Our goal is to create a strong sustainable robotics team that will: (1) Welcome students and make them feel like an important part of the team, (2) Teach skills in technology, including mechanics, electronics, programming, Computer-aided Design, website building, animation, machining, creativity and other areas related to robotics competitions, (3) Teach associated skills including marketing, administration, communication, photography, leadership, budgeting, project planning and other areas necessary to run an FRC team, (4) Allow team members to work with adult mentors in engineering fields, and (5) Effectively compete while following the FIRST theme of Gracious Professionalism.
Red Storm was formed in 2010 when GE Aviation and Kentwood Public Schools were approached by FIRST of Michigan and asked to start an FRC team at East Kentwood High School. Both were happy to oblige, and GE remains one of our greatest sponsors. Our very first season started abruptly: the first time the brand new team met was three days before kickoff. Despite our rocky start, we worked hard during the build season to build the best robot we could with what little experience we had. Amazingly, at the West Michigan competition Red Storm was named Highest Rookie Seed and qualified for state. As excited as we were to have qualified, we were unable to go to the state competition due to our lack of funding. The fact that we didn’t have the resources to go as far in competition as we would have liked was disheartening, but we knew that if we wanted to succeed in the next season, we would have to stay positive and get more sponsors. Over the years, we have gained mentors with specialties in electrical, marketing, mechanical, and programming who assist us in the technical aspects of building a robot. Even with the help, in past years, Red Storm has finished building our root at the last minute nearly every season, leaving us little or no time to practice driving. This season, we worked on having a definitive design sooner so we would not have our first drive practice the day of competition.
Team 3875 is coached by East Kentwood High School’s retired shop teacher, Dan Boy, starting the 2015 season. We have 11 wonderful mentors that donate their time to help our team succeed. Our mentors, coach, and captains work together to make major team decisions, including managing the team budget. This year, our team decided that having two overall team captains would be most beneficial, one for the aspects directly related to production of the robot (mechanical, CAD, electrical, and programming) and one for “everything else” (web design, marketing, safety). At one of the first preseason meetings, all team members elected their student leaders, two for overall team captain, and one for each of six subgroups. Everyone who desires to be in a leadership position must fill out a written application and be approved by the mentors and coach. Everyone that is not a captain or a leader of one of the subgroups (marketing, website, mechanical, electrical, CAD, and programming) chooses one of the subgroups to work on. All team members understand the importance of recruiting new members, so we get the word out whenever possible. Each person on the team has a role to play and a job to do, and we appreciate every one.
We make sure that all relationships we make as a team are strong and built to last. Each of our sponsors that wants it can have us demo our finished robot at their place of business at the end of the season and is invited to attend our competitions to see where their help has gotten us. We keep sponsors – as well as parents – in the loop and involved in our design/build process. Many times during the season, we go out to do demos of our current and past robots for the community so people can be introduced to STEM, FIRST, and Red Storm. Our students and mentors are shown on a daily basis that they are appreciated and necessary to the success of Red Storm. Red Storm thinks that it is imperative to keep a positive attitude because positivity is contagious; nothing is done as well when team members and mentors are not happy. Keeping all of our relationships strong is the key to a successful robotics team.
Deployment of Resources
Every time we go out to introduce people to the STEM fields, we try to bring a robot from FTC and FRC so we can be the face of FIRST for our community. As big as FIRST is currently, Red Storm knows that it can be even better if it grows. To spread the message of FIRST and get others inspired and involved, Red Storm spends more time than money setting up demos in movie theaters, Metro Cruise, Mini Maker Faire, FTC competitions we host in our district, and science events in our community. Because we see today’s robotics team members as tomorrow’s engineers, we want everyone to get as much out of FIRST robotics as possible. To make sure this happens, Red Storm gives every student an opportunity to pursue their interests on the team. It may mean taking more time to train new members in particular areas, but everyone tends to work harder when they are doing something they like.
We are aiming to develop better social skills as a team and as individuals. To do this, we will require that each member of Red Storm participates in making at least one sponsor call and taking part in at least one presentation or demonstration of our robot. Another primary goal of ours is to build successful robots for years to come and advance to state each year. The way in which we plan to accomplish this is by maintaining our sponsors and mechanical mentors, learning as much as we can from both, and working hard at all times toward better understanding the mechanics and construction of a robot. This ensures that we will always keep learning and growing from past experiences. Also, we plan on establishing a good reputation for Red Storm by supporting the community through volunteering, outreach, and constantly being ambassadors of FIRST’s ideals, both on and off the field.
|Annual FIRST Registration/Kit of Parts||$5,000|
|Marketing Materials (T-Shirts, supplies, buttons, team promotions)||$1,150|
|Practice Field (Construction of)||$200|
|Services (Welding, cutting, fabrication, etc)||$1,000 (In-kind)|
|Competition (Food, transportation, lodging)||$1,500|
|Recognition (Dinner/awards/sponsor recognition||$605|
|State of Michigan||$1,500|
|Wendy Ljungren and Terry Mulkern||$200|
|Contribution from each student||$50|
|Peppino’s||Supplies pizzas at reduced price for weekend practices|
|Custom Profile||Specialized machining and metal|
|Alro||Plastics for cover|
|Kentwood Public Schools||Facility, transportation, staffing supplies|
Red Storm has numerous strengths that we attribute much our success to, particularly involving the members that make up our team. There are plenty of new recruits on our team this year, which means we have the potential for more returning members next year, as well as at least 8 experienced returning members assuming leadership positions within each subgroup this season. Also, we are very fortunate to have acquired dedicated mentors and a new coach, Mr. Boy, whose connections in the community enable us to obtain more sponsors. Our weaknesses include a lack of students in our marketing, electrical, and programming subgroups. In addition to this, the amount of sponsorships we’ve procured, although increasing, do not always provide us with the funds we need each year. Despite these weaknesses, there are many opportunities available to Red Storm, like increasing numbers of new recruits each year. These new members bring original ideas to each meeting and give us the chance to train more future recruits than we had in previous seasons. We also have solid practices in place for team bonding and organization. Lastly, our threats this season are the unwillingness or inability of companies to sponsor us, and other teams in our area that have been more successful in the past than we have. Our response to these threats involves searching elsewhere for sponsorships if businesses in our community aren’t willing or able to finance Red Storm. Additionally, even if we can’t determine the success of other teams, we can determine our own success through hard work and continuous improvement.