There are three main committees of our engineering process. We have the build committee, the programming committee, and the engineering notebook committee. In the beginning of the season all three teams come together to design the robot in concept. Once the whole team knows the general shape the robot will have and how we will complete each task, we split into our given committees. It is the job of the programming committee to program the robot using Simulink. They have a mock up of the robot in the form of the brain, battery, and necessary motors on a plank to make sure they run to the correct controls. It is the build committee’s job to build the robot that the whole team designed and fix any issue that arises. As both of these teams complete their task it is up to the engineering notebook committee to document the process of how it happens and compile all the information so someone else could follow the same process and reach the same result.
The engineering process begins in the off-season by discussing general improvements we would like to make to the robot this year. We used this time to set up and practice on equipment we would need in order to achieve these goals. When the challenge was revealed, we experimented on the field to get initial ideas for our design. At the first meeting, we broke down the competition and discussed how to strategically approach each task. Once the tasks are set we test different designs for the robot to approach the problem from multiple views. We then present our ideas and talk about their individual strengths and weaknesses. Finally, we selected a design for each component of the robot that we felt was the most effective. We built a first version of the robot, following our plans and noting any adjustments that we needed to make. After this, we tested the functions of all the components, and noted what needed adjustments. Finally, we adjusted each component and tested them repeatedly until we were satisfied with the result.
The programming team was tasked with writing and designing a code in Simulink. This included keeping in touch with the build and rules team to ensure the code was optimized for rule cooperation. The programming team also was responsible for designing a code that was easiest for our drivers to control the robot. Lastly, the programming team was charged with recording all of their design processes for writing a code optimized for the game. Finally, the programming team composes a document for the Engineering Notebook team, describing the process they used to create the program, and detailing how the program works.
The process of learning and using simulink was fun and rewarding for the programming team. They started off by using tutorials to learn the program. Then they began testing their knowledge by creating a simple code for a basic robot. Next they were tasked with coding the real hawks robotics robot. They completed this task and used both in-house simulations and a real motor test to ensure their program met the requirements of the robot.
Encompassing 30% of the Robotics Team score, the Engineering Notebook has a substantial amount of responsibilities, most of which focus on the build team. Chiefly, members of the notebook serve to record build team meetings, document the brainstorming process and robot construction via a combination of writing and photos, and convert all of the raw information into a narrative format in the notebook. Other responsibilities of the Notebook team include writing a research paper that talks about how the issue of ocean garbage is being solved in real life, and how robotics can and are being used to supplement the process.
One of the first processes started by the Notebook was looking at winning notebooks from last year, taking inspiration from those notebooks, and layering our own writing philosophy over them. Before any formal writing commenced, the team formulated a Table of Contents as a template to know what sections of the Notebook to focus on first. The core parts of the robot––the research paper team strategy, and robot components––received the most attention from the team. As we went into the actual writing, members of the notebook team continued to keep a tab on build team endeavors, making sure that what was written was up to date.
The marketing department is tasked with convincing the world that our company has created the best, most cost efficient product, worthy of investments. We’re responsible for knowing everything that went into the design and building of the product. Having a good grasp on the design and build process — the objective of the robot, different designs that were considered, and the reasons and the benefits of the final design — is one of the biggest parts of marketing. We cannot effectively push a product that we don’t understand, which is the other big part of our job. The department organizes community outreach events to publicize the robotics team and everything it has to offer, which, in turn, creates an interest and garners investments.
The marketing process starts with an understanding of the context of a product. This goes back to the idea that we can’t sell something we don’t understand. We must research the intended task for the robot, the demand for a robot with its specific functions, and open lines of communication with the other departments. The next step is to set up a timeline and plan when we are going to do what kind of outreach. For the final marketing presentation, the team must come up with the most effective way to communicate with and pitch to investors. The hardest part of the presentation is balancing information density with attention retainment. The presentation must be informative, but not boring. We look at what has and hasn’t worked and continuously edit our process to produce the most efficacious results: to bring in investments.
Trade Show Exhibit
The booth team is in charge of creating an exhibit that presents all aspects of the robotics team to the community. The booth exemplifies the theme in a creative but practical way by showcasing our ideas for the problem at hand. We like to include a variety of media in the exhibit to try and showcase all of the achievements we have completed that year. Each year, we continue to improve our booth by adding materials and making the most out of what we have. This year, we were able to construct the booth completely out of wood which allowed us to implement new forms of showcasing our products. We were also able to reuse our materials from the robot to stay environmentally friendly.
The process for the booth begins before the season starts. Based on what we see in the preview we start to brainstorm potential ideas and start general things. After kickoff we had a week where we brainstorm, begin our plans for community outreach, and review our scoresheets from the previous year. During this week we also create a series of checklist through communicating on Slack breaking everything down into simple individual tasks. We then start research, and assign a few to work on immediate physical tasks such as painting. As the design process continues forward we have a final design that we reference as we paint and create other elements that are going to be part of the booth. We then finish and proofread the information and compile everything in the booth making minor adjustments based on creating a booth that is easy to move around in. We finish by practicing our presentation inside the booth.