TEAM MISSION STATEMENT:
We strive to empower local students to further their knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) through mentor-based robotics programs that aid in applying experiences to future careers by emphasizing individual and team achievements, attention to details, leadership skills, and integrity that includes gracious professionalism™.
Our core values include collaboration with students, mentors, and STEAM professionals; excellence in individual student achievement, communication skills, and a highly competitive robot design and strategy; and empowerment through respect for others (including opponents), growth in self-confidence, and leadership skills.
Our vision for the Mckenzie Center for Innovation and Technology (MCIT) Robotics program is to help our students feel comfortable and confident in their ability to learn techniques and real world skills, like communication, teamwork, and leadership. These skills can be applied to future jobs and experiences. About 94% of our 123 alumni pursue science, technology, and/or engineering futures. About 93% successfully move on to secondary education after high school. This is 3% higher than our overall school district
Our 2017 Kil-A-Bytes leadership team has 6 students and 12 mentors. Our ideology is that experienced students teach the newer students how to use the machines and about our shop’s organization. Typically new students start with the VEX Robotics program then transition into our FRC team. Through student-led concept and design reviews, students gain leadership skills and team communication thrives.
The McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology began its FIRST journey in 2003. Located in Lawrence, IN, the Kil-A-Bytes shop began as a 25 by 35 ft classroom; now we have a fully functional machine shop four times that size. Our in-house capabilities include: CNC mills, lathes, 3-D printers, and many other machines donated to us. In 2016, we won all three district events, the Indiana State Championship, the Woodie Flowers Finalist award, and multiple Industrial Design awards. At the World Championship we were Finalists in the Carson Division.
Team 1024 has grown from it’s original 12 to 38 current students. Female student participation increased from 15% our rookie season to 19% in 2016 and is now 23%. When the team was formed, we only had six mentors; we now have a total of 12 who help shape and mold us into a highly competitive, winning team. Six of these mentors are FRC alumni.
This year our team experienced many changes that challenged us to improve. With growth in students and machines, our shop was disorganized before the season started. We spent weeks in the Fall planning and then creating shelves and hangers for our tools, and crates for our supplies. Our founding mentor, Jason, moved out of state; his influence is always key to our competitive success. We overcame this challenge by using our new telepresence robot for remote mentoring. Another obstacle was deciding who will be our new student leaders. Strong 2016 leaders graduated and passed their roles to younger members, three Seniors and three Juniors.
Kil-A-Byte students and parents raise about 28% of our budget by selling poinsettias during the holidays and working concessions at the Indiana Robotics Invitational in the summer. They also help fundraising efforts by recruiting local professionals and business owners. For example this year, student Sam wrote a letter to the Jochum-Moll Foundation who awarded us a grant of $2,500 and a telepresence robot for remote mentoring. We always thank sponsors with a personalized framed plaque that highlights our accolades. The funds raised are managed properly by lead mentor, Jeff Smith, and processed through the school’s treasurer, allowing us to function as a tax deductible program.
The Kil-A-Bytes recruit students and mentors to join each year by participating in open houses, local school expos, and demos. Students who participate make up a cultural blend from multiple high schools who we recruit by word of mouth, flyers around the schools, and teacher encouragement. This year’s students from Lawrence Central and Lawrence North high schools, and homeschool programs.
Holding FIRST values like gracious professionalism to a high standard, our team competes like champions and cheers on every robot regardless of team number. An example of this is when we hosted an Israeli team for IRI. We provided transportation to them after learning they had walked to the event from their hotel. We placed their pits between us and team 234 for easy access to help. One of our mentors, Mr. Smith, hosted a bonfire for them, invited them to his house to swim, and took them to Dave & Busters.
On the Kil-A-Bytes, communication and team structure is key to our success. Our hierarchy of leadership is annually fluid, based on student skills. Student leaders educate peers on how to use tools and machines, lead concept and design reviews, and inspire other students to become leaders in the future. Mentors on 1024 bring a variety of expertise that mesh well together and inspire students to learn an abundance of new skills. As the team grows, new students participate in VEX, so competent students assimilate faster into FRC. Most 1024 students are inspired by our team to take high level weighted or dual credit high school courses.
Through 2014-2016 we engaged students in robotics and STEAM at eight local schools through demos and live events. In the community we volunteer at demonstrations like GenCon’s League of Extraordinary Programmers to educate and spread the word about FIRST. In our two township schools, team 1024 students help run middle school robotics camps as well as VEX IQ events. These programs help kids, without previous robotics experience, engage in activities that inspires them to pursue FIRST in the future.
Relationships with our sponsors are critical. Our team engages sponsors by writing them letters and emails, as well as live personal demos. At the end of every season we send them a thank you plaque. This year, we will invite all of our sponsors to our team bonfire celebration. This helps us inspire a deeper connection with our sponsors that entails more than just money and creates lasting bonds that retain donors year to year.
DEPLOYMENT OF RESOURCES:
We attend many events in our local community, doing service work, and spreading FIRST values. All of this advances the appreciation of science and technology in our community. This is a brief list of some of our regular activities that help the community of Indiana FIRST:
Geist Half Marathon clean-up and recycling
Maker Faire Exhibition
Celebrate Science Exhibition
Rolls-Royce Open House demonstration
Interactive Intelligence demonstration
Community North Health Fair Exhibition
Indiana Blood Drive at IRI
Tech Summer Camp for Lawrence Township middle school students
JW Marriott Science Exchange demonstration
GenCon League of Extraordinary Programmers demonstration
VEX IQ competition volunteers at Fall Creek Valley
Plus various other elementary and middle school presentations.
Participating in these exhibitions and demonstrations continues to inspire those who get to see our robots in action, encouraging more and more people to get involved in FIRST. This is evident when talking to current 1024 students who remember past Kil-A-Byte presentations and demonstrations at their middle schools and elementary schools. When students lead presentations in the community, they gain important public speaking skills and confidence. Students cite how important it is to give back to former schools and teachers who inspired them, and how doing so invokes a sense of pride in their accomplishments. Volunteering provides a sense of community to our team members.
In the next three years, Team 1024’s future plans include improving our sponsorship base to increase our budget by at least $15,000. Participating in the IndianaFIRST Brackets for Good incentives is a new focus for us this year, which allows new sponsors to streamline their donation. To encourage companies to become part of our team, we plan to have open houses for sponsors to come to see our progress. We will also invite sponsors to our end of the year team bonfire celebration.
We plan to improve our inter-team relationships by having more team-building events besides just bonfires. We also plan to have alumni events and trainings to help our team members learn from our previous team members. We will improve our award documentation process to include submitting for the Chairman’s Award and documenting our team impact year-round. We also want to recruit students from other local schools (specifically Lawrence Central and Heritage Christian High School) that currently are not involved in FRC. These improvements can help us achieve two of our major goals: winning the World Championship and IRI.
Improving our community outreach is another way of expanding FIRST’s impact. One of our main future plans is to have more FRC students mentor lower level robotics teams. We also plan on presenting FIRST to local groups, like the Lawrence Community Development Corporation. With the goal of creating rookie teams to help IndianaFIRST grow, we will present our team to private schools such as Cathedral, Bishop Chatard, and St. Lawrence high schools.
Started July 1, 2015 with $9,747.14
Ended June 30th 2016 with $12,852.18
2015-2016 Spent: $36,728.25
2015-2016 Received: $39,833.29
We have about $40,000 in our 2016-2017 budget, coming from a variety of sources. Our gracious sponsors donate about 32% of funding, the largest from Rolls Royce, MTD, and Service Engineering. Another 30%of our budget comes from annual $400 student fees; however, if a student can’t afford this rigorous bill they still earn their way to competitions by coaching at our annual robotics camp, facilitating sponsorships, and gaining credit for working team events. Students also solicit donations from their dentists, doctors, and family member’s businesses. Only about 10% of our team budget comes from grants. The remaining 28% comes from fundraising efforts, including selling poinsettias during the holidays, and in the summer working concessions at the Indiana Robotics Invitational. These two fundraisers are valuable student efforts that not only raise money but develop a solid work ethic in team members.
We expect to spend about 90% of our budget during the 2016-2017 season. The expenses involved are costly; however, we always make sure that our budget gets dispersed responsibly. The breakdown follows: our robot expenses cost about 15%, Team uniforms are about 3%, Travel fees need about 50%, and other miscellaneous expenses (including registration for official events) consume about 22% of our budget. We expect to roll over about 10% of our budget to next year. We also have lofty a goal of recruiting more sponsors to increase our budget by $15,000.
STRENGTHS: Thanks to our school’s Career Center, our diverse students bring many skills, including CAD, programming, machining, and documenting. All members have a constant sense of determination and dedication: we know our failures lead to improvements in the future. Mentors are incredibly helpful and provide assorted expertise. Student and mentor collaboration is valued. Our organization and time management skills are strong.
WEAKNESSES: We need to engage our sponsors year-round better. Keeping our shop clean needs more attention. This is only the second year we created awards submissions, and they need higher priority on the team. Also, keeping in better contact with our alumni would enhance our potential.
OPPORTUNITIES: Engaging in more outreach events is vital because they allow potential recruits to talk with our team and learn all about robotics. We’d also like to better prepare our student leaders. Currently we have ways to contact our alumni, however we need to improve how often we do so, to increase alumni impact on our team through mentoring, training, and networking with potential sponsors. Brackets for Good is another opportunity to recruit new sponsors.
THREATS: Our founding mentor, Mr. Smith, has been teaching before the team’s creation 14 years ago and there’s always possibility of his retirement. Jason, another key mentor, is moving out of state due to his job; we keep in contact thanks to our new telepresence robot. Student leaders graduating and being replaced by younger students is another worry. Losing sponsors is the biggest potential threat.