Introductory Post (Part 1)
The Mechadogs is based out of a former automotive repair shop in Yonkers Middle-High School, located in the third-largest city in New York State: Yonkers. We were founded in 2014 when the IB Physics teacher Adam Thiessen agreed to being the lead mentor for the team (and still is as of 2023!) when 3 ambitious YHS students approached him about forming the team. Since our school’s mascot is a bulldog, it was only natural that we made our logo a dog, reflecting our strong ties to Yonkers and our school.
Currently, our team has a total of 35 members. 14 members are department directors and 2 members are co-captains. We have 4 Mechadogs alumni who act as student mentors, and 3 adult mentors who are teachers from YHS (including Thiessen). Our team runs on a departmentalized structure, with there being 5 departments, 2 safety officers, and 2 co-captains. Teamwide elections determine who receives the positions, with each candidate being able to present their qualifications before voting happens. Here’s a breakdown of each department’s responsibilities and their leaders:
Co-Captains: Asenath Jacob and Ulizes Atlixqueño
The co-captains disseminate and receive information across all team departments, acting as the main administrators of the team. All department directors are responsible to the co-captains and mentors. To be chosen as a co-captain, a member must have served as a department director already.
Safety Officers: Adrian Vazquez and Nayana Zacariah
Safety officers are tasked with not just enforcing proper safety protocol, but also making sure everyone feels safe in the lab. We function on a Three Strike system, where members who commit a serious safety infraction (such as injuring someone else, being intentionally reckless, ignoring safety protocols despite being reminded by others) are given one strike. When a member reaches three strikes, the safety officer makes sure that member is removed from any work and is sidelined for the remainder of the meeting they received their 3rd strike and the next meeting. The member who reached three strikes must also write down what they did wrong to reach three strikes, as well as a basic plan for how they will avoid committing serious safety infractions in the future. This system is designed to cultivate safety awareness while discouraging potentially dangerous ignorance of standard conduct in the Mechadogs lab. Finally, safety officers coordinate initiatives like our MechaSafety Guide series, which seeks to educate the FIRST community about safety protocol with guides on how to properly use tools (i.e. crimps), what is proper conduct (i.e. alway wearing gloves/goggles), and the fundamentals of safety (Environment awareness and self-awareness).
Mechanical Department Directors: Mansib Anan and Devyn DeLuise
The mission of the mechanical department is to curate the stationary systems of the robot. Building the stationary systems of the robot entails building non-moving elements of the robot such as the chasse and a simulated physical model of the arena in which our robot will be performing in. Before building the finalized stationary systems of the robot, the mechanical department constructs a prototype of our robot design to assess the feasibility of the CAD design and make necessary adjustments to the prototype. This process of testing results in a finished robot that has minimal structural flaws and can adequately support other components of the robot, such as dynamic systems and the electrical board.
Motion Department Directors: Joyal Paul and Nayana Zacariah
The mission of the motion department is to curate the dynamic systems of the robot. Building the dynamic systems of the robot entails building moving elements of the robot such as wheels or tracks, the pneumatics system, and any other moving parts relevant to a specific FRC game condition (such as a climbing mechanism). Before building the finalized dynamic systems of the robot, the motion department constructs a prototype of the major moving parts to assess the feasibility of the CAD design and make necessary adjustments to the prototype. This process of testing results in dynamic systems that are fine-tuned and will not be overclocked easily. Motion works closely with Mechanical.
Design Department Directors: Anushka Singh and Adrina Tiju
The mission of the design department is to curate a detailed model of our robot which contains the major stationery and dynamic components. In the preliminary stages of the design process, our robot model is drawn in rough sketches that contain approximated measurements. After revision by the department directors, our robot model is gradually designed in CAD software like Fusion360 and Onshape. CAD software is utilized for our finalized model because it allows for a multitude of components to be separately modeled and combined into a singular design, resulting in a cohesive overview of the robot which can be easily brought to fruition.
Marketing Department Directors: Adrian Vazquez and Nayab Khan
The mission of the marketing department is to curate an authentic image for the Mechadogs through outreach on a local, statewide, nationwide, and international level. The marketing department acts as the external link between the team and the general public by communicating with prospective sponsors and organizing the logistics of outreach events and financial records. Marketing revolves around maintaining an excellent image of our team that will cultivate prosperous relations with sponsors and generates interest in STEM and robotics within the community at large. Communication is conducted through social media platforms such as TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Gmail, etc. to maximize the audience that knows what the Mechadogs represents.
Control Department Directors: Nicholas Schnorbus and Jireh Ayertey
The mission of the control department is to curate a functional code and electrical systems that allow our robot to complete basic actions like moving. The control department uses Java to code the robot in conjunction with a RoboRio and electronics to produce a “neural network” that allows for the specialization of inputs for the robot. The control department is essential for the robot to function in a driverless state during competition and create a catalyst for the main function of the mechanisms built by the mechanical department and the motion department.
Each member (excluding most department directors and the co-captains) have a primary department and secondary department. A primary department member takes on more in-depth tasks for that department, while a secondary department member takes on less in-depth (though equally important) tasks for that department. Here’s an example: A member’s primary department is Marketing and secondary department is Mechanical. This means that the member, during meetings, will report to the Marketing department directors to receive lessons/tasks and complete those tasks. These tasks will be more complex than the tasks a member whose secondary department is Marketing would receive. Then, when that member is finished with their Marketing tasks for the day, they move to their secondary department (Mechanical), where they fulfill a pre-established set of tasks/roles that is up to the discretion of the Mechanical department directors. This system allows for the maximum utilization of work potential and creates Mechadogs versed in multiple areas of hands-on robotics, greatly expanding and sustaining the long-term experience pool of the team as a whole.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our introductory post, where we will go into a record of our community outreach initiatives, sponsor history, and much more!