A Brief Discussion of Where We’ve Been
2007 - 2009, Method to Madness
Our team was one of several started up in the area by Caterpillar. Little is known about the team for this time period as those folks have moved on. From the oral history that we've heard, the team split apart with a portion of the team remaining based out of Batavia High School forming Team 2704, Order 2 Chaos.
2009 - 2016, Order 2 Chaos, Team 2704
Reformulated for the 2009 FIRST season, the team was renamed Order 2 Chaos with our current number 2704. During much of this period, the team was active and involved with the community. The team often hosted “Science Blast” programs for introducing grade school age students to science (and earning some money for the team in the process).
Some photos from the past . . .
2016 - present, Roaring Robotics, Team 2704
As vibrant as the Order 2 Chaos team was, the last few years of the Order 2 Chaos team presented some challenges. For the 2014 - 2015 season, only five students remained with the team from the previous season, none of them having more than a season of experience. For the following season (2015 - 2016), our primary sponsor, Caterpillar, suggested that our team merge with another team. Although discussions took place, neither team reached a sufficient comfort level to actually merge. However, the discussions were useful in that we learned about another team and some things that we could do differently.
2016 - The Rebranding
The team leadership realized that something needed to be done to promote and grow the team. The team needed a revamped website, but the existing Order 2 Chaos logo, though an utterly cool graphic design, presented some challenges. The logo didn't scale well to a small size suitable for a website header. In addition, the logo incorporated four colors (teal, black, gray, and white). As such, it was difficult to have a background which would allow the various elements of the logo to show. During a community event, one of our coaches looked at the team banner and realized that she could not tell what the team was by looking at the banner. Some changes were needed to support marketing the team. The coaches then presented the challenge to the students to come up with a new name for the team and associated logo or the coaches would come up with a new Order 2 Chaos logo which was easier to work with. The team accepted the challenge and Roaring Robotics was born.
Here are some photos of some of the discussions taking place to re-brand the team. The name "On Track" was a serious contender, but was not selected.
The “Roaring Robotics” name is a reference to the Roaring ’20’s (not felines). This era was chosen to represent the goals of our team as it was a time of prosperity and ingenuity. If you look closely at the logo, below, there’s a wrench to symbolize our team's hands on approach and a saxophone to represent the jazz age which form the letter “R.” As “Roaring Robotics” is two “R” words, the “R” is squared. Hence the “2” (which shares some of it’s shape with the saxophone). The outer portion of the logo has a nice art deco touch reminiscent of the ’20’s. Look closely and you’ll see that the design has some breaks and some circle connection points - just like a circuit board. The colors date back to the 1920’s, but have been updated with somewhat brighter colors. With a little design assistance from one of our sponsors at the time, Button Man Printing, the team came up with the concepts for the logo.
The logo with the name and slogan looks like:
So, where did the “Go Team 2704” come from? We wanted the team number to show up in our marketing. The gmail address “firstname.lastname@example.org” was already taken (probably by our own team in earlier years). Consequently, we added the “go” in front. It’s still short, it’s positive, and it works. We now use the “GoTeam2704” as the base for our gmail account, two websites (and domains for two others), our Facebook account, and our Twitter account to provide marketing consistency. In addition, should the team decide to rebrand itself down the road, it can do so without having to change the various media accounts.
What about the “Future Focused. Student Driven.” slogan? We realized that we needed a slogan. The “Go Team 2704” wasn’t cutting it as a slogan. We challenged both the students and adults of the team to come up with several slogans. The “Future Focused. Student Drive.” was arrived at through consensus among the students.
What about the fonts used? The fonts used in the logo and for headings/titles is “Raleway.” The paragraph text font is “Spinnaker.” The fonts were selected based on that they’re not commonly used, but are Google fonts available for both web and print. The fonts have a hint of quirkiness, but are still legible. The students of the web team made the font selections. The font used for the team name in the logo was updated in late 2017 with consensus of the team to “Fascinate Inline” to better reflect the art deco styles of the 1920’s.
The marketing strategy has been successful. The team grew by approximately 50% for the 2016 - 2017 season, and grew again for the 2017 - 2018 season. About a third of students currently come from outside of Batavia High School.
Where do you build robots?
Up until 2017, the team had primarily used the shop within Batavia High School as a build space. (The team did use some vacant warehouse space a couple of years when the school was in the process of being remodeled.) The high school shop provided a good space for build activities and had a class area which could be used for meetings. The photo below shows students working in the school shop in June 2016 getting the robot ready for an off-season competition during that summer.
However, a limitation with using the shop was that the team couldn’t store its tools, equipment, robots, etc. in the shop as it was typically used for classes during the day. For a period of several years after the school remodel had been completed, the team was able to store tools and equipment in a storage area under the Batavia Fine Arts Center (BFAC) seating. Consequently, the team spent about first 15 minutes of every meeting shuttling tools and equipment from the BFAC and then another 15 minutes getting stuff put back. The process was especially interesting when the BFAC had a show and the team had to transit the lobby area. The photo below shows one such equipment procession during the 2016 build season. There’s a reason why the team equipment has wheels.
For the 2016 - 2017 season, the school reclaimed the storage space under the BFAC seating, but arranged for additional space off of the main hallway - at the other end of the building. The 15 minute process became something closer to a half-hour. For the 2017 main competition season, the team was able to build out of a vacant retail space (a former Walgreen’s) in downtown Batavia. The arrangement was great as the team had its own space (no equipment processions!) plus there were adult and student friendly eateries (Panera and McDonald’s) nearby. In the photo below, students are putting finishing touches on the robot before it gets bagged for competition.
Starting with the 2017 - 2018 season, we no longer had access to the shop during the school year as their the school’s revamped vocational program took up most of the space within the shop. (There were rumors that they were building a house in there.) Fortuitously, the team was put in touch with a makerspace that wanted to not only sponsor a robotics team, but host it as well. Hence...
2017 - The Move to Make-It-Here
During the fall of 2017, the team shifted build operations to Make-It-Here, an industrial grade makerspace located in Downers Grove. With the move, the team not only gained access to space which it could use, but also industrial grade equipment. The move provided a substantial upgrade in robot manufacturing capability. Key equipment available included a plasma cutter, manual and numerically controlled mills, a 3D printer, metal lathes, in addition to the usual drill press and band saws.