2013 Chairman’s Award

Team Name

Sauer-Danfoss/Quality Manufacturing Corporation/Iowa State College of Engineering/CIT Signature Transportation/John Deere/jcpenney/City of Ames Electric Department & Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Story County 4-H

Impact on Team Members

When we were building the robot, we learned how to use the CNC mill in ISU’s Boyd lab. This is one piece of equipment among many in the shop that we can now use comfortably. Experiences such as this have translated into our daily lives allowing us to pursue leadership roles and opportunities to expand our horizons. Working with a team in a professional setting prepares us for future careers and our partnership with the university creates a less stressful transition from high school to college.

Role Model Characteristics

A lot of people find themselves joining FRC for a variety reasons; not all are related to robots. People bring high spirits, active learning, fun personalities, and lots of interests to our team each day. All team members are dedicated, hardworking and passionate about FIRST. Leadership emerges, skills are learned, and passions are discovered or expanded. Others want to be a part of this and everyone is inspired. These traits were passed on to the next generation of Team Neutrino members.

Impact on Community

Due to the appealing factor of FRC our original 9 member team has grown into 16. Team Neutrino has created a home for local FLL teams to continue their passion in STEM. Our partnership with Iowa State University, 4-H and local schools is creating a dialogue to benefit the community. Within just two years of having an FRC team in Ames, many businesses have begun to show support for FIRST’s endeavors. The City of Ames is even on board, purchasing of light bulbs annually.

Innovative Methods to Spread FIRST

Being one of the few FRC teams in Iowa, Team Neutrino has our work cut out for us to spread the FIRST message. We take every opportunity to present and demonstrate the robot. If there isn’t an opportunity, we make one. Opportunities include: Iowa FLL State Championship, STEM Day at the Capitol, and the Iowa State Fair. Our most innovative method came in 2012, when Team Neutrino planned and implemented a two week summer class geared towards elementary and middle school students.

Strength of Partnership

Our Rookie Season started with a partnership with Ames High School. Due to unforeseeable circumstances, Team Neutrino lost this partnership. We came back stronger than ever! We are excited to be developing our new partnerships with Iowa State University College of Engineering and Story County 4-H. Many previous sponsors are even more committed and we gained numerous others, all with strengthened resolve. Our professionalism and positive image helps maintain these strong ties.

Communication Methods

The team communicates internally through a Google Group EMail list and Google Apps account. We maintain digital communication through our website, Twitter, and Facebook Page. This does not replace our physical presence in the community; we believe in face to face interactions. Many businesses are too busy to visit us, but are excited to support FIRST when they witness the results firsthand through demonstrations and presentations.

Other Considerations

Our team is very special in Iowa. In our rookie year, we were the fourth FRC team in the state and now there are six. We helped inspire the creation of a nearby team by showing them our robot from the previous year. One of our mentors continues to shape their development. Our team benefits from the FLL programs in our area as well as ISU student mentors from all over the country, who have a wealth of experience in FIRST and are excited to give back.

Main Essay

*FIRST: A Circle of Inspiration*

Every year FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams are challenged with not only building a robot, but working together as a team to accept others’ ideas. Team Neutrino has pushed the limits of teamwork, engineering skills, and creativity and added in dedication and hard work to engineer a cutting-edge robot that we are all proud of calling our own. Sharing our love of FIRST and FRC has been a passion of ours from the beginning. Many of our members were involved in FIRST LEGO League (FLL) when they were younger and continue on to become a student mentor and later an adult volunteer. You might call this a circle of inspiration, going from the youngest student to the adult and back.

“It’s a win-win for employees. Sometimes they start when their kids are in the program. The kids get older and are out of the program, but the adults keep doing it,” Pat Barnes, Global STEM Director at our professional partner John Deere, said. “It’s amazing to see the excitement level that FIRST provides for different programs for kids and the volunteers. It provides real-world, hands-on learning and experience working as a team.”

As one of the six FRC teams in Iowa, we are privileged to be able to be a part of this circle of inspiration. We inspire FLL teams and the general public in our outreach activities and volunteer efforts. In turn we are inspired by our mentors and sponsors who give generously of their time and energy.

*FIRST 90 degrees: Spreading the FIRST Love*

One of our ways in which we helped to spread our FIRST love was to increase the presence of our team through various forms of communications such as a team website (www.teamneutrino.org) and Facebook page. Our website provides information from daily updates during the build season to the history of the team. We also expanded to Twitter to post daily progress of our robot and future outreach activities. The team sent emails to sponsors, local businesses, and the community to raise awareness of our teams progress and community involvement. In addition to digital communications, we had a physical presence in the community by visiting sponsors. This allowed businesses like Quality Manufacturing to put a name with a face and see what their generosity has enabled Team Neutrino to accomplish. Team Neutrino’s professional conduct has attracted the support of many local businesses and community members.
Our team was also involved with our school communities to get more students and administrators interested in FIRST Robotics. We started with promoting our team and FIRST to elementary children to inspire them to get involved in the science community. We also drove the robot and demonstrated the Rebound Rumble game format for the Ames Middle School and the Nevada Middle School’s nine FLL Teams and school administration. Students were excited and amazed to see a robot shooting basketballs in a sports-like demonstration. Our team also presented the robot during a weekly teachers’ meeting to gain more support from the staff members in maximizing our potential to create a positive impact in the community. As a result of last year’s outreach activities, when the 2013 FRC robot season started, Team Neutrino more than doubled in size, gaining ten new members, six of whom were freshmen. We hope this year’s efforts continue to inspire and yield the same results.
In addition to the schools, we raised the general public’s awareness of FIRST through events such as: the 4th of July Parade, the Iowa Science Center Robotics Day, the Iowa 4-H Bratney Robotics Challenge at the Iowa State Fair, STEM Day at the Capital, and Iowa FLL State Championship. These demonstrations were viewed by people of all ages. Several members who had not yet heard about the robotics community came up to us and could not believe that the robot was built by high school students in under eight weeks.

*FIRST 180 Degrees: Volunteering in Our Communities*

While it is important to share the values and inspiration of FIRST through our robot, we volunteer our time in many community events to forge new paths and partnerships. One primary goal was to get young students inspired and to become involved in FLL, the field of robotics, and to be leaders in this innovative field.
Team Neutrino taught summer classes in the Ames Community School District’s Super Summer camp, a Talented and Gifted program designed to get elementary and middle school students excited about a wide range of topics. In our two week long class, students learned how to build a LEGO Mindstorms robot and program it using the basics of programming, such as using the “loop function” with sensors to create a wall-avoidance robot. The camp culminated in the students being challenged in their newfound skills to assemble a basic robot and complete the previous year’s FLL missions. The interest in the class was so high that a second class was added. Based on this year’s results, we plan to continue and improve this program.
To continue the support of FLL during their Senior Solutions season, Team Neutrino volunteered in Iowa FLL tournaments and mock matches. Preparing the six Ames Middle School FLL teams ready for the regional competition, Team Neutrino refereed a mock match and presented our robot at the match. We sponsored the teams financially with funds we earned selling FIRST lightbulbs. In some instances, our involvement with FLL also extended to individual teams by providing them the resources to design a Project Presentation through drafting a model in CAD. At the Science Center of Iowa’s FLL regional tournament, team members refereed and judged. During the Iowa FLL State Championship, Team Neutrino had an interactive display explaining the upper level of FLL to the state competitors and other attendees. Those not crucial in helping present our robot volunteered at the event as judges, judges’ assistants, information booth managers, and Jr. FLL assistants.
During the Rebound Rumble offseason, Team Neutrino traveled to Des Moines, Iowa to share our rookie team’s robot at a local high school to inspire them to start the sixth FRC team in Iowa. From there, a Team Neutrino mentor assisted with the organization of the sixth FRC team in Iowa in Des Moines, CoLab #4646.
Outside of FIRST, our team has been active in becoming a 4-H club. To thank the Story County 4-H program, our team built doors for open cabinets located at the Extension office. This opportunity not only gave back to 4-H, but enabled our freshmen team members to gain hands on machining skills crucial to building a robot.

*FIRST 270 Degrees: Modeling Partnerships*

Team Neutrino suffered a devastating loss of our main partner, Ames High School, at the end of the Rebound Rumble season. We did not let this dampen our determination, instead, we worked tirelessly to develop new partnerships with organizations that will help sustain Team Neutrino. Our sustaining partners include the Story County 4-H Program and Iowa State University College of Engineering. This partnership with the College of Engineering for shop space and time was a crucial part that allowed our team to return to our second year of competition. In addition to finding sustaining partners, we have also worked hard to develop professional partnerships with local businesses and community members to provide monetary and in-kind support.
The Story County 4-H partnership provides us with the necessary liability insurance coverage, the nonprofit status, and an organizational structure for youth-adult partnerships. In an effort to adapt to a changing society, 4-H is embracing more of the technology based (or STEM) initiatives. Our partnership empowers, encourages and enables Team Neutrino to develop construction, business, and robotics skills.
Our professional partnerships are very important to us. We have sponsors that not only contribute financial support, but also in-kind support and experience. John Deere is a major corporate sponsor of many FRC teams. Not only have they contributed financially, they have also given us in-kind materials such as encoders. Quality Manufacturing, who works closely with John Deere, gives their time and materials to laser cut needed parts. Their contributions to a young team like ours allows us to acquire the necessary parts to compete with established teams.

*FIRST 360 Degrees: Words of Wisdom*

Though our team is only in our second season of FIRST Robotics Competition, the amount of team spirit is amazing. This may spring partly from our success at widening our circle of inspiration. We have started the next generation of FLL teams and left the general public in awe. We have forged new partnerships with 4-H and Iowa State University, granting us access to better labs and tools as well as experienced adult volunteers. Our sponsors, mentors and the community believe in and inspire us to achieve our full potential and to encourage others to do the same. This completes our circle of inspiration.