One of my passions in life is giving back to the community, so I will be sharing with you some of the fun activities that our employees are participating in and how we are helping others to organize aspects of their life. For my 1st blog post, I wanted to let everyone know an intense competition that some local high school students participate in.
The first event I am writing about is the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). I am a former accountant and current marketer, so robotics/engineering/sciences is very foreign to me but I still found this competition very fascinating. The best way to describe FRC is that it combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand”, hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real-world” engineering as a student can get. In FRC, high school aged students from around the world design and build robots to perform a specific mission during an intense six weeks in January and February. The teams then compete in Regional and International competitions in March and April. I am an athlete, so I can understand the intense passion that these students must have for their “sport”. I have included a picture so that you can see what one of these robots looks like. Very complicated, eh?!
Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team. Newell Rubbermaid employees (Matt Nicholls, Michael Drum, and Clayton Kirschner) volunteered their time this year to help the students of Pine Lake Preparatory (a local public school near our office).
“Team Spork” is made up of 31 high school students from Pine Lake that devote time to gain skills in programming, web design, engineering, computer graphics, teamwork, and entrepreneurial business. In 2010, FIRST Team SPORK earned the All-Star Rookie and the Best Regional Website Awards. This year, they were able to win the Imagery and Creativity Award. It is very rare for a young team to win so many awards. This team dedicated an amazing amount of time to the project; over 200 hours during the 6 week build time. To aid this dedicated team of students, the Newell Rubbermaid employees came in and taught the students a great organization tip. It started with teaching them how to use 3D modeling software. Prior to learning the software, the students were using random sheets of paper to draw on. Sometimes these pieces of paper were scrap and then got lost over time. Other times, designs would come out incorrect when translated from the drawing to the physical part. The new software skills helped the students organize their manufacturing method, which in turn, saved the team valuable time and resources. This is especially important since teams only get six weeks to create the robot. Included is a link to Team Spork's website if you'd like to get some more information on them.
Thank you to Matt, Michael, and Clayton for teaching CAD to the students so that they could save time for what really matters. Congratulations to the Pine Lake students for earning 4 awards in the past 2 years.