The World of CavBots
October 7, 2021
It is hard to miss the impressive $2.5 million robotics lab that the school was granted four years ago, but how many of us know just how impressive the CP robotics program is? I delved deep into what our school robotics team, the CavBots, stands for and their presence not just in our school but the community and internationally.
CavBots, the young sister team to CISD’s team, Texas Torque, is student-led, running like a small business with about 60 “employees”. Currently, the team is in their off-season preparing for their competition season, starting Jan. 8th. Before then, the team has much to do and learn, but with guidance and direction from their experienced and passionate leads and mentors, there is no doubt that they will excel.
“Personally, I love robotics and have always loved technology so I had no problem coming back to help the team. As a mentor, it is my job to guide them, teaching them what we didn’t get to learn as our time was cut so short our senior year; we didn’t get to teach the underclassmen the things we knew and loved about robotics.” ”
— 2020 graduate and current mentor, Daynmon McClure
The team is actively involved in outreach events and fundraisers to raise $32,000 to afford parts and machinery for the competition. The business team is in charge of applying for grants, where about a third of their funds will come from, the rest coming from local businesses, fundraisers, and sponsorships.
“We are also reaching out to students’ parents who are involved in engineering or some kind of machinery industry,” senior and CavBot President, Tiffany Ozols said. “We are reaching out to those companies like Chevron to demo for them, show them our robot, give them a tour of the lab, just showing them what we are all about so that hopefully in the future we can get a sponsorship from them.”
One of the team’s main focuses for outreach is starting First Lego League (FLL) teams and First Lego League Junior (FLL Junior) teams. These organizations resemble first robotics competitions, but for younger kids. FLL and FLL Junior allow kids to work with lego kits, make robots move, and eventually compete. The CavBots mentor the teams and teach them programming. They are also working closely with Texas Torque to set up some different camps in the coming months as the two teams often practice gracious professionalism, collaborating in their shared lab.
“As far as outreach goes internationally, we have worked with a summer camp in Vietnam for two years, one of our alumni started it. Basically, she went to Vietnam and talked with a local library and got young students who don’t have the same opportunities as we would have and gave them some first lego league kits and just educated them about FIRST and STEM and what we are all about.”
Last year, the team donated 100 frisbees and 50 rubber balls to the Woodlands Young Learners Academy as they were struggling during COVID. CavBots also built 12 touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers for schools threatened by outbreaks. As long as COVID doesn’t flare up again, the team plans to continue these outreach projects with the addition of some new ones, such as expanding their work internationally. Particularly in a small rural town in Mexico where CavBot alumni Ty Lopez and Elizabeth Van started a STEM camp for girls, giving them opportunities they otherwise would not have had.
“There is a lot of sexism and misogyny especially in those smaller rural towns, so we were able to provide that opportunity to learn about STEM,” Ozols said. “We are thinking of starting up some more international projects. There are a couple of teams in China and countries in the Middle East that we would like to extend the offering of supplies and our support.”
Besides these intensive outreach projects, underclassman members learn from their leads and mentors, preparing them for hands-on work and competition. Once the season starts, the team will have six weeks to prepare their robot for the competition. The months leading up to the start date are crucial, especially as the team is still working to establish itself among older world-renowned groups like the Robonots who are sponsored by NASA and have won the world’s multiple times.
“Our robot from 2020 is the same one that we have been working on for two years now, just constantly improving it and making changes. What we have now looks nothing like what you saw in 2020. We have a saying here that if a lead picks up a tool they are doing it wrong. I am just making sure that everyone knows what they are doing and how they are doing it.””
— Senior and vice president of mechanical on CavBots, Ethan Ocker
Mechanical is currently working on the robot cart, which will carry the robot to the competition. Meanwhile, electrical programming is working on a swerve drive, an advanced robot drive that many of their competitors already use. Though each area is working on separate tasks, they all come together to prepare for the highly competitive competition season.
“I am hoping I can leave my team with a little more peace. Because we are a really young team, we are still getting off the ground and building that foundation for how things run and our presence from sponsors and other prestigious teams. There is some disparity with how long other teams have been around, so I want to leave them with a peace of mind that everything will pay off.””