The Nerd Herd, FIRST Robotics

Team Captain
September 2014 - June 2015

Manufacturing Engineer, Electrical Engineer
September 2013 - August 2014

The FIRST Robotics competition involves a 6 week design period followed by a series of regional competitions. Each year, a new game is announced in early January, marking the start of the season. Having first learned to design and assemble simple electrical and pneumatic systems, I went on to gain experience on CNC machines and basic shop tools.

As the team captain my senior year, I led the design, manufacturing, and assembly of the competition robot. The short design period made it critical to mentor the other team members throughout the rest of the school year.

For my year as captain, the challenge involved retrieving and then stacking plastic totes and bins. Since we knew that being able to easily maneuver the field was important, we decided to use a mecanum-style drive train that allowed lateral motion when the wheels spun in opposite directions. Additionally, we knew that we needed to keep the center of gravity within the wheel base to prevent tipping when carrying the stacks, leading us towards a design that pulled the totes into the frame. However, the drive base size restrictions and large wheels made packaging a challenge. Ultimately, I decided to design a custom gearbox that could attach to the rear end of the frame, solving this issue.

The other part of the challenge was creating a mechanism capable of lifting and securing the large stacks. To do this, we designed an elevator system powered by a motor and chain, aided by a constant force spring to reduce the load on the motor. On the elevator carriage, we placed two arms that could clamp onto the totes and reel them in with intake wheels.