Future in Robotics

We (well, more specifically, I) started working odometry the summer between Nothing but Net and Starstruck (not actually knowing the term odometry hence why all our old stuff refers to it as position tracking and why we didn’t use one of the many implementations that came before us). Soon after that, @nickmertin joined and started helping me with it and we had an xdrive based implementation ready for the first competition, and a tank drive version ready for worlds.

Once I graduated at the end of starstruck, Nick took over the project and further refined it (rewriting most of the movement algorithms) into what you saw at ITZ worlds. However, throughout that year, Nick worked with at least two other members of the team so they could learn to program and take over when he graduated.

My point is, while you can get away with a single programmer, multiple people collaborating allows for discussion about how to do things and multiple different opinions which will inevitably leave you off with a better end result. You also always want to make sure to have someone to take the place of any graduating members (this goes for all roles on a team) if you want your team to continue to exist into the future.


I like Vex Robotics because it was an easy way to get into Fusion 360, and now I know my way around the software (albeit very slowly) and have done many projects just to fix up our house. It also got me into 3D printing, and that has been a lot of fun as well. It also has taught be problem solving skills, structural design skills, basic programming skills, time management and much more. Thank you Vex for teaching me about all of this stuff, and I look forward to getting better in the future.

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I’ve been doing robotics VEX/FRC since 2006, I have a stack of roboteers that have gotten full rides (tuition, room, board, books, pizza money, etc). A stack more that have engineering jobs and a few robot grand roboteers.

I get this all the time, is this really worth the effort and the answer is yes, it is. I’ve worked with too many roboteers to really count and most of them have gone off to be successful.

I have lots of stories, let me tell you one. In the early days we worked out of the “district detention center” a full time school for all the students on probation/detention, etc.

I’m setting up and this girl and teacher walk by as I’m setting up.

Girl: Whatcha doing here?
Foster: We are building robots?
Girl: Real robots? They do things?
Teacher: Shaking her head no
Foster: Yep, we build them and teach them to play a game?
Girl: Cool, can I build a robot?
Teacher: Shaking her head no
Foster: I don’t know, do you know your right from your left, can you button a shirt?
Teacher: Shaking her head no
Girl: Yes, I can
Foster: Can you stay after school? Can you get home afterwards?
Teacher: Shaking her head no
Girl: Yes, my auntie will walk me home.
Teacher: Shaking her head no
Foster: Ok, see you tomorrow after school
Teacher: Shaking her head no
Girl: Ok, see you!!
Teacher: Shaking her head no

She comes, she builds, she works well with a team, and actually graduates out of the detention center, graduates from HS. She was inches from being suspended out forever.

I lost track of her, and one day get a card, she is a nurse and is doing well and here is a new baby.

You STEM roboteers are easy, you are all set up for success. I’m after the kids that being a roboteer makes a difference. You are reading this you are fine, you are on the track for success. But since you are reading this, do us all a favor.

Grab that kid in your school that you think would be interested in robotics. Bring them into your team. Lift someone up, this isn’t about you being a winner, this is about all of us getting better.


So as I’m currently going through college and learning about many of these robotics systems used in industry, I am finding that they are very similar, and the principles are easily translated.


Wow, this was deep. :eyes:


You’re so cool, Foster. I mean that without a shred of sarcasm.

This really spoke to me. If it weren’t for my best friend dragging me to the first meeting, I would probably just be some boring kid with no hobby and no talent. Robotics really taught me about dedication and hard work which will always remain with me.


Thanks for the nice words. I do Robotics, I’m a Harbor host for AGLCA boaters, ham radio “Elmer”, I get asked, how can I pay you back? Only one answer, only one way. Pay it forward. Invest in the next roboteer or better in the next few roboteers. Reach down, pull up. It’s a very cool thing and you can do it forever.

There is a set of posts in the last few days from @ManicMechanic, asking for help. They were a super help to me, and here they are looking for new ways to continue paying it forward.

Good luck in your lifting…


I’m grateful for my friend who told me about VEX robotics and made me try my hand at it. A long time ago, I had dreamed about being engaged in space exploration. I’m interested in lunar surface exploration, and as you may know, robots are widely used for this purpose. I’ll continue improving my skills and my knowledge to implement my dream into reality.