Offseason Learning

Since MVRC, our team has been working on developing new skills. Through the course of building an offseason robot, we realized how important our robot’s CAD drawing was to the team. It was essentially our build instructions. It is how we determined what length to cut beams and how to assemble the robot. We decided to use October and November to take some CAD lessons.

We are very grateful to Dr. Matt Caputo, our CAD mentor and a professor at Penn State Shenango for teaching us how to use Solidworks every Tuesday. Dr. Caputo is teaching us how to construct designs from scratch. We are looking forward to using these skills when we design our next robot. It will also be a useful skill when we need to design custom holders for electronics and camera mounts.

We selected Solidworks for a variety of reasons. It is the CAD software used by several major universties near us, including Penn State and Carnegie Mellon University. Solidworks also provides FIRST students with a free team license. As a rookie team with a tight budget, getting free software is helpful. A few of our team members also have prior exposure to Solidworks through 3D printing.

In addition to CAD, another Penn State Shenango faculty member has started teaching us some Python. Although not everyone on the team is going to be a programmer, our team philosophy it to expose everyone to everything so that we all have a basic understanding of what we are doing and why. Hence, everyone on our team will be exposed to programming and CAD.

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