5123 Mechadogs | 2023 Build Thread

Hello everyone! Welcome to the #openalliance build thread for FRC Team 5123, the Mechadogs, based in the workshop at Yonkers Middle-High School, Yonkers, NY, USA!

Our vision statement: “For the kids, for the culture, for the community.”
Our mission statement: “Our team strives to provide underserved communities in the city of Yonkers and the state of New York the opportunity to gain experience in STEM-related fields through hands-on, collaborative robotics and practices of entrepreneurship.”

We are excited to join the Open Alliance for our 2nd year as members of the OA and our 9th year competing! This thread will track anything and everything Mechadogs-related: build season updates and highlights, weekly series we host across our social medias, and much more!

To ensure you’re up-to-date with what the Mechadogs has accomplished so far in the #chargedup season, check out our Linktree: Mechadogs Robotics | Twitter, Instagram, TikTok | Linktree. Expect more to come!

~ Adrian | 5123

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Introductory Post (Part 1)

Team Origin

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.

Team Structure

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
Responsibilities:
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
Responsibilities:
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
Responsibilities:
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
Responsibilities:
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
Responsibilities:
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
Responsibilities:
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
Responsibilities:
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!

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3/30/23

Sorry for the wait! While we’ve been away, we’ve had a lot going on in the background on the technical and non-technical side. This includes:

  1. Implementation of weekly department performance reports, meant to increase interdepartment communication and cohesion.
  2. Planning and running our Yonkers YMCA clothing drive and our school bake sale.
  3. Creating a social media marketing strategy encompassing the regular management and maintenance of all our social media platforms.

And much more! Now that the NYC Armory Regional is coming up, we’re especially on crunch time - a great time to tell the Open Alliance and Chief Delphi all about what we’ve experienced in these past few hectic weeks. But before this, we’ll finish introducing ourselves!

Introductory Post (Part 2)

Outreach Initiatives

Throughout our history, we’ve had a wide variety of outreach initiatives. Some of our main initiatives include:

  1. PALbotics Summer Camp: A weeklong STEM camp that introduces middle schoolers to robotics through teaching principles of marketing, construction, programming, etc. Cancelled after COVID-19 outbreak, we hope to revive the idea behind PALbotics - giving underserved students the opportunity to experience hands-on STEM - through our STEM Introductory Nights at Riverfront Library (more on that later).
  2. Hudson Valley FLL Qualifier: Starting in 2019, we annually host the Hudson Valley FLL Qualifier in our school, Yonkers High. Mechadogs members volunteer as referees, scorekeepers, and other positions. For the 2023 HV FLL Qualifier, 6 FLL teams attended for the chance to go to championships.
  3. Yonkers YMCA Clothes Drive: In collaboration with the Yonkers YMCA, we are helping those in need within our community by collecting new and lightly used clothing donations to be distributed. This is an ongoing initiative lasting from March 15th to April 20th, 2023.
  4. Ukraine Relief Fundraiser: After the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia, we spearheaded a fundraiser to sell bracelets with the Ukrainian national colors. We ended up raising $1000 and donated all proceeds to the nonprofit organization Assist Ukraine.

Competitions

We traditionally participate in the Week 5 Tech Valley Regional and the Week 6 NYC Armory Regional, although this year we were unable to participate in Tech Valley. With NYC around the corner, we hope to continue our tradition of handing out cookies to other teams (so be on the lookout if you’re going)!

Awards

Since our rookie year in 2014, we’ve won the following awards:

2014 New York City Regional Rookie All-Star Award
2014 New York City Regional Dean’s List Finalist Award (Theodore Kim)
2016 New York City Regional Entrepreneurship Award
2016 New York City Regional Dean’s List Finalist Award (Anish De)
2016 Hudson Valley Rally Offseason Event Host
2017 Hudson Valley Regional Safety Person of the Day (Andrew Villareal)
2017 Tech Valley Regional Engineering Inspiration Award
2017 Hudson Valley Rally Offseason Event Host
2017 Hudson Valley Rally Offseason Event Finalist
2017 Science Barge Volunteer Crew Members
2018 Tech Valley Regional Finalists
2018 Tech Valley Regional Engineering Inspiration Award
2018 Tech Valley Regional Dean’s List Finalist Award (Enzo Kim)
2018 Hudson Valley Regional Volunteer of the Year (Theodore Kim)
2020 Hudson Valley Regional Dean’s List Finalist Award (Navaiya Williams)

Now, as we rebuild from the impact of COVID-19, we joined the Open Alliance to share our FIRST story and see the stories of other FIRST teams! From 3/30/23, we will be posting weekly (sometimes more frequent) updates to this thread. Next subject we talk about will likely be us at the NYC Armory Regional, so stay tuned!

~ Adrian | 5123

3/31/23

We wanted to showcase our outreach initiatives, so here’s some media from those outreach events!!!

2023 School Bake Sale

Picture 1: Co-Captain Ulizes and Co-Director of Control Nicky selling at our bake sale (which just ended today, netting us around $200 in profit)!

2023 Hudson Valley FLL (January 14th at Yonkers High School)

Picture 2: From Red Hook, NY, FLL Team 1588 Circuit Scallywags competed in our 2023 Hudson Valley FLL Qualifier!

Picture 3: Referees group photo (including Joyal and Bleart volunteering as referees from our team!!)

Picture 4: FLL robots geting ready for a match!

Picture 5: Mirnmoyi, Bleart, and Muhammad running the concessions stand!

Picture 6: Team photo!

Yonkers Riverfest

An annual festival in Yonkers that draws around 15000 people, we attend every year to connect with local businesses and people interested in finding hands-on STEM opportunities (which tends to be a LOT of parents). Here’s some photos from 2023 Riverfest!

Picture 7: Co-Captain Ulize talking with some Mechadogs alumni

Picture 8: An overview of our booth layout at Riverfest (yes, we improvised books as things to hold down our flyers)

And that’s all! Our next post will be moving away from outreach and into what to expect from the Mechadogs at NYC Armory Regional! Stay tuned!

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