Before the 2012 build season begins, all of the veterans, teachers, and mentors will train the rookies in the ways of engineering, electronics, programming, pneumatics, animation, and drive systems in separate seminars during the weeks leading up to kickoff. This is useful because the initial training of new members is able to occur before the new season starts, leaving us ready to begin straight away. All members who attend, as well as our team, benefit greatly from this pre-season preparation. Although Pi-Tech Academy occurs before build season, we are still learning new things everyday as we work to complete the task at hand.
Power and Control Division
Pi-Tech Academy is very important for the Electrical Sub-Team because it is the time when students learn all the skills they will use during the season. Students learn how to cut, strip, and crimp wires, they sometimes even learn how to solder. They then plan out and create a fully functioning electrical board. This board may even be used with a test chassis to create a working robot before the build season even starts.
During Pi-Tech, the new members learn all of the various skills needed for pneumatics. To do this, the sub team builds a pneumatics testing board. This board is then used during the season to test pneumatic pistons for a variety of uses. It contains a regulator, a release valve and a solenoid valve. It allows us to easily accomplish our two main goals, teaching the rookie about pnuematics and allowing us to protect other parts of the robot.
The Programming Sub-Team teaches the new members of the team about the basic functions of LabVIEW. Throughout the course of Pi-Tech the team learns the different concepts of programming and ultimately the actions of each button on LabVIEW. The first assignment of the team is to understand the use of controls and indicators. Working closely with their mentors to learn different ways to write code, they write code to try on the old robot. The leaders of the sub-team hope to bring their new members to their greatest potential before the build season.
During Pi-Tech the Carpentry Sub-Team teaches the new members the proper way to use the power tools. During Pi-Tech the carpentry veterans instruct the rookies on how to properly and safely use power tools as they work on pre-season projects, such as building goals for a mock play field.
Throughout Pi-Tech academy, new members of the Chassis Team learn the names of tools, and the location of tools in the auto shop. Under the supervision of veteran team members, they practice building and taking apart an old chassis and breaking chain and putting it together with master links. In short, Pi-Tech for mechanical members consists of learning the fundamentals that will later help create a full chassis during the build season.
During Pi-Tech, the Mechanical Team learns the basics in designing and machining parts for a robot. The members are given a situation and have to figure out a solution for said scenario. For example, they use a task the robot had to do during the prior year and they have to figure out a different way of accomplishing it from how it was done before. This helped teach the team how to go through the design process of creating mechanisms for the robot. After that, they were given a specific shape that they need to create to design. This teaches them how to use the different machines safely and proficiently. This team is led by Mr. Pantalone, a mentor with years of experience working with machines, as well as past veterans.
During Pi-Tech Academy, the 3D Animation Team learns a basic knowledge of Autodesk Maya. The first step to learning how to use this program is making a ball bounce. Though it is a simple animation, the team spends days learning how to first model an object, then learning the basic principles of animating (ie: the "everything moves in an arch" rule), and animating an object using keyframes. The sub-team also learns how to texture an object.
CAD (Computer Aided Design):
During Pi-Tech academy, the sub team taught its students the basics of Autodesk Inventor, and explained how 3D modeling is important to the team in the professional engineering world. From basic tools within sketch mode and extruding these sketches to make parts, to wiring various electrical parts into a complex circuit, the CAD Sub-Team is responsible for the creation of the robot without physically constructing anything.
During Pi-Tech academy the information technology subteam teaches all the members about website design and introduces them to languages such as HTML, CSS, and PHP. This year the team taught its new additions how to create new articles and manage the website, as well as the basics of scouting.
During Pi-tech, the new Media Sub-Team members familiarize themselves with Final-cut Express software.The members use the program to make several short videos describing various team activities. For example, they made one about how the team gives back to the community, one about sponsor night, and one about First Lego League. They prepared to film and broadcast the First Lego League Tournament, and they took as much footage of Pi-Tech academy as possible.
During Pi-Tech, the Non-Tech Sub-Team learns what they need to do to work efficiently throughout the upcoming build season. Not only do they read over past award submissions, but they learn how to improve them as well. In addition, they learn how to use Microsoft Excel so that they will know how to log in items that the team orders, and eventually create the Bill of Materials.