By: Arha G, 2nd-Year Sophomore
Being an elementary schooler, easily influenced by the acts and actions of other people, I became interested in becoming a computer software engineer simply because of the fact that my mom was a computer software engineer. However, this interest changed my life for the better. I learned how to code, a life skill that I hope to use in my future career in biotechnology.
Then, I didn’t realize that the reason I joined robotics was because of two things: a developing interest in STEM and the presence of strong female role models within my life. I thought that I joined robotics because it seemed to be fun and because my friends were a part of it. Now, as a sophomore in high school, still invested in the field of STEM, I realize that robotics is the starting point of my interest in biotechnology. Without being introduced to programming, I would not have been introduced to gene editing, something where my programming experience comes into play. I also realize that being able to be influenced by the females in STEM and seeing them succeed influenced me to join STEM-related programs, such as robotics, GEMS, and GPS. Anne Wojcicki, the founder of 23 and Me, was one of the primary reasons I became invested in biotechnology. Ada Lovelace, the creator of code, inspires me to keep programming. Marie Curie, one of the most recognized women in the field of science, gives me inspiration to keep learning about more pathways within STEM. Kathryn Johnson taught me the importance of math. Rajeshwari Chatterjee paved the way for me to pursue a career in engineering or science.
As a result of the actions of these powerful women, I was inspired to be a woman in STEM. I want the younger generation to have the opportunity to be inspired by similar women. Organizations such as Build Brave Girls aid this goal and help provide girls with this opportunity. These organizations do for other people what Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie, Anne Wojcicki, Rajeshwari Chatterjee, and Kathryn Johnson do for me. Let’s help future generations learn the importance of STEM.
By Jay B, Junior, 3rd Year
Recently, an amazing feat has been achieved by Disney Imagineer Lanny Smoot. This February, Smoot accomplished the feat of receiving his 100th career patent, the first to do so in the history of the Walt Disney company.
Imagineers are responsible for researching and developing ideas for the Walt Disney Company. Including over 140 jobs, Imagineers are in charge of dreaming, designing, and building Disney theme parks, attractions, cruise ships, and resorts.
Lanny Smoot has spent over forty-two years as a theatrical creator, inventor, electric engineer, and scientist, twenty-two of those years have been spent working with the Walt Disney company. Smoot’s passion for creating and inventing was inspired by his father. Recalling his childhood, Smoot said, “Growing up, our family did not have a lot of money. My dad was a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and taught himself to make many mechanical gadgets, including several of my early toys. One of my earliest childhood memories was him bringing home an electric bell, a light bulb, some batteries and wire. He set up the bell to ring and the bulb to light, and that lit my career!” According to Because of Them We Can, Smoot began his career working in technology and research at Walt Disney Imagineering. Since then, Smoot and his team have been responsible for the creation of Disney inventions, like Madame Leota’s floating head as apart of the Haunted Mansion attraction, the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, and the virtual interactive koi ponds at the Crystal Lotus Restaurant at Hong Kong Disneyland hotel.
by Yan L, 1st Year, Junior
Technology as a whole has changed our society in ways that have replaced the past inefficient ways of doing things. Whether that is from automation in businesses to our smartphones, it is hard to deny that technology has changed the way of accomplishing most tasks. No topic illustrates this point more than the introduction of automated vehicles, which are also known as self-driving cars. Several years ago, people would have laughed at the prospect of the creation of “cars that drive by themselves”, however, this is slowly becoming a reality, through companies like Tesla, Ford, Audi, and more. The main technology used for these self-driving cars is vision technology, and this technology is also almost always used with top FRC teams around the globe.
The typical norm for operating a vehicle on the road is by human interaction using a steering wheel. However, with the introduction of automated vehicles, all driving operations are done by a computer inside the vehicle. Autopilot on a Tesla car works by using cameras and sensors similar to those used for vision programming in FRC, that take in information from the outside environment and transmit that information to a computer inside the car. In FRC, we used cameras and a limelight sensor in order to detect certain objects, based on properties such as reflection, contours, edges, etc. The detected objects are shown in white and the code takes that image, and calculates the position and distance from the object. That information is then processed through an algorithm to make the turret on our FRC Robot, Pyxis, track the target. Similar to how we used vision for FRC, the computer on the Tesla car interprets the information detected from the cameras and sensors and acts on it in a matter of milliseconds, which according to Tesla will “...provide drivers with an awareness of their surroundings that a driver alone would not otherwise have.” This type of technology has many implications in regard to safety and efficiency. If any dangerous scenario happens on the road, the computer can quickly compute and tell the car what to perform in a matter of milliseconds before catastrophe strikes. With this technology, you could reduce the annual 1.2 million traffic fatalities to a much lower number. In regards to FRC and robotics, this technology increases efficiency and decreases the complexity in doing tasks in autonomous and tele-operated..
There are many other technological innovations in development currently that will revolutionize the way we see or do things, and automated vehicles are one of the first steps into this revolution. With these advancements coming soon into the future, more lives can be saved and tasks can be accomplished in a shorter amount of time. Although some people challenge the idea of future technological developments related to automation, ultimately it is hard to deny that without the technology we have today, basic tasks that we take for granted today would be much more tedious. In the case of vision programming and object detection, it would be extremely jarring to complete a handful of tasks on a time limit without it during an FRC competition. Technology is a massive part of changing our future, and its influence will continue to prosper for centuries.
Inspiration Among Us
By: Austin Y, 1st Year Sophomore
Skills that we use in FRC in order to develop robots can be used in all aspects of life. For example, the development process that our team uses can be applied to any project in the future. Every project needs planning, teamwork, and effective communication. Being in robotics helps future designers and programmers to learn how to efficiently and effectively develop and plan projects. Inspiration to join robotics can come from many sources, from something like seeing a FIRST robotics competition or even something as simple as playing a game you enjoy.
We live in a society that runs on code. Computers, smart phones, and the internet are all great inventions of the 21st century that define our society today. Through the modernization and development of technology, the integration of code allows each individual person to create and implement their own ideas. During quarantine, since people were unable to talk to each other in person, a game known as Among Us became popular. Among Us was developed in 2018 by Innersloth, and was inspired by the popular party game Mafia. The game is similar to Mafia, where there are different roles for the characters. In Among Us, there were originally 2 roles, the impostor and the crewmate, since the game is set in space. Innersloth’s continuous updates led to its popularity greatly increasing due to continuous updates and mods.
Like many other games, Among Us was written in C# using the Unity Engine. The Unity engine is a popular engine for many programmers who are game designers. C# is a language developed by Microsoft in order to rival the Java development language. The origin of many coders starts here. They are inspired by something they see, anything they see, that has been made with code. For many people, games like Among Us have inspired them to become interested in coding. As they become more skillful in coding, their confidence expands, leading them to join local events related to coding such as FIRST. Today, Among Us is one of the most popular games in our generation. It motivates people to create for the game, which inspires many future programmers and designers. Childhood experiences such as gaming can lead to the development of an inspiration that can lead them to join FRC and live fulfilling lives.
By Jay B, 3rd year Junior
Prior to the writing of this piece, I was working on a media project for the 2022 season and I began to think about how my time in media on this team first started and how I’ve grown so much in what I do since I was a freshman. My first introduction to the Columbus Space Program’s media team was at the 2019 Columbus Event, when I visited CSP’s pit during the competition. Then-CSP-member Kevin G was at the front of the pit introducing myself and others to everything that being on the robotics team encompasses, and that is when media was first brought up. Even though it was a very small interaction, this is what not only sparked my interest in being a part of CSP, but it also sparked my interest in media. Prior to that, I had never thought in a million years that I could do graphic design on a robotics team.
Coming onto the team as a freshman, I had no knowledge of anything about graphic design. I could draw, but I didn’t know anything about using software on a computer to create things. I was taught so much about graphic design from CSP alum, Kevin G, as well as a multitude of Youtube videos and Google “How-to” searches. My first little foray into graphic design was helping design the old logo for the CSP Astrobots. I was uneducated at the time, so unfortunately, the old logo that I created was unable to be put to use for the Astrobots t-shirt. However, I was still proud of what I created and was excited for what I’d get to create later on.
Going into the FRC season in January, I was assigned with more media tasks, like creating signs for the pit. All of these projects I was very excited to complete. Unfortunately, the season was cut short due to COVID-19, but the next year I would get to create more. Overtime, I began to see my work progress from what I was making freshman year. For example, during the 2021 FRC season, I created a logo for the FIRST Game Design Challenge, as well as a logo for CSP Green. Both pieces of work I am extremely proud of because they truly show how much I have progressed since the beginning. And now here I am this season doing more.
I’m truly excited to continue to create for this team and am so proud of myself for all of the work that I have created and what is to come.
Not a Rookie -- But a Rookie
by Arha G, Sophomore 2nd Year
Build Season. The epitome of every robotics member’s life. Spending endless hours at HQ, working on robots, managing wires, scouting teams, and reading lines of code. The heart of build season. This is my first build season as a member of FRC 4188, even though I’m not a rookie. With everything going on, from COVID-19 to virtual competitions, to no real competition season at all, the rookie season I experienced was so much different than an actual build season. I’ve learned so much more during this competition season than I could have dreamed of. This build season has already had its fair share of twists and turns as well as tumultuous moments. But, at the same time, it has also had its fair share of memorable moments of joy.
I’m a member of the programming, media, and scouting team, and the hands-experience I’ve gained in these two weeks of build season has been priceless. I’ve gotten the chance to learn so much more than I thought was possible. I’ve gotten the chance to further expand my programming, speaking, and scouting skills. I’ve gotten the chance to expand my leadership opportunities and ideals. I’ve also gotten the chance to do work for outreach all at the same time. I’m not the only person who’s learned more about the vast field of robotics.
Rookie member Austin Y said, “This experience at FRC 4188 has enriched my programming skills, my public speaking skills, and my mechanical skills.”
Sidney S, team co-captain, said that these two weeks have been amazing for her to develop her leadership skills.
Ta’Shaun B, 3rd Year Member, expressed his love for the fact that build season was a pathway to higher education. “I learned a little bit of everything. A little bit of pneumatics, a little bit of electrical, a little bit of welding, as well as a little bit of programming.”
Izabella T, rookie member, articulated her favorite part of robotics. “CSP is so inclusive. We have so many integration programs, such as scouting, and it has helped me reach out and connect to so many other people.”
The experiences we learned in these past two weeks have proved to be irreplaceable as high school students. We’ve created so many ways to learn how to do what we love: STEM. It’s an experience that we would not have without robotics.
Find an Example - Be an Example
by Arha G, 2nd-year, Sophomore
Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. These are all considered the most influential computer programmers of all time. I had known about these men since I was in kindergarten. They were all over every magazine, newspaper, and social media post about programming. Every cover photo of Times, every article about technology in Fortune, and every headline involving the internet on The Wall Street Journal involved a shot of them donating millions of dollars, getting sued over privacy rights, or coming out with a new product. They were, and still are the cover photos humanity sees over the vast field known as computer science. Even so, they were not the catalyst of my ever-growing interest in coding. People like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and Carol Shaw were the ones who reeled me into the ocean of computer science. Seeing people like me in a field normally dominated by males made me realize that women do contribute to computer science. Without Ada Lovelace, code wouldn’t exist in the first place. Without Grace Hopper, programming languages wouldn’t be as complex as they are today. Without Carol Shaw, the video game industry wouldn’t be the same.
These women, and many others, were the ones who inspired me to be a part of FIRST. I started off as a fourth-grader when I was first introduced to the program. A few months before the announcement to join the robotics team was made, I read a book about Ada Lovelace. Reading that biography and speaking with a professional computer programmer, my mother, after reading about such an influential woman instilled a passion for coding within me. As a result, I joined the robotics team at my elementary school, and from there, my programming journey began. I coded for 3 years on FLL and coded for another 2 years on FTC. When I was introduced to FTC in 8th grade, I was appointed lead programmer. This one action changed my life for the better. I then coded for Team Ecliptic in 9th grade, and now, as a sophomore in high school, I code for FRC 4188, still, to this day, learn new programming techniques, as they differ from robot to robot.
My passion for programming was invigorated when I discovered that women play an influential part in the coding world. I stuck with it, and now, I realize the importance of learning how to code. The point is, anyone can learn how to code, and everyone should learn how to, despite their gender, race, ethnicity, or age. With the new, more technologically oriented world, knowing how to code is becoming more and more important. We need to help other females understand that coding is for everyone and that it is possible to learn. We need to help them understand not to be intimidated by the fact that coders are mostly male. After all, the art of coding was invented by a woman. Why not help the female population integrate back into the world of computer science?
Level Training for All: Columbus Space Program’s Training from a Veteran Perspective
by 3rd year, Jay B
From an outsider’s perspective, I believe that one thing that makes students weary of joining science-related extracurriculars, like robotics, is a lack of knowledge and experience. And understandably so, it is difficult to find the courage to join a club or organization if you fear that you might not know enough to join. I can say that this was one thought that I had as an incoming freshman making the decision on whether or not I should join Columbus Space Program. Even though I had already had five years of experience in other FIRST programs, I was still scared. I had never worked with the tools and machines used to make FRC robots. I had never been on a team of this caliber. I was very scared I would crash and burn. And I can say that there have probably been others who had thought the same thing.
However, after going through Columbus Space Program’s training as a rookie, I can say that it is okay to come in not knowing anything at all. One of the things that I love the most about being a part of Columbus Space Program is that everyone, including rookies, are on a level playing field. Every fall, when new rookies join, they all go through the same basic Mech 1 training. Then from there, individuals can do training in other areas, such as Design, Programming, and Electrical, and work their way up in skill level. This equal training strategy ensures that all rookies are included in training and are treated equally regardless of their ability. As a rookie, this eased a lot of the fear and self-doubt I had coming in.
Now, as a veteran member, I have friends who aren’t a part of Columbus Space Program tell me things like, “Oh I think I might want to join, but also, I’m not 100 percent sure because I have never been in robotics before.” To that, I tell them about CSP’s equal training opportunities for all. And I would tell that to anyone who is looking to join CSP, but may have some doubts about their own ability. At least try basic training, give it a shot, and maybe you’ll find something that you love.
Why You Might Like CSP
CSP started as a space program first. We were doing research for NASA as part of the NASA education programs in the early 2000s. By the end of that decade, however NASA had eliminated the programs we were doing so we created our own. The DREAMS program has recently launched its 32nd high-altitude balloon program, flying to 97,000 feet. But most students are interested in CSP for robotics
We started a robotics team in 2009 at Columbus High School, called the Columbus Iron Works. After three years, we changed the program to be a community-wide program and relaunched as FRC team 4188. In the years since, CSP has grown and expanded and become a program that we take very seriously. In fact, you should think of it as a Varsity Sport -- of the mind. And we run the program as a varsity program, with multiple junior varsity and youth recreation programs building to our ultimate team. We are even modifying the program training starting this summer. But, don't worry. You don't have to even know how to hold a screwdriver to make a difference. You can also choose to learn programming or media design and won't need a screwdriver at all.
We are holding a Zoom presentation meeting to introduce potential new students to the team. We invite you to join us.
Chairman: Purpose and Impact
by Maggie F, 3rd Year, Junior
The FIRST community has long since excelled in the development and support of Coopertition. Namely, the concept describing the balance between competition and supporting each other that is essential to FIRST. The idea behind this philosophy is that FIRST students should be able to compete respectfully and help build others up. To assess how effectively a team creates this atmosphere FIRST developed the Chairman's award. This award, widely considered the most competitive of all FIRST outreach awards, goes to the team that is the most effective at spreading and encouraging FIRST's message.
Among the FIRST competition, this award is the highest outreach award any team can win. At the regional or state level, winning this award automatically advances the winning team to the next competition level. Winning Chairman’s at the worlds levelgrants the team Hall of Fame status. Consequently, teams are incredibly competitive when it comes to competing for this award. While this competitiveness may seem counterintuitive to the FIRST message of Coopertition, it actually functions as a primary supporter. The competitiveness to win this award encourages teams to develop strong outreach programs that have substantial, measurable impacts on the community.
Within CSP, this competitiveness has helped motivate several team alliance programs within the team. For example, CSP has a manufacturing outreach program. This program encompasses the full design to finished product manufacturing system at CSP's headquarters. The manufacturing system includes a CNC, 3D printers, and a powder coater. Moreover, the outreach program allows CSP to extend these resources, and training for these resources, to teams who require manufacturing assistance. While it stemmed from the team's desire to be supportive, this program was bolstered by the Chairman's competition.
Ultimately, while the mindset and behavior targeted in Chairman's is something every FIRST team naturally strives for, this award's integration provides extra motivation. Moreover, the award allows FIRST to recognize and thank the teams who work so diligently at spreading the FIRST message. Winning the Chairman's award is a benchmark for teams and the competition itself helps create a sense of unity and friendly rivalry between teams. This competition also helps to strengthen the bonds of students within teams. Thereupon, the FIRST students develop a stronger team and a more supportive dynamic. This enables FIRST to achieve its primary goal: creating something that has a long-lasting and positive impact on students.
The CSP Blog is written by members of the CSP Media team, with guest blogs by alumni and other guests.