Triple Helix students are proud to publish this Woodie Flowers Award nominating essay for our mentor Wendy Bretton.
Wendy Bretton first joined Triple Helix four years ago as a software mentor, but her impact on the team has been much larger than that. As a professional software engineer for over 20 years, Mrs. Bretton has an incredible amount of knowledge that she is willing to share with both students and mentors alike. She has created an atmosphere on the software subteam where everyone’s input is valuable. Because of this, it is rare to see Mrs. Bretton without at least one or two students by her side. She is constantly encouraging members to take on different tasks and learn more.
Mrs. Bretton has always been devoted to promoting STEM, even long before she joined Triple Helix. As a mother of two, when her kids were in elementary school she heard about FLL, and after finding out that no one at their school wanted to start a team, she started one herself. This FLL team has been to state championships countless times and is still going strong. Mrs. Bretton even has her own website that shares a variety of STEM topics, activities, and ideas. She is often contacted by new parents asking how to get their children involved in STEM. Her devotion and dedication to promoting STEM has had a tremendous effect on those around her.
Interestingly enough, when Mrs. Bretton first joined Triple Helix, she was not expecting to become the software lead, however, she quickly became an asset to the team by taking over the lead position when the previous software mentor left. Not only did she keep the software subteam afloat, but she implemented a structured, well-documented framework that allows students to begin contributing from day one by following procedures shared in Google Keep notes. Mrs. Bretton focuses on ensuring that every student has an equal opportunity to participate. Carson, one of the youngest members on the team says, “Mrs. Bretton makes sure everyone has a task regardless of their experience level.”
Mrs. Bretton strives to ensure that all students are able to express their creativity. She encourages teamwork throughout the subteam, and because of this, students are often found working together on the code. Long after a meeting ends, Mrs. Bretton will be looking over all of the altered code and integrating it into a stable baseline so that testing can start at the next meeting. This system guarantees that all the students can actively participate in writing the code. She even managed to implement this practice with last year’s robot – the most complicated robot the team has made.
In conclusion, Mrs. Bretton is more than just the team’s software mentor. She not only works alongside the students, but also provides life advice, support, and even rides to meetings. Liz, one of the team’s alumni, states, “Her positive energy truly bleeds out into everything that she does.” To sum it up, Mrs. Bretton’s passion for promoting STEM has created many lifelong learners, gracious professionals, and thoughtful citizens who continue to be active in the STEM community.
The game piece handling mechanisms within Triple Helix’s 2020 competition robot employ rollers of various shapes and sizes. This brief slide deck outlines the team’s 4 standard configurations for the ends of these rollers. We classify idle rollers, driven rollers, and two types of driving rollers.
A generic camera case for a VGA USB Camera Module (640×480). Includes flexible mounting points. Camera can be oriented as desired and includes a connection port on the back with two small slots for a strain-relieving zip-tie. Secure camera board with M1.6 screws.
Arcade pushbuttons normally use standard miniature snap action microswitches to provide momentary input to an electrical device. When latching push-on/push-off switch functionality is desired, use this adapter to install a low-cost latching pushbutton switch in place of the microswitch.
Triple Helix logs each of our community outreach engagements, as well as the ways we’ve shared our team resources.
Head coach Nate Laverdure presents “Dropping the BOM: How Triple Helix built our most ambitious robot ever — under the most adverse cost accounting conditions we’ve experienced.”
Intentional Innovation Foundation, the operating sponsor of Triple Helix Robotics, publishes this detailed look at the organization’s approved budget for the July 2019 – June 2020 fiscal year.
Triple Helix and our operating nonprofit sponsor Intentional Innovation Foundation seek the donation of the following products and services to support our award-winning youth STEM programs. (Last updated 11 February 2020)
- Screenprinting, embroidery, sewing
- Vinyl graphics, heat pressing
- Audiovisual, DJ
- Waterjet cutting, laser cutting
- CNC machining and engraving
- Web development, web hosting
- Reselling surplus equipment
- Accounting, tax preparation, legal & insurance advice
- 8-10 foot stepladder
- CNC engraver/router
- Precision machine tools
- Power tools
- Hand tools
- 6061 aluminum and certain other metals
- Polycarbonate, acetal copolymer, and certain other plastics
- Laser cutter ventilation & filter system
Peninsula STEM Gym equiment
- One or more large industrial ceiling fans
- Whiteboards (QTY 3 size 4′ x 3′ ft, QTY 1 size 6′ x 3′)
- Lumber (3/4″ and 1/2″ plywood sheets, 2x4s)
- Polyurethane to finish tabletops
- Industrial scale (500 lb capacity, 30″ or 36″ square platform) similar to Arlyn 320D-36
- Safety glasses rack/cubbies
- Commercial vacuum
- Dustpan & brush
- Gaffer tape
Large-scale storage solutions
An immediate goal for Triple Helix is take over a small closet which adjoins our workshop. The closet currently stores JROTC uniforms and other supplies, so to acquire the closet we’d need to come up with another location to store these items. One possibility is an in-kind donation of metal wardrobe storage cabinets or lockers.
Menchville High School currently stores equipment in 7 sheds and shipping containers located around the campus and in various states of repair. Summed together these storage spaces provide about 2000 sq ft of storage for school groups including band, drama, and athletics. Triple Helix seeks to consolidate this storage into a large engineered steel storage building, which would provide enough clean dry storage for all school activities.
- Prepaid fuel cards
- Gift cards to our common vendors (Lowe’s, Home Depot, Amazon, etc.)
Latest complete CAD model of Genome Lambda, the Triple Helix robot for the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition game, Destination: Deep Space.
Triple Helix Robotics mentor Nate Laverdure details the history and future of the FIRST Robotics Competition in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.