Newsletter: Triple Helix update – August 2018

It’s been an exciting month for Triple Helix Robotics!  Here’s some of the big things that have happened in July:

Indiana Robotics Invitational
Triple Helix traveled to Indianapolis to compete in the IRI, a prestigious and competitive post-season (unofficial) competition for the top teams in the FIRST Robotics Competition. This event is the Pro Bowl of FRC. Competing there among legendary teams was an eye-opening experience for Triple Helix students and mentors, and we’ve been thoroughly inspired to take our program to the next level.  Check out the recap video for the event by IndianaFIRST:

Inter-team outreach
The team met up with our competitor Blue Cheese, FRC team 1086, at their workshop in Ashland, VA. There, we learned all about their team’s processes: working out of a sponsor’s facility, designing robot parts for outside manufacture, helping to lead the National Advocacy Conference and other political activism, winning a FIRST Championship, and more! This visit was one in a series: this month we’ll host Blue Cheese at our workshop, and we’ll also travel to The Zebracorns at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, NC.

Recently graduated seniors, alumni, and former mentors came together to participate in the YMCA STEM fair at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton. YMCA summer camp counselor and recent Triple Helix graduate Rachel B. stated: “My campers and my co workers absolutely LOVED the robot and the team. You guys did an amazing job representing the team at the YMCA STEM fair and I am super happy and proud! Thank you so much again!”

Thank you to Booz Allen Hamilton
Booz Allen has renewed their sponsorship of the team for the upcoming 2019 FRC season. Thank you for your generous and continued support!

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

3D printing for therapists

Triple Helix presented at the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association’s 2018 School System Symposium.  The focus of our presentation was how therapy professionals can use skills and tools of “makers,” including 3d printing, to make customized products for interventions with their patients.  Our partner in this presentation was Maryland FTC team Green Machine Reloaded; this team presented on their work with the Go Baby Go program.

Abstract: “Makers” use the engineering problem solving process, and their hands, to bring their ideas to life. The competitive high school FIRST robotics teams Triple Helix Robotics and Green Machine Reloaded share the makerspace techniques to rapidly design and create assistive devices. The two teams will demonstrate the tools and technical skills used to 3D print small plastic objects as well as how to modify ride-on toy cars to create low-cost adapted mobility equipment.


Our thoughts on the NNPS Superintendent Search Survey

Triple Helix head coach Nate Laverdure offered his perspective on a public survey produced by the school board of Newport News Public Schools regarding qualities desired in the district’s next superintendent.

Friends of Triple Helix,

Newport News Public Schools is currently conducting a search for its next superintendent. This search includes the opportunity for parents, students, staff, and the NNPS community to make comments about the qualities they wish to see in the next superintendent. Comments can be made via two public hearings as well as this online survey [link removed] until January 21– less than 2 weeks from now.

Please join us in spending a few minutes to complete the survey. As you contribute your comments, we hope you’ll consider ways that the next superintendent of Newport News Public Schools may enhance Triple Helix’s mission to draw students into STEM careers by providing them an unrivaled experience of working alongside industry professionals, cooperatively solving tough problems and helping to deepen their understanding of the skills needed to be a top contributor to the emerging knowledge economy.

We hope you’ll include a few words in your survey response to convey how valuable STEM programs like FIRST are. Here are our specific recommendations.

9. What is the one talent or skill that the new superintendent should have to do this job well?
The new superintendent should be an advocate for flexibility and innovation in school systems, with an ability to draw together community stakeholders who have a mutual vested interest in growing capable and motivated learners.

10. In your opinion, what should be a key priority for the new superintendent moving forward?
Within his or her Agenda for Public Education, the next superintendent should prioritize a comprehensive program for modern STEM education that extends well beyond the classroom; such a program may include the the following measures:

  • In collaboration with the school board, add a budget line item for support of the STEM competition teams which provide NNPS students an unrivaled experience of working alongside industry professionals, cooperatively solving tough problems and helping to deepen their understanding of the skills needed to be top contributors to the emerging knowledge economy.
  • With nonprofit and corporate community partners, establish a development and outreach facility for NNPS STEM competition teams; such a facility would also leverage Title IV Part B – 21st Century Community Learning Center federal funds to link together and amplify the successful STEM outreach being done by existing local organizations for the benefit of a greater community of NNPS students.

Fundamental resource archive

Compiled by mentor Nate Laverdure in fall 2016, this document lists the top resources that have been helpful in his growth as an engineer and a mentor.  They are representative of his interests and opinions, and therefore lean towards mechanical systems and fabrication techniques.

Taken together, they constitute his idea of an archive of fundamental resources (papers, presentations, videos, websites, etc) which are essential to being “good at robots” in modern FRC. The idea isn’t quite right– in truth, every team has the capability for designing and fielding excellent winning robots regardless of how well-developed their library of knowledge is. However, compiling these resources gives new FRC designers a significant leg up by rapidly exposing them from lessons learned from hundreds of people, some of them with over two decades of experience in this competitive robotics program.

The biggest thing to learn from these resources is simple: that nothing in FRC is so complex or far advanced that it can’t be understood by anyone willing to put in the time to understand it.


The GuamFIRST Files

GuamFIRST is an imaginary FIRST local Franchise Organization located in the Western Pacific.


Your Path to Advancement from Student to Key Volunteer – March 2016 – Document, Chief Delphi discussion

Working and Winning as an Alliance: Making the most of your playoff experience at GuamFIRST events – March 2017 – Document, CD discussion

Position Description: GuamFIRST FRC Senior Mentor – December 2017 – Document, CD discussion

GuamFIRST FRC Rookie Application – March 2019 – Document, CD discussion

Grantmaking Using Actionable Metrics (GUAM) – August 2019 – Document, CD Discussion

Bumper number guide – March 2023 – Document, CD discussion