Sunday, July 16, 2006

CalGames (October 27-28)

Dear gang,

Sorry I haven't had a chance to write back sooner!

It was really good to meet up at Google last Saturday with the CalGames folks from the Western Regional Robotics Forum ( Julia, just a warmning - the website sort of sucks. The information on it is outdated so I'll forward you information from Ceal Craig (one of the coordinators) after this email.

So, on the CalGames note, here are my thoughts:

I had lunch with Chrissy on Friday. She and I think it's going to take a lot of effort, and that we should make sure that we have a critical mass committed to doing this beforehand. This is not to be pessimistic or anything, but given that it is a volunteer-heavy event, if only like FIVE of us go, it's going to be painful. I *really* don't like it when someone commits me to doing / supporting something people don't pull through.

Kersten, I TOTALLY agree with you on the volunteering hours / community work thing. We can certainly recruit a lot of Casti students to come and the community hours thing is an incentive. Does the October 27-28 dates conflict with any school events?

On that note, I believe there is another option - if we DON'T want to enter as a team for the $600 entrance fee, there's nothing that says that we can't bring a gang of volunteers and new robotics rookies to HELP OUT! This would be low key, no prep in advance, and really great for exposing new students what a robotics competition is like, and of course, give them community service hours.

So here are my goals:

1. Bring at least 10 students to CalGames, of which at least 5 are new students. This is a great opportunity to expose newbies!

2. If we are serious about entering the competition, we should be serious about attempting to do well. I am not comfortable bringing new students to the competition and putting them at the wheel without at least attempting to leverage this opportunity to repair Rosie. I *do not* a new student's first experience with robotics to be a stressful one, where they watch us scramble before each match to make a new PVC chain tensioner. I just can't see myself being there watching that happen again.

If we don't have time to spend taking this competition seriously, we should considering going the less stressful route of putting our hearts into VOLUNTEERING FOR IT. I am not going to do anything half way.

3. Here are some realistic things that we can do to leverage this as a learning opportunity. Deadlines are GREAT for getting us to learn and getting us to do stuff during the off season.

* Build a new chassis. Kersten's learning to weld, and Julia is learning to put together weldment drawings in Solidworks. Chrissy has an Aluminum REM trip in the works. If we set aside some time and commit to this, I will do my part and convince Jimmy to give up a Saturday to work with you to design and weld an aluminum frame. This can be your test run before the US FIRST season. (Kersten, you'll discover that welding steel is a cinch, but aluminum is a whole another world that takes like years to learn)

* Improve the autonomous code and sensor / actuator systems. I'll work with Erin and Alecia to do this but this means we actually need a working robot that uh, drives straight when we ask it to.

My goal is help get people excited and bring people up to speed during the off season. CalGames can be the catalyst for that, but it doesn't need to be. Does that make sense? If CalGames takes all the wind out of me to coordinate and make happen, which means I have less time to teach people how to program, how to do electric stuff, gather materials and set up for the 2007, I would not be comfortable signing up.


Signing out,