Team Number: 87
Team Name: Lockheed Martin, Comcast, NAVSEA & NDEP, CPS Metals, AndyMark, Chick-fil-A, & Rancocas Valley Regional High school
Team Location: Mount Holly, NJ USA
Rookie Season: 1997
Team Nickname: Diablo
Team Motto: “FIRST you go to Robotics, and then you can go ANYWHERE!”
Rancocas Valley Robotics was founded in 1997 by Wayne “Schmitty” Smith, a shop teacher at RV, and Ron Macintosh, a Technology Education teacher at RV. Under their tutelage, the team experienced the growing pains that any rookie team goes through. At the start of the 2000/2001 school year, John Jeffries, an Earth science teacher, took leadership of the team. Then in the 2003/2004 school year, Mr. Harvey Hans, an engineering teacher, and Mr. Don Arter, a graphic arts teacher, took over as head advisors. Mr. Hans assumed the role as the team’s sole advisor in the 2006 school year. Our main sponsor for most of the team’s existence has been Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ. There are a number of local establishments that have assisted the team over the years financially. Most recently, Lockheed Martin, Comcast, NAVSEA & NDEP, and Chick-fil-A assisted the team with financial support with payments of registrations fees and other financial donations. CPS Metals, Lockheed Martin, and AndyMark assisted with the much needed parts and metal donations.
FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, was founded by Dean Kamen. The ideals of FIRST are best illustrated by this quote from their website: “The FIRST Robotics Competition is an exciting, multinational competition that teams professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem in an intense and competitive way. The program is a life-changing, career-molding experience—and a lot of fun.” The RVR Robotics Team has a fall phase of the team that operates from September to mid-December. During the fall phase, the members work on the new “Vex Challenge” program, participate in learning and team building opportunities, and off season events associated with the FIRST Robotics Competition. This is the time period when dedication, grades and team performance are monitored very closely to make sure students are up to the standards of the team.
Close attention is paid to the attendance at mandatory and voluntary events such as fund raisers and local replay competition events. Robot maintenance and some training will take place during this time. This probationary period is also a time for students to experience team activities and to determine if this activity is for them. There will be an interview in December that will be a review of your activities to that point. At this time you will either be placed on the official travel team or you will become a non-traveling member of the team. Our real work (and the real fun) occurs in January, February, and March when we get the new competition, build the robot, and compete with it. The team usually attends one or two regionals and a Nationals/championship if money allows. The FIRST Robotics Competitions are a Saturday event, usually held the weekend following the end of the New Year holiday period. The kickoff takes place in Manchester, NH, but is broadcasted via NASA Satellite TV to a number of remote kickoff sites. RVR attends either the Philadelphia or New Jersey remote kickoffs.
At Kickoff, a number of speakers will address the audience, a new kit of parts items will be shown, and the game will be introduced. It is important that all students get to see the game introduction so that they understand how the game is played. Additionally, the team will pick up the kit of parts and may attend some seminars at the remote kickoff. On the return ride from kickoff, the team will discuss the game and start to formulate a plan.
The Breakfast Club is a time for students to interact with the engineers and the advisors/mentors from RVRHS while working on the robot at shop. The Breakfast Club meets in E-134 on Saturday mornings at 8:00am prior to working on the robot. The Breakfast Club usually starts in January and continues until the robot is shipped. Other dates may be added as needed to work on the FIRST project. Transportation to the Breakfast Club location and the work site is the responsibility of the parents and the students.
Parents are welcome to stay, have breakfast, and to join us to work on the robot. The team and the parents will pay for the cost of the breakfast. Generally, after breakfast, the team works at the RVRHS location until 4:00 or 5:00 pm. The Breakfast Club is a significant element in the growth of the team member. This is the best opportunity for the student to work on the robot and get to learn more about engineering. This is the focus of the program and every effort should be made to attend as often as possible.
During January and February, the team will design and build the robot. The robot will be based on the current year’s game and will likely vary greatly from other robots before it. The robotics build season is short and contains a number of tasks that need to be accomplished. Because of the time constraint, the team tends to work late into the night, 6 days a week.
During the initial week and a half of the build season, the entire robotics team will meet as a group to understand the competition, develop game strategies, and develop a high level plan for the robot. After this, the sub-teams will meet by themselves and do their own work.
In the last two weeks of the season, the various teams building the robot and the control systems will get together to integrate all the pieces onto a single robot, addressing any issues that develop. In the last week, the entire team will come together to complete all of the final tasks and ship the robot. At that point, we should be able to practice and test the robot. After the robot ships, we will do final preparations for the competition and be ready for our first regional. All students are required to participate in all team fundraising activities. The funds raised are typically used as robot building costs, as well as for student expenses while we are traveling. Travel costs are supplemented by money from the team treasury, obtained as a part of our sponsorship grant.
Every student has an individual fundraising account maintained by the coaches. Profits made from fundraisers are accumulated in these accounts and spent as travel expenses with the team. The lead advisor/faculty member, Mr. Hans, and a lead engineer run the team from Lockheed Martin’s ATLP program. They are responsible for ensuring that all the students have a successful, fun, and safe experience on the RVR Robotics team. In addition, these individuals are responsible for the success of the program to the RVRHS administration and Board of Education, as well as Lockheed Martin management. The RVR Robotics Team is made up of several sub-teams, all of which are required to get the FIRST project completed. By dividing into specialized groups, students are able to focus on specific aspects of the project. New members are always welcome to join the RV Robotics Team.