Thursday, March 22 , 2018, 8:36 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


DP Student Engineers Gearing Up for Robotics Competition

Community mentors provide a hand with preparations for the upcoming build season

On a chilly Monday evening, the sound of excited conversation spilled out from the Dos Pueblos High School cafeteria, where the seniors of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy had gathered with their mentors for dinner.

Now in its sixth year, the award-winning Team 1717 has come to a conclusion of its pre-season preparations for the FIRST Robotics build season, which begins in January.

Local industry members have stepped forward to help the students before and during the robot build season, including several mechanical engineers from Allergan Corp., a local medical device company, professional machinists from companies such as Las Cumbres Observatory, software engineers from Lockheed Martin and FLIR Systems Inc., and DPEA alumni.

One of the student groups is dedicated to learning Solidworks, a CAD (computer-aided design) software program used to design parts for the robot. During each of the Monday night practices, four mechanical engineers from Allergan teach the team how to use Solidworks by showing them new design techniques and assigning them increasingly complex assignments to complete. More than 400 hours of their personal time has been donated.

The design and framework of Team 1717’s Penguinbot would remain a virtual entity on computer screens if it weren’t for the combined effort of students and mentors on Team 1717’s mechanical team. Mentors for this design team range from UCSB graduate students to professional machinists, and they teach students how to manufacture robot parts with lathes and mills. One subset of the mechanical team specializes in transmissions.

For the first time in its five-year history, Team 1717 has a transmission team. DPEA Director Amir Abo-Shaeer formed the team as a response to last year’s failure of off-the-shelf transmissions. The team has been meeting with Shaeer to discuss the fundamentals of transmission design and to decide on a strategy for manufacturing. With the new team and his experience, and resources, it is unlikely that this Penguinbot will face the same problem as its predecessor.

Team 1717 also has a software team of six students who specialize in programming the robot. The programming team works closely with former team members as well senior software engineers who help teach students the basics of C++ programming and robot code functionality.

With all the preparations in top gear, Team 1717 is eagerly anticipating the arrival of this year’s competition. FIRST’s 2011 game will be released Jan. 8, kicking off Team 1717’s six-week build season of chaos, hard work and excitement.

— Megha Manjunath is a senior in the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.

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