East Grand Rapids Robotics Pre-Season Newsletter

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  2016 season       vs.    2017 season


Team #5980 FIRST Robotics Competition Pre-Season News

September — December 2016


Doughnut & Cider Sale 

   On November 17 Robotics team members sold doughnuts and cider in the main lobby of the high school before school and during both lunch hours. Both the donuts and the cider cost just one dollar. This fundraiser raised a total of eighty-two dollars for the Robotics team. Clara Luce, Ella Ludwig, and Emily Bulkowski sold the treats before school, Lauren and Jacob Vanden Bosch and Nathan Strodtbeck sold during fourth hour lunch, and Danielle DeRoseau and Peter Adams sold during fifth hour lunch. The team is planning more fundraisers in the future such as a pop can drive that will take place sometime in the new year in January. FullSizeRender.jpg

Jacob Vanden Bosch, ‘20, selling donuts and apple cider during fourth hour lunch in the main lobby of the school.

team 5473 Spitfire, has recently helped us organize our team Business plan. This document outlines the Team Mission Statement, the team’s history and how it was founded, how the team is organized, relationships with team members and sponsors, how we use our resources to help spread awareness of FIRST with our community, the team’s future plans, how we are doing financially,  and an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the team. The whole team contributed to this document; small groups of two or three worked on each section and edited each other’s work. This proved beneficial because it allowed each team member to clearly see not only what we as a team were doing well, but also what we were doing poorly or not at all. Working on the Business plan opened up our eyes to the many things that we can do to become a better team, such as participate in more community outreach, become more active on social media platforms, and educate younger students about FIRST.


James Strodtbeck, team mentor, teaching team members Nathan, Peter, and Chase during Tribal Technology on December 6th.


Tribal Technologies

Mr. Strodtbeck invented and led a new segment of the Robotics team this year that he nicknamed “Tribal Tech.” He explained this as being a way for less mechanically-inclined individuals on the Robotics team to from Julius Herring, Mr. Krupansky, and Nathan Strodtbeck, Mentor Sam recorded Madrigal and team member Chris Bruinsma singing it. Sam then created the animation on November 30th and submitted it to FIRST on the due date, December 1.

Goal-Kicking Robot

In order to give the pre-season a bit more direction and purpose, Mentor James Ludwig came up with the

challenge of a robot who could kick a field goal at the last football game of the season. This was thought to be a good way to bring attention to our team and allow members of the community to see robots in action. However, despite the hard work of the different groups -- elastic launcher, flywheel, and pneumatics -- the idea did not end up proving feasible and there was not enough time to accomplish that goal.

Project Plan


(From left to right:) Ethan Williams ‘17, Chris Bruinsma ‘19, and Robert Grooters modify and improve the project plan during one of the December preseason meetings.

Team mentor Robert Grooters from Steelcase helped us set up a project plan using a smartsheet to organize what we accomplish and also what still needs to be done. They continually updated the spreadsheet and shared it periodically with the rest of the team via the Facebook page. This was especially helpful moving forward into build season where deadlines are strict and a clear plan of action is needed

for the robot to be completed on time.

received our bags and thanking us for supporting them. It is now displayed on the wall inside the Robotics room.


Middle School Kentwood FTC Qualifier

On December 10th Team 5980 volunteered to help dismantle the field at the FTC Qualifier. We were also there to support our two rookie middle school teams. It’s important to help younger Robotics members not only to fulfill our duty as high school leaders and have fun with them, but also because in a few years they are going to replace us and be the future members of Team 5980.ftc.jpg

(From left to right, back to front): Chase Shorey ‘17, Paul Gross ‘18, Jack Lang ‘20, Clara Luce ‘18, Chris Bruinsma ‘19, Emily Bulkowski ‘17, Elizabeth Witting ‘17, Nathan Strodtbeck ‘19, Ella Ludwig ‘17, Carlie Couzens ‘18, Danielle DeRoseau ‘19, Peter Adams ‘19, Otis Dills ‘20, & Anton Ludwig ‘19.   


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The Zeeland Stronghold FRC competition took place at Zeeland High West school on Saturday October 29. On the Friday before the competition parents and students loaded the robot in a trailer to    

Hot Coco & Cupcake Sale


(From left to right) Jacob Vanden Bosch ‘20, Lauren Vanden Bosch ‘19, and Sarah Thong ‘16.

A hot chocolate and peppermint cupcakes sale took place on Friday December 16 during lunch and before school. Anton Ludwig and Chris Brunsma volunteered before lunch, Sarah Thong and Lauren and Jacob Vanden Bosch during 4th hour lunch, and Danielle DeRoseau and Peter Adams during 5th hour lunch. Altogether over a hundred dollars were made from this sale. The cupcakes were made at team mentor & founder

learn the basics of building, the names and uses of certain nuts and bolts, how to operate machinery such as drills safely, and how to assemble and disassemble projects. This is also a way for more advanced students to gain needed expertise for the upcoming season. So far in Tribal team members have made little aluminum figurines formed by attaching an aluminum pole to an aluminum base. This project required team members to measure, cut, drill, and sand. Tribal has been very successful with twelve students completing these projects, which are pictured below.


Examples of the aluminum figures that team members have created during Tribal sessions in the past three months.

Coding with David Austin

 David Austin of the Trisonics Team 4003 of Allendale Michigan has helped us after school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:00 to 4:30 the months of September to December on rebuilding the robot code from last year to learn how to program basic autonomous movements and the visual code in the robot.  We started out with simpler movements such as making the robot move forward for ten consecutive seconds and used PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) to make the robot move in a straight line instead of a slight curve. We then wrestled with more advanced topics such as allowing the robot to fixate on a single target. This required the use of

Our project management team, consisting of Mr. Grooters, Chris Bruinsma, and Ethan Williams, did a nice job simplifying the complex build season spreadsheet so it would be easily understood by all in the days leading up to kickoff.


Return of Dr. Neubig

The team was glad to have head coach/mentor and team founder Dr. Neubig return on December 6 from her lengthy travels out west. Mentors Strodtbeck and Ludwig stepped in as head mentors during much of the preseason, but Mentor Neubig’s absence was clearly felt. Her important role in seeing to the logistical side of things (such as making sure we’re all signed up with FIRST, sending out emails to keep us all informed, making sure we get enough sponsors, and providing us with lots and LOTS of food) means that Team 5980 could not survive without her. We are also grateful for all the other wonderful pre-season mentors: Tom Cook (for fixing the team logo for the upteenth time), Nick & Julia Krupansky (for providing us with our mascot and team baby), Sam Posant (for his help with coding), James Strodtbeck and Ludwig (they go without saying), Robert Grooters (for help setting up a project plan to guide us), David Price (for help with the Business Plan), Trish Williams (for help with fundraising), Erica Vandenberg (for help with all things Business), and the countless others we can not even begin to list -- thank you.


Robinette’s Trip

On November 12 Team 5980 went to Robinette’s Apple Haus to get donuts and cider and hang out. This social excursion was a good way for the

transport it to Zeeland. The opening

ceremonies started at 7:45 a.m. Team 5980 won and lost a several games before making it to the playoffs, but lost in the first playoff game and left immediately afterwards. Despite this disappointment, the team still showed their gracious professionalism by giving another team an award. However, the team also noted that perhaps they could show their gracious professionalism even better by not leaving immediately after they were disqualified from the competition but instead stay to cheer on other teams and help with cleanup and taking down the field.


The award that was given by Team 5980 to Team 85 at the Zeeland FRC competition. 


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October 1st was the first competition of the pre-season. This Stronghold competition required an all-female drive team. Team 5980’s girls prepared by setting up obstacle courses in the band room to practice maneuvering the robot and shooting goals. Our drive team for the competition included Ella Ludwig, Emily Bulkowski, Danielle DeRoseau, Clara Luce, and Sarah Thong. During the competition the girls learned how to pit the robot very efficiently and to work in an alliance with another team. The girls, due to  

Dr. Neubig’s home the day before the sale with team members Ella Ludwig, Elizabeth Witting, and Clara Luce. The students and faculty enjoyed the cupcakes and hot chocolate, knowing that along with tasty treats they were also supporting their school’s robotics team.

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The flier shown in the bottom right was made and put up around the school by Ella Ludwig ‘17 and Clara Luce ‘18 during one of the biweekly team meetings a week before the sale date.


Business Plan

  During the past few months the team has been focused on Business matters as the Build season grows closer and funds are needed for robot parts and competition fees. David Price, former mentor of the West Michigan Aviation Academy’s FRC

HSV, or Hue, Saturation, and Value. By setting a certain range for the Saturation and Hue and by coding a specified area for the target we were able to make the vision code create a single particle, which the robot could identify and then move towards. Our very last meeting in 2016 we were able to write the code for the robot to grab and release the ball, allowing the robot to identify a target, move towards it, and then shoot a goal, which could be useful in the case of an actual FRC competition. In all, it took the robot fifteen seconds to move toward and shoot a goal through the target (a chair) that was around twenty to twenty-five feet away. This is quite an impressive feat and many teams do not manage this level of sophistication. We thank David Austin for his time and dedication in helping to ensure that we will be successful come Build Season.


 Safety Video

It is a requirement of First Robotics to produce a Safety Animation a maximum of forty seconds long. This animation must show different dangers that occur with the sport of Robotics and how to avoid or prevent these dangers while building or interacting with the robot(s). A small group from our team got together and brainstormed different dangers that came up while working with robots. Nick Krupansky, team mentor, came up with the idea of using the tune of “Our Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music and change the lyrics to “The Dangerous Things.” After the lyrics were written by Lauren and Jacob Vanden Bosch with help team to get to know each other better and do something fun together outside of the Robotics room. More team bonding such as a movie night is planned for the future.

Return of Alumni


Six Alumni visited and helped out during Holiday Break!

During Holiday Break the team met twice on Tuesday, welcoming back last year’s Seniors. These Robotics alumni shared their first semester classes and how this team impacted their college experience. The alumni helped current team members with several fun projects such as reconstructing a car phone charger to function with a 9V battery and adding the mecanum wheels to a prototype robot.    


Kid’s Food Basket


During a couple meetings in December several team members decorated paper bags for the local non-profit organization Kids Food Basket, which provides lunches for poor or disadvantaged elementary school students in Grand Rapids and Holland. After handing in the bags, the team received a nice note back from KFB telling us that they had their superior driving and scouting skills and their favorable alliance with Livonia, the Byting Bulldogs and GRPS Central, ended up winning the competition, which was an exciting way to kick off the pre-season.      



During the course of the preseason the team received generous donations from the following local companies:

YoungBlood Automation

East Grand Rapids Academic Boosters

EGR Schools Foundation

Michigan Department of Education

RBK Fasteners Inc.


   Ergoquest (also donated a drill press)

There are different levels of sponsorship with different awards for each. The highest level earns the company’s logo a place on the robot and the lowest level earns the company a mention on the website.

Individual Donors

Private donations from individuals also greatly helped in securing the 30,000 dollars we need for this season:

Brent and Diane Slay

Marjie Neubig

Kim and James Ludwig

Financial help is very appreciated. If you know of someone who might be willing to donate please don’t hesitate to contact us at EGRRobotics5980@ gmail.com or at eneubig@aol.com. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about this newsletter please contact the author via lauren.vb@live.com or vandlau1@egrps.org.

Get to Know

East Grand Rapids Robotics

Team 5980

Name: Julius HerringJulius.jpg

Grade: Sophomore

Pre-season role(s): Scouting/Business

Build-season role: Climb Team



Name: Danielle DeRoseau

Grade: Sophomore

Pre-season role(s): Business/Mechanical

Build-season role: Climb Team


Name: Chris Bruinsma

Grade: Sophomore

Pre-season role(s): Business/Project Plan

Build-season role: Ball Team


Name: Chase Shorey

Grade: Senior

Pre-season role(s): Mechanical

Build-season role:  Climb Team Leader



Name: Ethan Williams

Grade: Junior

Pre-season role(s): Coding/Project Plan

Build-season role: Drive Train


Name: Carlie Couzens

Grade: Junior

Pre-season role(s): Coding/Business

Build-season role: Electrical & Coding


Name: Nathan StrodtbeckNathan.jpg

Grade: Sophomore

Pre-season role(s): Business, Website Maintenance

Build-season role: Gear Team


Name: Anton Ludwiganton.jpg

Grade: Sophomore

Pre-season role(s): Coding, Mechanical

Build-season role: Electrical & Coding Leader


Name: Elizabeth Witting

Grade: Senior

Pre-season role(s): Organization

Build season role: Ball Team



Name: Emily Bulkowski

Grade: Senior

Pre-season role(s):  Drive Team, contributed to website

Build season role: Gear Team Leader

Name: Clara Luceclara.jpg

Grade: Junior

Pre-season role(s): Drive Team, Mechanical

Build-season role: Climb Team



Name: Paul Gross

Grade: Junior

Pre-season role(s): Coding Team

Build-season role: Gear Team



Name: Donny Marwin

Grade: Senior

Pre-season role(s): Mechanical

Build-season role: Drive Train Leader


Name: Ella Ludwigella.jpg

Grade: Senior

Pre-season role(s): Drive Team

Build-season role: Ball Team Leader


Name: Otis Dillsotis.jpg

Grade: Freshman

Pre-season role(s): Mechanical

Build season role: Ball Team



Name: Jacob Vanden Bosch

Grade: Freshman

Pre-season role(s): Mechanical/Coding

Build season role: Gear Team


Name: Lauren Vanden Boschlauren.jpg

Grade: Sophomore

Pre-season role(s): Business, Social Media

Build season role: Electrical & Coding


Name: Sarah ThongSarah.jpg

Grade: Senior

Pre-season role(s): Business

Build season role: Drive Train Team



Name: Peter Adams

Grade: Sophomore

Pre-season role(s): Mechanical

Build season role: Drive Train Team


Name: Jack Lang

Grade: Freshman

Pre-season role(s): Business, Logo

Build season role: Gear Team


*Keep in Touch! @egrrobotics5980 / East Grand Rapids Robotics / egrrobotics.org