Kappa Alumni of Sigma Phi Delta, Inc.

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With the decision to partner with FIRST at the 41st General Convention, Kappa Chapter has been trying to get involved. FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology". The purpose of the program cannot be better explained than its mission, which is "to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership." The program involves competitions requiring the teams to assemble a robot, which will have to perform certain functions or tasks. The Kappa Alumni Board of Directors appointed Shawn Bozarth as the FIRST Robotics Partnership Chairman for Kappa Alumni. Shawn is currently a mentor for the Robo Riot Team 3418 at Sheboygan Falls High School, Wisconsin where he provides mentoring in the categories of engineering design, analysis and some marketing. Shawn had nothing but good words to say about the FIRST program and Sigma Phi Delta's involvement in it: "I'm glad to see SPD getting involved with this. It's a great program, and I really enjoy the time I get to spend with the kids. They are very talented, and it is amazing to see what they can do with a little guidance."

 Shawn explained the particulars of FIRST as it directly relates to his experience. On a predetermined day, NASA officially announces the beginning of the competition by globally broadcasting the specifics of the project including the functions the robot will have to complete, any special rules, methods of scoring, as well as basic ideas for how to get started. Prior to this broadcast, no one has any idea as to what the competition will involve, although with websites like Chief Delphi, there is plenty of speculation. On kickoff day, each team that has paid their yearly dues will receive a FIRST robotics parts kit which contains enough to build a basic robot, and each team is supplied with Labview programming software. The team can choose to only use the parts supplied in the kit or they can raise funds to purchase additional parts to make their robot more unique and complex. To ensure that no team has too much of an advantage over another, a weight cap and price cap is set which is typically around 200 pounds and $5,000 respectively. On the day of the broadcast, the clock officially starts, and the teams have exactly six weeks to design, develop, build, and test their robot. At the end of the six weeks, each team must cease all work and bag their robots up - literally. They must place a large supplied bag over the robot and zip tie it, and they are not allowed to touch it again until the competition.

The competition phase takes approximately six weeks with regional competitions occurring all over the world. If a team wins a regional competition, they receive an invite to the world competition. The competitions are different every year. They are set up like a game with multiple scoring methods, but they also teach the kids how to solve real world problems using technology. The competition that Shawn and his team participated in last year, "Recycle Rush", involved designing a robot to pick up totes, trash cans, and pool noodles, transport them around the arena, and then stack them. Points were earned based on the robot's ability to pick up and move the objects to the stack as well as how high the stack was among other scoring details. In between competitions, Shawn is still active with the kids in the FIRST program. He helps teach them skills that will come in handy during the next competition including how to perform design analysis of structural parts, how to reduce weight, how to keep cost down, and numerous other high level collegiate engineering disciplines.

Shawn is currently working with Sigma Phi Delta International, representatives from FIRST, and the Kappa Actives to try to get a FIRST program started near Angola, IN to be officially mentored by Kappa Chapter. Collectively, they are working on generating interest from local schools. The school will have to agree to the formation of a team, there will need to be faculty member from the participating school to act as a mentor/adviser, and there will need to be a decent amount of kids who are interested in participating. The team will also need additional mentors from the community - potentially a Trine faculty member and/or a member of the community who holds a technical role in his or her current employment. So if anyone is living near the Angola area and is interested in being a FIRST mentor, please contact the Kappa Alumni Board of Directors. Another piece to the puzzle is to raise funds to help pay for expenses of the competition. Many local companies are going to be contacted to see if they will be willing to donate money and/or services to the team.


For more information, check out these links:

Shawn's Team: http://roboriotteam3418.org/
FIRST Robotics: http://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc

2013 Game - Ultimate Ascent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa5MGEZNrf0
2014 Game - Aerial Assist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxp4dkMQ1Vo
2015 Game - Recycle Rush: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAN1B7oKDXE