Newsletter: Triple Helix Robotics prepares to play “Infinite Recharge”

Happy New Year! Triple Helix is looking forward to a super exciting 2020 season!

We’ve locked in our event schedule
Triple Helix aims to compete at up to 4 FIRST Robotics Competition events this spring. Hope to see you there!

  • February 29-March 1: FIRST Chesapeake District Haymarket VA event, Battlefield HS
  • March 14-15: FIRST Chesapeake District Portsmouth VA event, Churchland HS
  • April 3-5: FIRST Chesapeake District Championship, EagleBank Arena, George Mason University, Fairfax VA
  • April 30-March 2: FIRST Championship, TCF Center, Detroit MI

A great way to help Triple Helix (without devoting endless amounts of your time) is to volunteer at one of these events.  We really appreciate when we see friendly faces in the volunteer roles at our competitions.
In addition, you’re welcome drop by any of our team meetings– we’d love to show you what our awesome students are working on!

The Peninsula STEM Gym is ready for Infinite Recharge
The Peninsula STEM Gym is stocked with the materials and tools needed to build mockup wooden field elements for the 2020 FIRST Robotics Competition game!

Attention woodworkers among us: we are seeking volunteers who’d like to use their building skills to help the local FRC teams by constructing these mockup game elements with us! Please contact us if you’re interested in joining the project.

Thank you to all our wonderful sponsors!
The team greatly appreciates your support.

Nate Laverdure
Head coach, Triple Helix Robotics
President, Intentional Innovation Foundation

Newsletter: Congratulations Waffle Bunnies and RRF !

Triple Helix congratulates our friends,

The Magically Energized Lightning Waffle Bunnies
The Ruling Robot Falcons

who both championed their divisions at the Virginia/DC FIRST Lego League championship this weekend at James Madison University.  Both teams have now qualified to represent our region in the World Tournament held at the FIRST Championship this spring in Detroit.

Great work teams!

Nate Laverdure
Head coach, Triple Helix Robotics

In-kind donation most wanted list

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 14 April 2021)


  • Catering
  • Screenprinting, embroidery, sewing
  • Vinyl graphics, heat pressing
  • Audiovisual, DJ
  • Woodworking
  • Waterjet cutting, laser cutting
  • CNC machining and engraving
  • Web development, web hosting
  • Reselling surplus equipment
  • Accounting, tax preparation, legal & insurance advice
  • Grantwriting

Workshop equipment

  • Multimeters
  • Milwaukee M12/M18, Dewalt 20V MAX, and Bosch 12V Max tools
  • Precision machine tools
  • Power tools
  • Hand tools
  • Lathe and mill (R8 collet system) tooling
  • 6061-T6 aluminum and certain other metals
  • Polycarbonate, acetal copolymer, and certain other plastics
  • Laser cutter ventilation & filter system

Competitive robotics equipment

  • MK Battery ES17-12 rechargeable sealed lead-acid battery
  • 205/75D15 trailer tires

Peninsula STEM Gym equiment

  • Portable jobsite table saw
  • Lumber (3/4″ and 1/2″ plywood sheets, 2x4s)
  • Industrial scale (500 lb capacity, 30″ or 36″ square platform) similar to Arlyn 320D-36
  • Gaffer tape


  • Prepaid fuel cards
  • Gift cards to our common vendors (Lowe’s, Home Depot, Amazon, etc.)

Newsletter: Triple Helix Robotics – July 2019 update

In the news: the Peninsula STEM Gym
During the school year, hundreds of students practice their passions in after-school clubs such as art, sports and STEM programs. But where do some of these teams like robotics, meet to practice for the upcoming season? The Peninsula STEM Gym, of course.”  Our community robotics practice facility in Newport News was the subject of a Williamsburg Yorktown Daily article published yesterday.

Founded and operated by Triple Helix’s operating sponsor Intentional Innovation Foundation (IIF), the Peninsula STEM Gym is a place for student robotics teams to develop competition robots and have real-world engineering experiences that will inspire a lifelong interest in science and math.  Our gym features a 75%-sized mockup FRC field as well as an official FIRST Tech Challenge playing field sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding.  These resources are available for our neighbors to share.

The Peninsula STEM Gym was initially established with the generous assistance of a Community Knights GIFT Grant.  Ongoing operation of the STEM Gym is supported by IIF and Triple Helix sponsors.  More information about our STEM Gym can be found here.

Now live: our 2019 Chairman’s Award video
Triple Helix students and mentors developed this video during the spring 2019 season to meet the submission requirements for the FIRST Chairman’s Award and to discuss the personal impact that team participation has had in their lives.

Only 10 team registration slots remaining for the 2019 Rumble in the Roads
The 6th annual Rumble in the Roads, Hampton Roads’ unofficial offseason FRC tournament, is scheduled for Saturday, November 3, 2019 at Heritage High School in Newport News.  Team registrations for the event has proceeded quickly and the competition is now just 10 teams away from being full.  Triple Helix is proud to help organize this event along with partners Blackwater Robotics team 1610 and CAT5 Cybercanes team 5957.  The volunteer registration for the event will open later this summer; stay tuned for more information!

Summer work is well underway
Triple Helix meets year-round, and this summer we have been diving deep into team development projects, training activities, outreach event planning, collaborations with other teams, and more.  Now is a great time to drop by and check out what we’re all about!

Nate Laverdure
Head coach, Triple Helix Robotics
President, Intentional Innovation Foundation

Newsletter: Triple Helix Robotics update – May 2019

Season recap
Triple Helix concludes our 2019 competition season with an overall record of 31 wins, 17 losses, and 1 tie in official matches across three competitions, winning one event and making our exit as semifinalists in another.  We were proud to receive two judged technical awards, including one at the regional championship level, for the design creativity we exhibited in our approach to the Destination: Deep Space challenge.  In addition, with the Engineering Inspiration Award we were recognized for our hard work towards our organization’s core mission of developing an interest and respect for STEM in our community– a radically gratifying thing to receive this acknowledgement for something we hold so important.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is one game, played on a thousand levels.  Only a few of these levels have points, rules, and a strong definition of what it means to be “successful.”  While our team’s performance across our competition season was stellar and successful by a number of important metrics, we missed the bullseye on a couple of our goals, including making a strong play for the win at our regional championship event.  In the engineering world, “failures” don’t have a negative connotation– stuff fails, and learning from its failure is key to meaningful improvement.  Our friend Karthik Kanagasabapathy says that “only a few teams are going to win the event, so failure is… intrinsically part of the FIRST experience… Success is inspiring but there are more learning opportunities associated with failure if you handle failure correctly.”  Continuous improvement is central to our team culture; the learning opportunities that Triple Helix experienced this season have already become valuable assets in our toolbox.  Our competitors would love the chance to peek inside that toolbox!

At the District Championship, I was awarded the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award which “celebrates effective communication in the art and science of engineering and design.”  While this is an individual award in name, it truly reflects the strength of the team as a whole (which is why the award comes with a blue banner for the team!).  I owe my thanks to everyone in the Triple Helix community, and especially the current and former students, for your contribution to our program.  The team works because of your passion and your belief in our mission– and because you’ve learned the big “secret:” that’s it’s fun to work super hard and accomplish something meaningful as a part of a team.  I have greatly enjoyed working and playing with you over the past 5 seasons.  I’m so proud of what we’ve built together– and of you.  Let’s keep it going…

We are indebted to the many wonderful sponsors who make our program not just possible, but also effective and important.

Now is the perfect time to join
(also, come to our open house the evening of Thursday, May 30)
If you’re on the fence about getting involved in the team, know that May-June is the best time to visit, poke around, lend a hand, and become a team member.  For our year-round team, the summer is all about tech development projects, training, outreach, and fundraising.  Since every team member is working on learning something new, you’ll fit in really well.

Our doors are always open, but on one special night this month, we’ll be hosting an open house for all interested new folks.  Please join us on Thursday, May 30th starting at 6:30pm to speak with current our students and mentors, tour our workspace at Menchville HS, and learn more about how you can help us build an even stronger team.

Our year-round team simulates a small engineering firm, and we have a core product: our mentors and students work side-by-side to field a highly competitive FRC robot. Building a robot requires wiring a complex electrical system, writing hundreds of lines of code, machining and assembling high-precision parts, and much more. As a company we also have many extensive public speaking and outreach opportunities, as well as the need to write essays, film and edit videos, and develop marketing materials. If you’re not a technical person, there’s still a place on the team for you! Remember that you need no experience, special skills or knowledge to be a valuable member of our team.

We’re recruiting adults too!

Save the date – Rumble in the Roads
The 6th annual Rumble in the Roads, Hampton Roads’ unofficial offseason FRC tournament, is scheduled for Saturday, November 3, 2019 at Heritage High School in Newport News.  Triple Helix is proud to help organize this event along with partners Blackwater Robotics team 1610 and CAT5 Cybercanes team 5957.  The volunteer registration for the event will open later this summer; stay tuned for more information!

Congratulations to Jason Ingram
Triple Helix congratulates VCU College of Health Professions student Jason Ingram on completion of his degree requirements and imminent graduation as a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD).  Triple Helix was a key part of Jason’s doctoral experiential capstone project: exploring the crossroads of engineering and occupational therapy.  Jason joined Triple Helix this season and worked alongside our students and mentors to develop and modify assistive technology for clients throughout Hampton Roads.  As a result of this experience, our students gained a deep appreciation for how they can use their budding engineering skills to make a meaningful, personal impact in their community, and we look forward to continuing our relationships with the many therapy professionals and organizations Jason connected us with this spring.  We also look forward to working with our next VCU OT student who is planning to continue and extend the long-term project when she joins us in January 2020!

Nate Laverdure
Head coach, Triple Helix Robotics
President, Intentional Innovation Foundation

Accessible controls for ride-on toy car

This spring, Triple Helix partnered with an occupational therapy doctoral student from Virginia Commonwealth University to develop assistive devices for people in the Hampton Roads region. Through communication with the Children’s Assistive Technology Service (CATS) a need was identified for a modified ride-on toy car, based on the University of Delaware’s GoBabyGo project. This project aims to provide access to low-cost mobility devices for young children without other means of exploring their environment. In this case, the recipient was a young girl who does not have the ability to move her lower extremities as a result of a birth defect.

To provide access to the car’s controls, a 5-inch switch was mounted on the steering column and wired via a relay switch to the car’s motor to replace the foot pedal function. Additionally, PVC handles were added on each side of the center switch for more ergonomic steering control. To also allow for simultaneous propulsion and steering, the handles fit over a laser-cut Lexan frame which, when flexed, activate an additional limit switch on each side of the steering column. This design concept can be applied to other ride-on cars, depending on a particular child’s needs and functional abilities.

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