If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams
Team 399 Eagle Robotics embodies this idea with the success of our past and the promise of growth and continued success in our future. Our dreams are built upon a strong foundation, and that foundation starts with our own people. We work hard throughout the year to train our members in valuable skills designed not only to equip them for Team 399 and their future careers, but also to make them more effective in spreading STEM awareness throughout the community. This year, in addition to our regular shop level training, we founded our new student-led Robotics University. Each student teacher developed his or her own syllabus for classes in public relations, graphic design, machining, CAD, and programming. With the acquisition of our new CNC (Computer Numerical Control) router we have gained a valuable asset not only for our team, but others in our area. Through opportunities like these, our members build character and acquire skills, ensuring growth and preparing them for the road ahead.
Armed with these skills, 399 members proceed out into the community to spark interest in technology and industrial applications, visiting numerous schools. We not only demonstrate our FRC, FTC, and FLL robots, but also give video presentations in multimedia, showing kids how our team develops skills in photography, videography, web design, and outreach. 399 helps sustain an interest in FIRST through the five FLL and four FRC teams we mentor and assist. Our Open Shop Concept has further solidified our relationships with these teams and allows us to share our expertise and experience, helping them on their path to success in FIRST. We also support these teams by annually hosting the High Desert Lego Tournament, an unofficial FLL scrimmage, and running the AV Techno Classic, an FLL qualifying tournament.
Further from home, we’ve continued to promote our Global Outreach instructional videos on “How to Start an FLL Team.” Geared toward potential robotics students worldwide, these videos reach an ever-expanding audience as we have added Arabic and Thai, giving us 6 translations thus far. We also partner with NASA, Lockheed, and other local FIRST teams to host our week long Summer Robotics Workshop, enabling 4th-8th graders to experience the excitement of manufacturing a VEX robot and participating in a mini-competition designed by 399. Our primary goal in holding workshops and presenting to local schools is to give youth an opportunity to experience new interests. For example, our workshops for 5th-8th graders include the Eggstronaut (the classic egg-dropping experiment), and the Multimedia Workshop. This year, we started our first annual Bottle Rocket activity. Also added this year, was our FIRST for Girls event which introduced female students to our team and the greater FIRST organization. For the past seven years, we have invited 7th and 8th graders into our shop over a five-week period during build season for our Eaglets program, which has quadrupled in number of participants. This program is designed to inspire potential Eagles to dream more while allowing them to learn more about how an FRC team operates.
To advance our dreams of unity, we do more than just teach skills and instill passion for STEM. We must be a caring presence to the people around us, and we must strive to engage with our community and sustain that dream. This year, as in years past, one could find 399 members creating thoughtful get well cards for pediatric patients or writing encouraging sentiments to active duty military in our Holiday Cards for Heroes program. We hosted blood drives and participated in Adopt-A-Plane, a program dedicated to the maintenance of retired aircraft. As advocates for No Kid Hungry, we began collecting non-perishable food for our community and to date we have collected over 3,500 pounds. Our commitment to assembling and distributing over 1,600 Thanksgiving baskets to families has continued to provide for those in need. To bring awareness to women’s heart health, we encourage our school to participate in National Wear Red Day annually. We also volunteered our time at the Painted Turtle, an innovative camp for children with life-threatening diseases, and visited the local veteran’s home, making Valentine cards and demonstrating our robot to the residents who always enjoy being updated on our program. Additionally, both Laps 4 Literacy and monthly Robot Read Alouds are our initiatives to do more, as promoting education is a major aspect of our dream and commitment to our community. New this year, we invited the general public, dignitaries, sponsors, and alumni to our Open House, featuring our team history, facilities, and subteams. Our presence in our community is also prevalent in the countless activities we attend, advocating the ideals of FIRST to nearly 265,000 at the Holiday Parade, LA County Air Show, Poppy Festival, American Heroes Celebration, Antelope Valley Fair, and Civilian Military Support Gathering, among others. We engage students in our local schools, asking K-8th graders to participate in our Name-a-Robot contest.
As we strive to become more well-known within the FIRST family, we utilize Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, and our website. Eagle Robotics publishes a monthly newsletter to provide insight into our team dynamics. Our Rookie Vlogs, which detail team experiences from a beginner’s point of view, is a new addition. Our #JustFIRSTthings posts feature fun, relatable captions and images geared toward the FIRST community. These memes garner thousands of views weekly. As always, we bring our enthusiasm with us to St. Louis every year where FRC teams, who miss their own prom attending Championships, look forward to our annual RoboProm which draws nearly 2,000 attendees yearly. Last year, we established the RoboProm Scholarship as our way of helping others accomplish their dreams.
Because we repeat many of these programs each year, we continually learn. We are proud of our past successes and the fact that we sustain and improve our efforts. As a team from a public school located in an aerospace community, we understand that technology can be a child’s ticket to a better life. To help both our community and our local engineering industries, we have worked to establish deep commitments and partnerships. We have established a close relationship with the Lancaster Academy of Multimedia Programming and Engineering (LAMPE) at Lancaster High School. This program offers its students the resources they need to think critically, work collaboratively, and develop problem solving skills. In both LAMPE and Robotics, students are introduced to new innovations and potential career paths in technologically advanced fields. These new partnerships bring us together and allow us to continuously interact and provide on-demand support and resources throughout the year. In short, we welcome them to call upon us any time they need our help. When NASA approached us to mentor for their month-long Lego Workshop at the Boys & Girls Club, we stepped up to assist. When a teacher at our school asked for our help in holding a Girls for STEM seminar, we responded by contacting local women engineers to inspire the girls of our school. We also provided volunteers when a middle school educator messaged our team needing guidance with organizing and running a local underwater robotics workshop. To us, this is what it means to establish partnerships and deep commitments in our community.
Our efforts to become more have not gone unnoticed. We were honored to have been invited to the State Capitol by current Congressman Steve Knight where we demonstrated our robot on the front steps of the capitol building, while embodying the virtues of FIRST to state senators. Our team was also introduced on the senate floor and presented with a Senate Resolution, extolling us for our achievements in the FIRST program, promotion of STEM, and involvement in the community. Because we are a recognized team that represents FIRST and STEM, we were a part of the grand opening activities for Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center. We were honored to display our robot and represent FIRST. Lancaster’s minor league baseball team hosted an Aerospace Appreciation Night and invited us to throw the first pitch. Our team was also privileged to receive the highly prestigious Navigating Change Award from the Antelope Valley Board of Trade. Usually given to an individual, we are the first group to win its nomination, and we are proud to be in the esteemed company of Burt Rutan, among others. Most recently, we were presented with the California School Boards Association’s Golden Bell Award that recognized our team for being an innovative and exemplary program.
Now in our 17th season, Eagle Robotics continues to grow. Veterans and Rookies bond through our annual welcome party and RoboGames, our yearly sporting event. We have made a tradition of sharing meals together during build season and have transitioned from a team into a family. Our impact extends beyond graduation. Team 399 alumni are becoming who they dreamt to be. People like Jonathan Wells, who worked on the capsule design for the Red Bull Stratos launch, David Henry, an aerial photographer for Northrop Grumman, and Amber Frauhiger, a Disney Engineer, among others, have dreamt more, learned more, done more, and become more. These alumni and others have made a lasting impact not only on our community, but on each of us individually, allowing us to grow as a team. That growth is key to Eagle Robotics’ continued success. We are following our own paths as we dream and learn of what we will do and become.