, new parts I have never seen, new methods, and refined my CAD skills. It also taught me a lot about working with teams of people and how to handle communication issues.

How many FRC teams have you worked with?

I have worked with 190, and a little with 1735, both out of Worcester, MA, before 254.

What area do you mentor in ?

I mentor in all things mechanical, design, overall geometry, parts sourcing, machining, etc.

Time Commitment:

During the build season, I am full on. Every day at the lab from about 5:30 until midnight weekdays, and 1 to midnight on weekends. During the season I took 4 days off. When I am not at the lab, I try to spend as little time working on anything FIRST related, although my mind is still thinking about solutions to problems. Also I spent a lot of time during the day physically bringing parts to and from our sponsors shops for welding or finishing.

How does your profession affect your approach?

As a robotics engineer, it is precisely what I do. Having a tough new challenge, brainstorming solutions, prototyping, designing, and manufacturing. All of course while maintaining a low project cost, and getting it done quickly. I approach FRC the same way I do any other engineering problem. I always look first at what others have done, do research, and ask a ton of questions.Then I try implementing a best estimate immediately and getting feedback for revisions.

Why did you decide to help with Team 254?

I have always admired the 254 creations. I have spent many hours looking over every picture I could find, and reading available information. It is one of the most professional teams, and I have always wanted to work with those mentors and students. I also think it is a very special privilege to be working out of a NASA facility with so much history and prestige.

What do you expect to see from students in FRC?

I expect a lot of hard work over time, and a lot of learning and improvement. When someone is not working hard, or quickly, I expect them to ask someone else how they can improve, or what they can be working on. I think all things can be solved by asking tons of questions and learning, so I always wish people would admit more often when they are unsure about something. I expect students to be here having fun, because they want to be here, and not feel forced.

Do you feel that FRC helps students prepare for future careers?

Yes, it helps dramatically. Some teams are run like small businesses, very professionally.They will learn about communication, deadlines, and real world project consequences. They will learn a ton about working with teams of people, and how they will not always get along with everyone. They also learn how to behave around industry professionals at events.

What do you do for fun?

I build bar tending robots, fighting robots, go sailing, go to the beach, and eat smoked BBQ.

What is your favorite FIRST memory?

Being on Einstein after winning champs in 2007 is right up there, also getting to play CRUD with my old team at the end of ship day each year.

What is your most valuable FIRST experience?

The most valuable experience was going to the Founder's Reception at Dean's house in 2006. That was my introduction to FIRST and where I met so many mentors. It got me hooked so quickly because I was fully immersed. From that I got to really meet my close friends from WPI which guided the rest of my education and career choices.

Team 254 and 1868 hold annual FRC Scrimmage

Pictures of this event have been omitted to protect the privacy of all teams in attendance.

This past weekend (February 15th and 16th), Team 254 and Team 1868 hosted their annual FRC scrimmage. In our lab, generously provided by NASA, we are thankful to have a near full-size field to practice on, so we opened up our lab so neighboring teams could practice before stop-build day. In addition, 254 and 1868 setup a full-stocked tools chest for visiting teams to work on their robots, along with snacks and drinks served throughout the day. Thirty-one teams registered to attend the scrimmage, four of which were participating in FRC for the first time. The scrimmage also gave teams that showed up the opportunity to discuss ideas about this year’s game, Aerial Assist, and preview each other’s robots ahead of competition. Moreover, we were excited to see Jim Beck, the Northern California First Representative, in attendance. We’re always glad to help out fellow FRC teams and we look forward to our annual scrimmage next February!

VEX Tournament Information for Competitors

The event is free for spectators. Below is information about the tournament, including details on the qualifications for the state and US national tournaments.

Outline

  • Changes from last year
  • Schedule
  • Tournament Location
  • Concessions & Pizza Order Form
  • Awards Given
  • Information for Competitors
  • Information for Novices

Changes from Last Year

  • There are more teams competing, so if you can, please get inspected on Friday evening.
  • We have extended the hours for the skills challenge field. It will open at 7:30 on Saturday morning and stay open through 4:30pm. High skills challenge scores can lead to a berth at the California State Championship.
  • Qualifications have changed and are described in the “Awards Given” section below.

Schedule

Friday, November 22, 2013

6 pm – 8 pm

Check-In and Inspection (in Liccardo)

6 pm – 9 pm

Practice time for teams

Saturday, November 23, 2013

7:15 am

Pit Area and Registration Opens (in Liccardo)

7:15 am – 8:30 am

Inspection (in Liccardo)

7:30 am – 8:30 am 7:30 am – 4:30 pm 8:15 am

Practice Rounds (in Sobrato Theater) Skills Challenge Field open (2nd floor Sobrato Theater) Check-in closes (Teams scratched that haven’t checked in)

8:30 am – 8:45 am

Driver’s Meeting (in Sobrato Theater)

8:30 am – 9:30 am

Sign up for judging interview (at Pit Admin table)

8:45 am

Welcome (in Sobrato Theater)

9:00 am – 12:30pm

Qualifying Rounds (in Sobrato Theater)

12:30 pm – 1:00 pm

Lunch Break (We will have Pizza Order Forms)

1:00 pm – 2:35 pm

Qualifying Rounds Continue (in Sobrato Theater)

2:45 pm

Alliance Selection Process (in Sobrato Theater)

3:00 pm – 5:30 pm 4:30 pm

Playoffs (in Sobrato Theater) Skills Challenge field closes

~5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Finals, Awards, Closing Ceremony (in Sobrato Theater)

Tournament Location

Bellarmine College Preparatory 960 W. Hedding St. San Jose, CA 95126//mapq.st/17Jl2d5

 

Street parking is very limited due to permit parking restrictions. On campus parking is marked with red on the campus map (linked below). The green boxes on the map represent the pit area.

View detailed campus map (PDF)

Concessions

Pizza will be available for $15 a large pie from Tony & Albas. Please order your pizzas by midnight on Nov 20 using this form. Please pay for your pizza when you check-in.

The following items will be available for purchase in the Liccardo Center (8am – 3pm):

  • Vegetarian Egg Rolls
  • Variety of Donuts, Muffins,
  • Fresh Fruit & Oatmeal
  • Cheetos and Cheez-Its & Coffee and Tea
  • Oreo Cookies & Variety of Juices
  • Candy Bars & Bottled Water
  • Cliff Bars & Snapple Iced Tea
  • Caesar Salad & Hot Chocolate
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Samosas

Awards Given

We have 5 qualifications for the VEX US Open (Excellence, Design and the tournament champions). Those teams, along with the finalists, also qualify for the California state championships.

iDesign will be offering a $100 gift certificate, which will go to the team that receives the Judges award.

 

Note that the skills rankings will be used to identify all additional teams that will be used to fill the state championship event to its capacity of 48 teams. Every team should realize the importance of this opportunity.

Info for Competitors

If you want to be considered for the Excellence or Design awards, you will need to sign up for an interview by 9:30am. Go to the Pit Manager to schedule (or change your appointment time if needed). The interview rooms are on the second floor of the Sobrato Theater building.

The skills challenge field is also on the 2nd floor of the Sobrato theater building. Teams are not limited to the number of attempts, however, any team with fewer than 3 attempts can move ahead of other teams waiting in line.

 

Teams will be scratched from the tournament if they have not checked in by 8:15am. If you are running late, please text 408-341-9066 or email blindemann@bcp.org before 8:15am, or your team will not be able to compete.

 

Bring safety glasses, power strips, tools, programming cables, engineering notebook, RECF releases (available at: //content.vexrobotics.com/epdocs/VRC_ReleaseForm_012011.pdf). Be sure your robot can pass inspection!

Info for Novices

It is highly recommended for you to arrive Friday to go through the inspection and try a couple practice matches. Friday will be much more relaxed and our inspectors will be able to help you through the inspection process. Also, our field managers will be able to guide you through the competition process. Be sure to bring fully charged batteries, chargers, spare parts and tools in case anything breaks. Be sure your vexnet keys are working well. Lastly, double check your robot against the inspection check list.

At the tournament, check in by 8:15am. Check the match schedule when it is published (around 8:35am) and make sure you are ready for each match. Try to have fully charged batteries for each match. Be sure the drivers and coach have safety glasses when they arrive at the field to compete.

More information on the game is at the RobotEvents website. The current rankings for Robot Skills and Programming skills are listed there also.

New Season Update

Already seven weeks into the start of the new school year, we have had many events, including workshops and team meetings, to kick off the new robotics season.

 

Our first mandatory meeting for the team was at the Introduction meeting, where all incoming freshmen, new members, and existing members were formally introduced to the leaders of Team 254 and students became familiar with the expectations for this new season. There was an outstanding attendance as over 130 interested participants registered for the team afterwards. We also held a parent meeting where we presented new information to parents and answered questions.

In the following week, we officially began the VEX season with our VEX Kickoff, where we introduced this year’s new game “Sack Attack” for those who have not seen it yet or were interested in participating in VEX this year. Jonathan Chang led the meeting and explained the design process each team must follow, along with safety regulations for Bellarmine’s new lab. New VEX teams were released and captains then led each sub-team to discuss game strategy and begin their brainstorming process.

Finally past the busy start of a new season, we smoothly transitioned into the Zero Robotics Kickoff led by Richard Lin, different workshops including Graphic design led by Kyle Schnoor and PR/Marketing led by Avery Strand, and VEX builds. Each VEX team presented their team’s robot design to the mentors, who gave their critique to each team, and teams now in the process of building each robot according to their CAD drawings. We have just begun registering teams for VEX tournaments, the first one already starting in October at San Ramon.

The mentors, leaders, and sub-captains are all looking forward to another great VEX season this year to follow up with last year’s excellent performance at the World Championships. As a reminder, you should still check the calendar often for meetings and lookout for upcoming workshops that interest you.

Mandatory Events This Week

A couple reminders:

  • All students are required to attend the introductory meeting. They are on August 22nd and 23rd (come to one OR the other) from 3:00 to 4:00, in Sobrato Theater. These are mandatory meetings, as announced in the previous informational email.
  • Vex Kickoff (similar to FRC kickoff, but for VEX) is also a required event. It is on August 30th from 3:00 – 5:00. Location TBD.
  • Whole Team Meetings are now every Wednesdays afterschool in Andrade, starting on the 29th. Please look at the calendar for more information.
  • Please make sure your account works on the website (BOTH parents and students).
  • Parent Meeting on August 28th at 7:00 in Sobrato.

Website redesign

As you may have noticed, the Team 254 website has been redesigned significantly. We’ve been working hard on updating it to modern web design standards, improving content, and reorganizing the site to be more logical. We hope that users find the site easier to navigate and more visually pleasing. The team member portal has also been re-created and should be easier to navigate.

We’ve imported most users from the old website, so we recommend trying to log in with your same credentials. If you’re having trouble logging in and cannot request a new password, contact stephen.

We heavily utilized Twitter Bootstrap in the redesign, so the site should display consistently across all modern web browsers. Behind the scenes, we’re running the latest version of WordPress. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Summer Wrap-Up

We had a very busy past week, with two outreach events/demos. On Wednesday, we had a Diversity Day event at NASA. We had a great turnout. Thank you to everyone who attended. We were able to show a lot of people our robot and many were impressed. A picture of us demoing the robot is below.

Team 254 at NASA Diversity Day

Even bigger news, we held our first Freshman Lab Day on Saturday, where over 60 incoming freshman and their families came to the lab to witness robotics first hand. It was an excellent opportunity for the incoming freshman to see if they want to do robotics before they even start school (Robotics: +1, speech and debate: 0). It was an awesome recruitment event and everything went well. Since it was such a success, we will be having more of these events in the following years. A picture is included below of Vex Leader, Jonathan Chang demonstrating a vex robot to a group of freshman and their parents.

Incoming Freshman Open HouseThat said, we had a very successful week and an excellent transition for our 2012-2013 season. Our first meetings will be on August 22nd and 23rd. Both of them will be held afterschool in Sobrato Theater. Please be there by 2:50 so we can start promptly. Both meetings will be the same. ALL RETURNING MEMBERS MUST ATTEND. If you cannot attend any of those two meetings, please let Mrs. Roemer know immediately. These will be introduction meetings, where we will talk about the team and the rest of the school year. If you do not attend, your membership on the team will be up for consideration. This is one of the few mandatory events we have throughout the year.

We make mandatory events, because they are integral to the development of the team. If you ever cannot make it to a mandatory event, please let a teacher know immediately and they will discuss it with you. All information after ANY meeting will be posted here on the blog under its designated category, so make sure you check here daily. In addition, and just as importantly, it is necessary that you check the blog on a daily basis. Every time you open up Facebook, think about opening up the blog. That is how you will stay connected with the team, and know what is happening.

The leadership has been preparing all year for the beginning of the year and we are alle very excite for this new year. See you all on August 22 or 23rd. Welcome to the 2012-2013 robotics season.