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The Daedalus Project – Team 2839

Our team is a part of a larger robotics group from Heritage K-8 Charter School and Escondido Charter High School. Our robotics program includes teams in FIRST LEGO League (FLL), FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). By engaging students early and offering opportunities to stay involved over time, we are getting students excited about science and engineering for their future study and professions.

Our robotics program got started in 2008-09, with a major grant from the Girard Foundation, along with funding from NASA, Qualcomm, Norson/Asymtek, Abbott Labs, and Teradata. In our first year, we fielded six JrFLL Teams, four FLL teams, 2 FTC teams, and one FRC team. As a rookie FRC team, we spent the off-season of our first year developing the team name, logo, image, and business plan. We also remodeled and painted our own shop and team room.  All of our teams’ names and designs are inspired by Greek mythology.  Our FRC team is The Daedalus Project, our FTC team is Kronos, and our FLL teams choose a name in the same vein, for example, one team this season was Odyssey.

In the off seasons we have visited sponsors events such as the Abbott Vascular Technology Expo, and BAE Systems Take Your Child to Work Day.   We have demonstrated our robots, and sometimes get a tour of the facilities.  The Del Mar Fair and the Escondido Street fair, the Escondido Amateur Radio Club, and the Escondido Republicans Club events where we have demonstrated our robot.

We also run qualifying tournaments for both the FIRST LEGO League and the FIRST Tech Challenge. Team members provide project management and coordinate the volunteers from both our FTC and FRC teams.  We are consistently noted as running a well organized event.  We have also provided assistance,loans of material, and advice to other teams who desire to host or run qualifying tournaments.

For the 2013 Ultimate Ascent our climbing robot, built with the indispensable help of two sponsors D & K Engineering and Asymtek.  After several setbacks on gripping the pyramid and climbing at the San Diego Regional, we were finally able to partially climb.  At the Arizona Regional we consistently climbed and we ended up placing second!  This was a great lesson in perseverance and triumph over adversity.

For the 2014 Aerial Assist, we designed a robot that would catch and deliver the ball to help our alliance robots score.  We made it to the quarterfinals.  It was this year that we had a large team and were able to organize into sub-teams: Media, Imagery, Safety, Electronics, Programming, and Fabrication.  Each of these has an adult mentor and a student leader, and students were assigned based on talents and interests.  Media revamped the website, with WordPress as its base.   They were also involved in photo and video productions for our FLL and FTC Qualifying Tournaments, our crowd funding campaign, and the Chairman’s Award video. The Imagery group is worked on costumes, alliance giveaways, and our pit structure. The Safety group produced safety videos and held safety meetings with the assistance of our mentor from Rockwell-Collins, and monitored safe practices while we worked. The Electronics group worked with the electronics package to ensure connectivity and functionality.  The Programming group worked with the swerve drive program, and the fabrication team built the robot.

For the 2015 Recycle Rush, our robot could stack crates and pick up and place the large recycle can.  We won the Creativity Award for our rotating lift bar and the 3-D printed hook designed and created by our team members.

This year we have reduced our sub-teams to Public Relations, Programming, Fabrication, Electronics, and Safety.  We are transitioning into a more student-led program, with our coach guiding the leadership group of upper classmen who then oversee the sub-teams with their own planned goals and objectives.  We have also taken a step back from running the FTC tournaments in order to teach (rather than do for) our Kronos members to be able to set up and take down, and run these tournaments themselves.  We have also provided considerable student mentorship for both our FTC and FLL teams, and field element fabrication when needed.

Our team this year is motivated and hard-working.  Our coach used the off-season to hold weekly meetings with the council to train them in leadership and management of their sub-teams by planning objectives and strategies for the season.  The team was also challenged to  individually and in groups design specifications and present ideas for various robotic skills, such as throwing an object of hanging from a bar.  This moved into creating and testing prototypes, all with team presentations and feedback.  Alternative designs for the same task created a sense of coopertition.  And individual presentations with every idea being “loved” for 5 minutes taught gracious professionalism.

This season’s FIRST Stronghold presents several challenges.  We are taking our team to the next level! We are working on our robot so it will be able to pick up, throw, go through to all the obstacles, score in both the high and low goals, and hang from the bar.  We plan to have a fast robot, proficient drivers, and programming to handle all of the variations of challenges on the field in order to work well with whatever teams we have in our alliance.