Geeks of Menlo

Post image for M-A Robotics Team 766 builds on past success as it begins this year’s competition

Last month,  FIRST Robotics world champions, Bellarmine College Preparatory, invited Menlo-Atherton High School, as well as 30 other robotics teams, to two days of intense competition in San Jose. Approximately 1,000 attendees celebrated the culmination of months of student efforts to design, build, and refine their robot. M-A successfully focused on new driver training and exploring alternative strategies at the competition in readiness for the 2016 season.

FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international robotics organization with several tiers of competition. The FRC designation is the most advanced level. At this year’s event at Bellarmine, there were eight past and current world champions competing.

“We had a chance to show new team members how rigorous a robotics competition is. It takes everything —a year’s worth of work in management, design, and teamwork. It all goes into a two-minute skirmish. It was great,” said junior Skylar MacMillan (pictured above pushing robot), President of Team 766, the FRC team from M-A.

Witnessing the work and investment of other teams allowed Team 766 members to see opportunities for growth and improvement. “It helped us focus on where we are as a team and where we can do better. Losing all the seniors [from last season] was a setback, but I feel that we have a lot of people who can step up to the challenge,” noted Ritwik Kesavath, a senior and Club Treasurer.

Outside of scrimmages, the Robotics team has been hard at work fundraising and expanding their membership. It is a technical challenge to create a fully functioning robot in 6 weeks, but it is an equally daunting to raise the $40,000 needed to maintain a competitive team.

It is made easier with the generous assistance of local sponsors such as Google, Intuitive Surgical, SRI, and the Abbott Fund, but students must still raise over 30% of the yearly budget. The team is making some headway. On August 24th, Skylar MacMillan and this author gave a presentation to the Lions Club of Menlo Park, who generously donated $250 to Team 766.

In addition, an LED light bulb fundraiser is coming to an end, which aggregated over $10,000 for the club in the past year. MacMillan describes the effort as “…the most effective student fundraising movement that M-A Robotics has ever had.”

The team is currently looking for new recruits and encourages prospectivementors to contact them at robotics766@gmail.com.

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If it’s Thursday, it’s Coding Club day for first and second graders at Oak Knoll School

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Stop by Bill Quarre’s second grade classroom during lunch time on Thursdays and you’ll find two dozen or so  girls and boys with headsets on and iPads on their desks. No, they’re not playing video games. Instead, they are learning to program using an app called Kodable. Oak Knoll School Co-Principal Kristen Gracia explains that […]

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Bike+ cycling app developed by two accomplished cyclists to capture the whole ride experience

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Between them, James Mattis and Ted Huang have logged a lot of miles atop a bicycle. James is the 2011 World Amateur Road Race Champion and  2008 US Amateur Road Race Champion. An Olympian in windsurfing, Ted is the former team manager  for the Webcor Pro Cycling Team and former board member of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition […]

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SLAC scientists in Menlo Park take first dip into water’s mysterious “no-man’s land”

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Scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park have made the first structural observations of liquid water at temperatures down to minus 51 degrees Fahrenheit, within an elusive “no-man’s land” where water’s strange properties are super-amplified. The research, made possible by SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser and reported June 18 […]

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Beamline scientist Apurva Mehta reminds us that SLAC is no longer about atom smashing

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Apurva Mehta, a material science physicist, came to SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park 17 years ago “to build a beam line” — one that is still up and running, he points out. “SLAC was the birthplace of synchrotron science in many respects,” he says. “That was certainly key to my decision to come here. All […]

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Efforts to find new space for TechShop Menlo Park outlined by Jim Newton

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Jim Newton of TechShop Menlo Park sent us an email with updates about efforts underway to find a new makerspace: “We have made progress in identifying a couple of spaces that would work well for a permanent facility. Once we narrow down the choices and determine that our qualifications are met, we will let you […]

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TechShop Menlo Park urgently searching for temporary and permanent home

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We received this email from Jim Newton (pictured below), founder and chairman of TechShop, where makers and DIYers gather in Menlo Park: “We are writing to you today with an urgent situation facing TechShop Menlo Park and to ask for your help in meeting this challenge head-on. “At the end of last week, we received […]

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On August 13, Cafe Scientifique looks at past, present and future of clinical trials

“Clinical Trials: Past, Present, and (Hopefully) the Future” is the next Cafe Scientifique topic. It will be presented by Manish Kothari, Ph.D., Director of Health Systems in SRI International’s Robotics Program, on Tuesday, August 13, 2013, from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. Dr. Kothari has worked on all aspects of clinical trials over the past 20 years, from […]

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Trevor Shannon builds a plywooden boat to take out on San Francisco Bay

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Editor’s note: During the Maker Faire earlier this year, Scott R. Kline photographed a number of participants who call Menlo Park their home base. Pictured is Trevor Shannon with his plywooden boat, a DIY wooden vessel for exploring the San Francisco Bay, made of a single sheet of 4mm plywood and sealed with epoxy resin and […]

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SparkTruck hits the road again bringing maker skills to school kids

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Editor’s note: During the Bay Area Maker Faire earlier this year, Scott R. Kline photographed a number of participants who call Menlo Park their home base. Pictured is Eugene Korsunskly, standing in front of enthusiastic post-its from admirers of his SparkTruck, a mobile platform for learning that tours the country teaching “maker” skills. We asked […]

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Alison Wong thrives on designing products that meet real world needs

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Menlo Park resident Alison Wong has been an independent product designer for the past three years. We talked with her in her home studio. She was photographed by Scott Kline sitting on a stool she made from spare bicycle parts. InMenlo: How do you describe what you do? Alison: I’m a product designer and design […]

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