Whether you’re going into mechanical engineering, computer science, design, greengineering or any other kind, a couple things are true: learning with hands-on experimentation is great, and it can be especially enlightening if you don’t have a plan; that’s called exploratory learning. But when it comes to doing—working on a final project, preparing for a competition, or just doing your job—you’ve got to have a plan.
The Dallas High School robotics team, called the CyberDrakes, learned that the hard way in last year’s FTC competition. The team had a last-minute design change which forced them to reprogram their robot. They finished the reprogramming on tournament day, and they wound up not placing or qualifying.
That’s not to say that had no plan last year, but it’s always best to expect the unexpected. And the CyberDrakes didn’t let this setback stop them from competing this year. And this year, they’ve got a plan and a schedule. Here’s the competition they’ve been planning for, from a local news article:
The 2012 FTC tournament “Bowled Over” has two teams forming an alliance to outscore their opponents. Teams were given competition rules and requirements and robot kits at the beginning of the year. They were set free to design a robot to accomplish specific tasks. This year those include collecting racquet balls, placing them in small plastic crates, and finally stacking the crates to score points — the higher, the better.
Polk County Itemizer-Observer
This competition in particular is for high school, but once you get into college there are competitions for any major, even conservation engineering. OSU is in the middle of the Campus Conservation Nationals, a competition where colleges around the country come up with plans to save as many resources as they can. These conservation plans are executed by the whole campus, but are probably designed by the sustainable engineering department.
So learn from these guys. When you’re working on a project or preparing for a final competition, make sure you’ve got a plan of action. Because a solid plan can survive a few unexpected difficulties.
- Local news article about Dallas HS robotics.
- SustainableBusinessOregon article about Campus Conservation Nationals.