Saturday, April 8, 2017

Southworks Engineering and Robotics Olympics 2017

Southworks Engineering and Robotics Olympics 2017
Hosted by South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA)

I attended the first Robotics Olympics held at South Suburban College in South Holland, IL. I became aware of this event because the president of Whiting Corporation (where I work) put out a notice to the company asking if anyone wanted to attend, and that Whiting Corporation was sponsoring Homewood-Flossmoor High School (my Alma Mater). Needless to say I would have gone to the event anyway because of my desire to support the students. Having Homewood-Flossmoor High School in the competition was icing on the cake.

My background: I am the Quality Manager at Whiting Corporation. I have also been a Senior Application Engineer, Director of Continual Improvement, Product Manager, and Quality Engineer at Whiting. My experience at other companies include a Corporate Process Engineer, Manufacturing Engineer, and Manufacturing Engineering Manager. Even with all of that, my experiences and education qualify me for more. Why? Because I became involved in college, as these high school students are starting to do in high school. 

While going to school at Purdue University I became chapter president and later coordinator for IIE, SME, and the SAE student organizations. We served our school, our local community, helped with incoming freshman orientation, and participated in the college mini Baja SAE car competitions. With all of that, I graduated with a bachelors and associate degrees from the School of Technology in both Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Engineering. I added associate degrees in Manufacturing Engineering and Organizational Leadership. Along the way I made room for certificates in Leadership, Machining, Quality Control, Lean Six Sigma, and was awarded Who’s Who Among Students in Universities and Colleges, Outstanding Senior for Mechanical Engineering Technology, and was given the Purdue Alumni Association Calumet Outstanding Student award.

The point to be made is not my accomplishments at Purdue, but the accomplishments and contributions these high school students will make in society by learning now, before entering a college or university. By combining their fascination, their fun, with life meaning through engineering, math, technology, and science, these students are on the path to surpass me, by far. Though they feel their potential, wait until they realize their potential. I cannot help but smile just thinking about it.

What these students are on the cusp of, is how powerful sponsorship, networking, and support from all around can help to solidify their dream. The partnering of industry sponsorship to high school education is critical for today's education. It is critical for our region. It is critical to the student.

The following high schools were in attendance with the following sponsorship:

Rich East High School - Trialco Aluminum

Rich Central - Chicago Magnesium

Homewood-Flossmoor - Whiting Corporation 

Bloom Trail - SET Enterprises 

Harold L. Richards High School - Alsip MiniMill LLC. 

Crete Monee High School - Bimba Manufacturing 

Hillcrest High School - Mi-Jack Products 

Tinley Park High School - Panduit 

Oak Forest High School - Kocsis Brothers Machine Co. 

Illiana Christian High School - Kay Manufacturing 

Thornton High School - LB Steel 

Thornwood High School - Galagher Asphalt 

Thornridge High School - Ardagh Group

The following are the division winners:

Catapult – Crete Monee

Robo Pathfinder – Illiana Christian

Autonomous Racer – Oak Forest

Sumo Survivor – Illiana Christian

Vex Competition – Homewood-Flossmoor

Two of the most impressive schools who won their events were Crete Monee in the Catapult, and Oak Forest in the Autonomous Racer. Crete Monee hit their target time and time again. It reminded me of my Six Sigma project at Purdue. Oak Forest took an engineering marvel of somewhat old school, and slow pace, to win by a crawl with their combustion driven racer.

With that, here are some photos of the event, starting with Whiting Corporation's sponsorship of Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

The "Robo Pathfinder" track, where the robot had to navigate itself around the path and over the terrain.

The "Catapult" lane. It is not as easy as it looks!

The "Vex Competition" ring, where if it could go wrong, it probably will. The next few photos of the Vex are of the practice. The actual competition pits two teams against each other. This could be two different schools, or two different teams from the same school.

The "Sumo Survivor" ring, where if your robot touches or gets pushed to the yellow ring, your out. This seemed to be the most popular spectator event.

In the next photo the ball is in the air. Hard to really tell. This is where Crete Monee High School repeatedly was hitting the center.

The little engine that could, and did . . . Oak Forest High School . . .

Each school received a plaque for participation, courtesy of Panduit.

This is the time where sportsmanship was at its best. The Thornwood team had problems with opening their claw in order to grab the ball. Instead of forfeiting, they participated, trying to at least knock a ball out of the center ring. Homewood-Flossmoor dropped just one ball in the basket, because that was all that was needed. Sensing awkwardness of just waiting for the time to run out, H-F placed one more ball into the basket for security, then attempted to place balls on Thornwood's closed claw, to help them get one in the basket. Needless to say the crowd enjoyed the sportsmanship of both teams! Another life lesson learned by our teens.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle

School awards. Where schools had multiple teams and only one team won, the entire school was asked to line up for the photo op.

Photos of all the participating students and faculty.

See you next year?!

For more information on Southworks click "here".

For more information on SSMMA click "here".

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