Montgomery County MD Advocacy Day 2016

Last week the Walt Whitman Team attended the FIRST National Advocacy Conference.  We did a good bit of learning and are ready to take what we learned and apply it to the County level.

 

We want to get as many of the team in the county to participate in the county advocacy day we are scheduling for July 18th. Our plan is to talk to the following folks

 

Here are the actions we have

  • We need to identify what teams are going to participate
  • We need to agree on the asks
    • Make Robotics a sport in MoCo
    • Help us define how the $250,000 in robotics funds should be managed / dispersed
    • Help us define how the ESSA title 4A funds should be dispersed at the state level
    • Help us get the $125,000 of county funds approved for 2017-2018
  • We need to create a one sheeter for the day that includes
    • What is FIRST
    • The MoCo robotics foot print
    • The impact of robotics programs on students
    • The federal and state funds that are available
    • The Ask and outcomes
  • We need to get the meetings scheduled
  • We need to schedule a planning meeting to plan the day and so some practice run through

 

On the 27th we held a planning call with other MoCo teams

 

Walt Whitman Attending the 2016 National Advocacy Conference

A week ago the team got together at the 2016 National Advocacy conference.  The team received training on several topics, practiced our pitches and networked with teams from across the county.  This is the second year the team has attended the conference and had two students get real world experience working with Maryland’s federal delegation.

We partnered with students from team 1629 and 1111 to meet with Rep. Donna Edwards, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Sen. Benjamin Cardin to discuss FIRST Robotics, education (ESSA and Title IV Part B in particular), and the expansion of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs.  All of the folks representing Maryland were receptive to this message, however the informed us that getting the full 1.65 billion appropriation would be tough.  Here are some specifics on the ask;

  • The newly enacted bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes a flexible block grant program under Title IV Part A, which is authorized at $1.65 billion in FY 2017. Title IV, Part A authorizes activities in three broad areas:
  • Well-rounded education including programs in STEM
  • Safe and healthy students/schools
  • Technology (professional development, blended learning, and devices
    • Districts can use Title IV Part A grants to provide students with a well-rounded education and improve instruction and student engagement in STEM by:
    • Expanding high-quality STEM courses;
      • Increasing access to STEM for underserved and at risk student populations;
      • Supporting the participation of students in STEM nonprofit competitions (such as robotics, science research, invention, mathematics, computer science, and technology competitions);
      • Providing hands-on learning opportunities in STEM;
      • Integrating other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM subject programs;
      • Creating or enhancing STEM specialty schools;
      • Integrating classroom based and afterschool and informal STEM instruction; and
      • Expanding environmental education.
    • The Title IV Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichments Grants combines (and eliminates) several targeted programs under No Child Left Behind, including the Math and Science Partnership Grants. The Math and Science Partnership grants, which received $152.7M in FY2016, was the largest single program at the Department devoted exclusively to STEM.
    • The President’s FY 2017 budget proposal would provide $500 million for the Title IV A flexible block grant, less than one-third of the authorized $1.65 billion level. of the three listed priorities, or specific activities within one of the priorities.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill in early June to appropriate $300M for Title IV A.
  • Fully fund ESSA Title IV, Part A Student Support and Academic Enhancement Grants at the authorized level of $1.65 billion through regular appropriation bills or through the CR process.

If you would like to learn more about the National Advocacy Conference please check out these materials.

After hitting the hill the team and out 2016 robot Maelstrom relaxed and met with staffers in a more informal setting. As bonus we were lucky enough to meet and talk with Dean Kamen, Senetor Franken from Minnesota and a few other folks that are making big waves on Capital Hill.

20160621_170057 20160621_170119 20160620_114904 20160621_185428 20160621_184952 20160621_184923 20160621_184717 20160621_184537 20160621_184528 20160621_183403 20160621_183322 20160621_182552 20160621_182419 20160621_182116 20160621_181124 20160621_180912 20160621_175834 20160621_170120

 

 

Maryland Joins a Short List of States Who Fund Robotics K-12 Programs

Over the past several months, FRC and FTC teams from across Maryland have been working with state level law makers to Establishment of Robotics Grants Program.  Last week, Karen Salmon from the Maryland State Deputy Superintendent of Education informed us that the Robotics Grant Program is a go and that it will be funded to the tune of $250,000 starting July 1st 2017.  The details about how team can access the funds are are going to be worked out over the next year and team’s will be able to apply for the funds starting next summer.  Thanks for all of the hardwork Delegates Reznik, Barkley, Barve, Brooks, Ebersole, Glenn, Jalisi, Kipke, Lam, McKay, Pena–Melnyk, and K. Young on the Maryland House side as well as the Nancy King on the Maryland Senate Side.  The bill calls for the creation of a grants program through the Department of Education to provide much needed financial assistance to robotics programming throughout the state.  The full text of each bill can be found here HB 115 and SB 582.

Next up, Getting the State of Maryland to declare Robotics a sport so that robotics teams across the state can get access to the funding and administrative support they need to take their game to the next level.

 

Shop Cleaning

Over the last two weeks of school the team has been cleaning and organizing the shop.  The team has realized that we want to get event more organized than we were this year. We have also realized that we have a lot of stuff we no longer need.  With those thing said the team has put together a plan to make those two things happen.

  • This fall we are going to organize a swap meet for any robotics program to come and pick through our excess inventory and take what they needs so that we can help programs in the area.  Special preference will be given to rookie and struggling teams.  Some examples of items we have to much of are batteries, motors, motor controllers, legacy control system components.
  • This fall we are going to purchase more roll out organizing shelves and organizing bins so we can make our remaining inventory as easy to find and use as possible.  We are going to couple this organizational effort with a massive amount of labeling to make navigating the shop room easier for everyone. We think this will go a long way towards not wasting time trying to fin things that are not put away properly.

 

 

2016-2017 Team Plan

The team had a meeting a few weeks back where discussed how we would make our 2016 2017 goals a reality. One of the first things we did was modify our goals a bit after thinking about them for two weeks.

  • Raise $50,000, create a budget and be within 10% of the budget
  • Create a larger and more diver core group with a minimum of 4 people on each sub team
  • Ensure that leadership team and that each sub team has at least one female
  • Win district and district championship
  • Have 3 major impacts on the community
  • Transfer knowledge to more incoming students
  • Prepare more underclassman for leadership positions

 

We made the change to make the goal more measurable. We also focused our efforts for next season on the following;

  • Win the EI award
  • Spend more time prototyping for every aspect of the robot
  • Build two robots
  • Raise $20,000
    • $5,000 for District Championships
    • $10,000 for World Championships
    • $5,000 for second robot
  • Host a district event
    • Raise $10,000 on behalf of the event

 

To make the above happened the team talked about what we were going to do with the last month of school.

  • Repair Drivetrains
  • Tune up robots
  • Do outreach to local fabrication companies
  • Cleanup Lab

 

The team then talked about what we would be doing over the summer with the limited amount student who are available to make the goals real

  • Schedule a Drive Day at the STEMAction center in Columbia – Joey
  • Schedule a Pyle Drive Day – Jonah, Joey
  • Define CAD Projects – Joey, JJ
    • CAD project 1 – CAD the 2016 robot in solid works by the end of July
    • CAD 3 drive trains in full detail and include all electrical systems, wire routing and mechanical systems by the end of August
      • West coast inline drop 6 with 4” solid wheels
      • Swerve
      • H-drive
    • Complete a Vision Project
      • Identify and track 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 targets
    • Fund raise $6,000
    • Secure a Sheet metal fabrication sponsor
    • Lay the ground work to start 1 FTC team and 2 FLL teams
      • FTC at Pyle
      • FLL at Davis Library and Wyngate Elementary School
    • Repair current robots
      • Liftzilla – encoder controlled lifter, ecoder controlled drive, build bumpers
      • Maelstrom – functioning turret, vision code, autonomous modes, rewire, add climber
    • Do advocacy work at the Federal, State and county level
    • MD Federal representatives June 19-22
      • Part of FRC Team 27 National Advocacy Conference
    • Mo Co county – July 18th
      • County Board
      • County Executive
      • County School Board
      • County Dept. of Health & Human Services
      • County Dept. of Economic Development
    • Mo Co State representative – August 8th
    • MD Dept. of education – August 15th
    • MD Governor – August 15th

 

The team also laid out the plan for the Fall

  • Attend 3 off seasons
  • Create a 2016-2017 budget
    • Measure spending according to the budget
    • Create a part purchasing process that is tied to the budget
  • Increase the number of talks
  • Incorporate VEX robots into fall projects
    • Purchase 2-3 vex kits, $2,000 per kit
    • Host robot build off for underclassmen
  • Host Java training for MoCo teams
  • Host CAD training for MoCo teams
    • Create CAD projects due in Dec 2016
  • Host Safety training in Sept so students can use tools early
  • Start Awards in the fall
    • Finish drafts by December
  • Sign up 100 students at Clubs night
  • Track and measure freshman retention
  • Setup an Agile work board for defining and distributing tasks
    • 2 people’s names need to be on each ticket that is in work
  • Assign each new member an experienced buddy member
  • Raise $20,000 for build season
  • Recruit 2 more mentors
    • Electrical
    • Programming
  • Mentor FLL and FTC teams
  • Plan a district event

 

Here are the raw notes from the meeting

13263846_10205877277921997_241390189371850424_n 13227203_10205877277601989_6071872830698096249_n 13239452_10205877278001999_5658674216731132839_n 13239451_10205877277041975_7318051215769382028_n 13260048_10205877277121977_4859980910482509451_n 13233017_10205877277281981_1398906544241777288_n 13227031_10205877277361983_7347535099266135122_n 13227109_10205877277521987_9144440749052259960_n

Regional Manufacturing Institute 2016 Gala

A few weeks ago the Walt Whitman Robotics team joined nearly a dozen STEM programs at the Regional Manufacturing Institute 2016 Gala.  The May 26 Gala looked to the Future of Maryland Manufacturing and brought over 75 students together to demonstrate robotics, drones, 3D printing, coding and STEM projects, and to meet manufacturers.  The Gala also connected manufacturers from across Maryland to celebrate what they do, and remind the media and our policy markers why manufacturing is critical to Maryland’s future economic competitiveness.  Other speakers at the Gala included:

Calvin G. Butler Jr., CEO, BGE
Anirban Basu, President, Sage Policy Group
Demian Costa, Managing Partner, Sagamore Ventures
Honoree: Drew Greenblatt, President Marlin Steel Wire Products

Thanks to RMI for inviting us to attend.

20160526_173430 20160526_173438 20160526_173452_1  20160526_175405 20160526_183125 20160526_193348_1 20160526_193401