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Q & A With SKILLS USA Mobile Robotics Champions Morgan Chen and Samarat Darren Srivathanakul of Richardson HS, Texas

The SKILLS USA National Championships were held June 24th and 25th in Louisville KY, with 6,000 of the country’s top career and technical education students competing in over 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields. To earn a spot at the prestigious national event, all participating students had previously won a state contest.

Within the competition, Intelitek set the industry based competencies and standards for three of the contests, including Robotics and Automation Technology, Automated Manufacturing Technology, and Mobile Robotics Technology; all of which have seen an increase in participation levels by 10% from the previous year.

The Mobile Robotics competition contains teams of two students who build a robot based on design, assembly and build instructions they create and store in an engineering notebook. The students are judged on the quality of the engineering notebook, an oral presentation in front of industry based judges and robotic performance on a competitive field

Intelitek’s Product Manager, Trevor Popesat down with Mobile Robotics gold medal winners and Intelitek users Morgan Chen and Samarat Darren Srivathanakul, two seniors at Texas’ Richardson High School.

Morgan and Darren on the competition field

Morgan and Darren on the competition field


Intelitek – We would like to understand your journey. What were your goals and what obstacles did you overcome throughout the season?

Morgan – Like every competing team, our goal was to create a robot that would score the most points and ultimately earn the gold medal. To achieve that goal, my teammate and I focused especially on an efficient robot design and a strong autonomous program. We understood that a simple but strong robot design was all that we really needed, yet a strong autonomous program would be necessary to gain an edge in the competition, especially at the national level. In the end, patience and perseverance were key to overcoming these and all obstacles that we faced.

Darren – Our goals this season was to come back from last year’s loss and improve our designs and skills to get a better placement in the competition, or even win. Many design mechanics were made as prototypes to our drive, lift, and intake systems, but many failed to perform as smoothly and efficiently as we wanted them to.

 

Intelitek – What made you a successful team? 

Morgan – I believe that one important factor to our team’s success was our experience gained from last year’s competition. For example, my teammate and I realized that while we were given a day to build our robot, it was vital that we set apart some time to test out and practice the operation of the robot as well. Furthermore, we realized the importance of the autonomous program in the competition and the importance of practice with the manual driver operation. Another key factor that I believe contributed to our success was our dedication and motivation. My partner and I spent countless work hours throughout the school year, and oftentimes stayed after school and worked at home when necessary to perfect our robot and work on the notebook and oral presentation as best as we could.

Team 126's robot carrying two cubes to the scoring zone

Team 126’s robot carrying two cubes to the scoring zone

Darren – We worked throughout the year, thinking of and producing new designs to improve the performance of our robot.

 

Intelitek – How did you become interested in robotics? 

Morgan – I played a lot with Legos as a child, sparking my interest in building and creating; principles closely aligned with robotics and engineering. In my last year of elementary school (6th grade), I joined a robotics magnet program that my school provided where we worked with the Lego Mindstorms NXT kits. I continued with the robotics magnet program through my middle school years, where I worked closely with AutoCAD software and machining skills. I followed the magnet program to high school, as my past experiences with the robotics program only further kindled my interest in robotics and engineering.

Darren – Since I was a little kid I always loved toy cars and Lego products. I built a love for mechanics and engineering through the robotics program in my elementary school, the Math Science and Technology Magnet, where we used LEGO Mindstorms to experiment with building and programming robots for competition. This heightened my interest in robotics greatly and I continued to enjoy exploring robotics with VEX in the robotics magnet program in Richardson West Junior High and Richardson High School.

 

Intelitek – What are your future plans and did they result from your experience in robotics?

Morgan – Ultimately, I aspire to pursue a successful career in engineering, ideally one geared towards but in no way utterly bound to the branches of mechanical, electrical, and/or computer science engineering. I’m interested in robotic engineering and its application to defense technology, and am an admirer of the work of companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, etc. My future aspirations are heavily influenced by my experiences in robotics as the underlying principles inherent in robotics, such as design and construction, have always interested me.

Darren – After finishing my high school robotics program, I plan to study some form of engineering whether it be electrical or somewhere else in the field. I would really like to work in engineering in the future.

 

Intelitek – Do you use Intelitek’s EasyC software and / or our Robotics Engineering Curriculum or other curriculum?  Was it helpful?

Morgan – My teammate and I opted to use Intelitek’s EasyC programming software for our competition autonomous program. EasyC software was helpful in the creation of our robot’s autonomous program as it was straightforward and clear-cut.

Darren – We used easyC v4 for the past couple years. It is easy to use, great for beginners and easy to program simple and complex tasks for sensors and motors.


Intelitek-Powered Robots Go Head-to-Head in Elementary School Robot Wars

A fleet of robots built and programmed by elementary students recently went head to head in the exciting Vex Robotics Tournament held at Richton Elementary School in Richton MS. Robots were tasked with moving objects around an obstacle course, earning points for each successful move.

Richton’s team was completely made up of 6th graders, making them by far the youngest team entering the competition. Teachers were also quick to point out to KFVS12 News that there were just as many girls competing as boys, showing that these exciting initiatives are encouraging more and more enterprising students to explore a career in manufacturing, robotics and computer science.

To get the most out of the competition, robots are delivered to the teams completely unassembled, and it’s up to the students to build them from scratch. It’s a challenging and fun activity with a competitive element that gets kids highly interested in STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Other useful real-world skills are fostered, such as project management, time management, working in groups and problem solving. The competition is a culmination of a lot of hard work and determination from these young engineers.

We’re proud that this initiative is running on Intelitek’s software, with students programming their robots using easyC, a programming language designed to be powerful enough to perform advanced operations but simple enough for young students to pick up.


Mobile Robotics at SKILLS New Hampshire

Intelitek proudly celebrated our 6th consecutive year hosting the
state SKILLS New Hampshire Mobile Robotics Technology SKILLS 3-13-2015contest held on March 13th at the Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter, NH. Intelitek supports three of 46 total SKILLS NH State contests including Mobile Robotics Technology, Automated Manufacturing Technology and Robotics and Automation Technology. The 2015 event challenged teams of two to design a robot that could move, lift and stack colored cubes into designated color-coded scoring zones within a two-minute time limit. The round is split into a sixty second autonomous and 60 second operator control period. Judging criteria are based on the quality of an Engineering Notebook competitors share with industry based judges, evaluation of a student prepared presentation, and robot scoring performance.  The winning team is invited to Louisville, Kentucky to compete against approximately 40 state winners for the title of National Champion making this Friday the 13th a very lucky day for the winning team.

Intelitek offers Robotics Engineering Curriculum (REC) which contains everything needed to begin a successful classroom program with hands-on activities and compelling online curriculum while teaching students the STEM theory to design a robot capable of competing at a National level. REC embeds easyC programming software within the curriculum allowing users to produce effective C code programs in a short period of time.

IMG_1291 Any High School or Post Secondary schools interested in registering a team can find more information at the SKILLS USA website. http://www.skillsusa-register.org/

 

 

 

 

 


Vice President Joe Biden Discusses Manufacturing Education at Manchester Community College

We were delighted to be in attendance at our educational partner Manchester Community College’s discussion of secondary education with Vice President Joe Biden on 25 February 2015. The Vice President took questions from students, educators and businesses alike, and discussed his vision of how collaborations between the public and private sector are vital to training a world-class workforce in the 21st century.

Vice President Biden led by stating how the U.S. is poised for a resurgence in manufacturing jobs, with companies who have previously outsourced manufacturing to China overwhelmingly looking to ‘in-source’ jobs back to the U.S. in the near future. He noted how 31,500 new skilled welders would be needed by 2020.

Surrounded by students benefitting from the modern equipment and educational techniques used in Manchester Community College, the Vice President re-iterated his feelings that community colleges are “the best kept secret in America,” allowing students from all backgrounds to build the skills that put them in excellent positions.

Much of the time was opened up to students who shared how free community college education and access to modern training facilities had given them a future working in manufacturing, an opportunity that would not have been available without this support.

With our representatives in attendance, Manchester Community College stated that Intelitek has been very supportive of their programs, and that they maintain a good relationship with the company It was also noted that Intelitek is on the Manchester Community College’s advisory board, “helping to frame the right kind of resources and education” in regard to building the most skilled workforce in the area. Vice President Biden added that he was impressed and encouraged.

 


Making Sense of the First Robotics Competition’s roboRIO

It’s that time of year again – the First Robotics Competition has begun. This exciting competition pits teams of 25 or more high school students against each other in a bid to build robotics to the highest standard. The competition is as close to real world engineering as high school students can get, and students qualify for over $25 million in college scholarships. It features over 73,000 students in nearly 3,000 teams from all across the globe.

The First Robotics Competition challenges students to prove they have what it takes across a range of disciplines, and accurately mirrors real world engineering practices and challenges. The competition element makes robotics and engineering fun and exciting, and motivates students to work together to overcome some of the tough real world trials that engineers face, all with the support of professional engineers.

This year, the mandatory controller is the National Instruments roboRIO. It’s an all-new controller that’s lighter, more powerful and more versatile than anything the First Robotics Competition has seen before. Supporting the LabView operating system, it uses the Xilinx Zynq chipset and is designed to be extra-rugged so that it can withstand multiple First Robotics Competition seasons.

Programming the roboRIO is an excellent way to begin using LabView, the industry standard system design and development environment used extensively for instrument control, data acquisition and industrial automation in engineering. The gamut of projects used by engineers on a daily basis with LabView run from rapid prototyping up to large-scale projects such as Space-X mission control and the CERN Large Hadron Collider.

For those new to the roboRIO or LabView, we’ve put together a handy tutorial to the controller which we’re giving away free to all those interested in the First Robotics Competition. This short course provides an introduction to the roboRIO and programming it with LabView.

You can access this FREE introductory course right here: http://first.intelitek.com/


New College and Career Academy Opens in Henry County Featuring Intelitek’s Advanced Manufacturing Equipment

New College and Career Academy Opens in Henry County Featuring Intelitek’s Advanced Manufacturing Equipment

Dignitaries and media were out in force this week for the opening of Henry County’s brand new College and Career Academy, a new 56,000 square ft. state-of-the-art facility offering 10 new programs. Students are given the opportunity to take everything they learn in the classroom and put it into practice in a technology-rich environment, allowing them to understand what they are learning and why they are learning it.

The Academy offers everything from high tech manufacturing – which features Intelitek’s industry-leading advanced manufacturing learning equipment – to healthcare, a full-size industrial kitchen, graphic design, and automotive shop. With all these cool gadgets, students get motivated to learn as they know what they are learning is relevant to the modern world and their future. Freshmen starting in the program are taking the opportunity to get a high school diploma and a 2-year college degree at the same time.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who was there in person for the grand opening, said that this type of facility “offered students the kind of job they want”, and with results such as 98% graduation rates and 100% placement rates, they were planning to roll the programs out to as many students as possible. He also noted that facilities like the College and Career Academy is a powerful way to get industry to come into the area, with a motivated and highly skilled workforce ready to fill positions.

Featured on local Atlanta news, the new College and Career Academy is a boon for students, parents, teachers and local industry. Students get the marketable skills they need to take them into great jobs in the area, and we’re proud that Intelitek has been able to help facilitate the building of this great academy.

See the video here


Purdue College of Technology Enhances Curriculum with Competition

Extra-curricular robotics challenge enhances cross-disciplinary curriculum at Purdue University

Purdue Kokomo

What happens when you take a little inspiration mixed with some competitive challenge, add some vendor support, then toss in some motivated students? It’s a recipe for success in engineering programs as proven by Purdue College of Technology Kokomo. What started off as an extra-curricular robotics challenge has evolved into a full-blown multidisciplinary engineering course that will debut this fall.

A Challenge for Faculty and Students

The seeds of this initiative were planted when members of Purdue Kokomo attended an ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) conference. A demo at the conference gave the faculty the idea to design a student activity based on a robotics football contest.

They discussed the idea with Paul Copioli, President of VEX. Realizing the potential of the idea, VEX contributed a variety of Vex parts to help initiate the project. Thus the challenge was issued between Purdue College of Technology Kokomo and University of Notre Dame to design and build a team of football-playing robots and compete in an NFL style “combine”.

The combine would test specific robotic “skills” by means of individual events, testing the robot speed, agility, strength and robustness. The skill events would be followed by the teams competing in a scrimmage designed after American football.

The challenge appealed to students on various degree pathways, including Computer and Information Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, Engineering Technology, and Mechanical Engineering Technology.

The challenge would be achieved using the VEX robotics platform and EasyC programming software as tools. Students held weekly meetings to discuss designs. They were required to develop design specifications and justifications for the design they chose. After a couple of months of training and design meetings, the students completed a working prototype.

Purdue Kokomo Football Prototype

Game Day

The big event was held at the University of Notre Dame’s Joyce Center in April 2014. Five teams participated: Purdue-Kokomo, The U.S. Naval Academy, University of Notre Dame, Purdue-Calumet, and Purdue-South Bend.

Purdue Kokomo Football Combine

Purdue-Kokomo won both the speed and the agility tests, while Navy won the strength test. The scrimmage featured Purdue-Kokomo and Navy teamed up against Notre Dame, with the Kokomo/Navy team defeating Notre Dame 14-0.

Purdue Kokomo Football Speedtest

Read the game story at Purdue website!

A Course is Born

The real winners resulting from the event were the current and future students at Purdue. Since this extracurricular activity was so successful, it has given birth to an entirely new class: “Design of Robotic Systems”. This class will help prepare students for the activity by covering the design principles involved. Topics will include designing mobile robots to accomplish specified performance objectives, developing robotic subsystems, and robotic programming. Throughout the course, students learn the system development process, including planning, documentation, prototyping, testing, and analysis.

The course will be taught by faculty from all four academic areas and will be offered in fall of 2014. This is an excellent example of the value of extra-curricular activities in motivating students and enabling them to take ownership of their educational experience.



Mike Rowe and Mobile Robotics at SkillsUSA!

2014-07_SkillsUSA_Rowe_2360

SkillsUSA is calling this years National Leadership and Skills Conference the best ever – and we would have to agree!

This year, Intelitek’s Automated Manufacturing Technology contest was made a closer replication of the industrial environment. Teams created virtual parts with our CNCMotion software before moving on to the hands-on production with our ProMill 8000. This modification to the contest received great feedback from the competitors and advisors.

The Robotics and Automation contest also ran smoothly again this year with the Puerto Rico team earning the High School Gold Medal and North Arkansas College earning the Post Secondary Championship.

At the Mobile Robotics field, we received a terrific surprise when Mike Rowe, a perennial supporter of CTE and SkillsUSA (also of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” fame), visited the Mobile Robotics competition!

Trevor Pope, Intelitek’s Product Manager and Mobile Robotics competition committee member spent over an hour with Mr. Rowe in the Mobile Robotics contest area showing him what we do. Along with help from RECF, we built him a robot and created a mini competition against the Massachusetts team, which uses EasyC. Mike named the robot “Micro / Macro” and autographed the shielding.
2014-07_SkillsUSA_Rowe_2218

Best yet, Intelitek will be featured on Mike Rowe’s new CNN show “Somebody’s Gotta Do It“! The program is expected to air on CNN in October. This will provide extensive publicity to Intelitek’s REC program and EasyC on a national news network!

Working with Mr. Rowe at SkillUSA was great fun, and were glad to be a part of the work he does in creating awareness of the awesome opportunities that exist for students in career and technology education!
See our Facebook page for more pictures!


VEX Skyrise – Lessons from Team 1103!

VEX Round Up Champion Team 1103 – Compound Chain Lifting Mechanism

With the release of the 2014 VEX SkyRise challenge , mechanisms and strategies for lifting are a hot topic among potential competitors! We have fielded many inquiries about the lifting mechanism from Team 1103’s robot which won the 2010 championship. 1103 is one of the most successful VEX robot designs and lifting mechanisms ever created! No doubt there are some excellent lessons and principles in the design of the 1103 robot that could apply to Skyrise.

Vex Team 1103 robot

Team 1103 is a rarity – a one man team. Joshua Wade – whom we interviewed in 2011 – is the sole team member. Team 1103 has won several regional contests and awards including the 2010 VEX robotics Programming Skills Challenge World Champion and the 2011 Vex Robotics National Champion for the 2010-2011 Round Up season.

Design

The 1103 robot uses a compound chained linear slide lifting mechanism reaching 40″ high. The base of the claw lifts to 23″ off the ground. Principles of this lifting design as well as other lifting concepts are available in Intelitek’s Robotics Engineering Curriculum (REC 2 Unit 11 – Lift Systems).

The purely vertical multiple-stage lift uses 17.5″ slides cut to 15″ and operates using a total of six 269 motors coupled in three sets of two motors. Each motor is linked to a single output shaft with a 1:1 ratio.
REC 1 Unit 3 – Gears and Gear Trains explains the physics principles involved in designing gears and gear trains. The output gearing is reduced with 2 sets of 1-1.5 reductions using 12, 18 and 24-toothed cogs. These motors and gears provide enough power to lift the entire robot off the ground.

VEX Team 1103 robot lift mechanism

1103 motors, cogs and chain drive

Programming

The exceptional programming was performed using Intelitek’s EasyC V4 for Cortex programming software. The intuitive environment of EasyC allows users to quickly learn skills needed to become an advanced programmer.

The 1103 robot program utilizes PID control giving the ability to hold the lifting mechanism using feedback from a quadrature encoder and limit switch which control the position of the lift. Wade wrote the program using the easyC sample file “PID Interrupt Service Routine” modified for the quadrature encoder. PID control loops hold the arm position at six different increments giving the operator quick and easy points to maintain elevation of the arm and hold the ring pick up position. This delivers the ability to score (and de-score) on both the floor weeble goals and wall goal posts, offering excellent application for the Skyrise challenge!

Team 1103 is a great example of the unlimited potential students have when engaged and motivated by their educational environment. The success shows that competitive robotics is the means of providing that environment for many more students.

You can check out the 1103 robot in person at our upcoming events, including the SkillsUSA National Championship June 25th and 26th in Kansas City, Mo!

Get your free trial! A full-featured 7-day trial of easyC V4 for Cortex is available here!

Try easyC!


Skilled Trades: Hardest Postions for Employers to Fill

Manpower Skilled Trades Report

STEM Education Essential for Solving the Talent Shortage

According to research by ManpowerGroup, for the fourth year in a row, skilled trades rank as the most difficult jobs to fill in the United States. The root cause is the lack of skilled engineers, machinists, electricians, mechanics, and technicians available in today’s workforce.

These professions requiring skilled talent are emerging at a faster rate than they can be filled. For those pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), this presents a world of opportunity. Constantly changing technologies demand new skills, resulting in the creation of new jobs. Meanwhile, a majority of skilled workers in the U.S. are either approaching or exceeding age 50, indicating an even greater demand for these jobs in the future.

What is the solution? Effective STEM education!

Manpower report: Get training

As shown in the Manpower report, STEM education provides the best opportunity to close the skills gap. Whether through 4-year degrees, two-year career programs or shorter certificate programs, STEM education equips students with the skills that lead to high-demand, high-salaried, meaningful jobs. Students who pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are creating better potential and more security for their futures, as well as for the futures of their respective economies.


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