MaizeRunner Member Experience

This past season of MRDC has been an experience like no other. It gave me experience and knowledge in robotics and Engineering that I know I will be able to use in the future and gave me contacts that have helped me through my first year of college.

Before college, I had competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge for 4 years and had briefly competed in the FIRST Robotics Challenge. Although I was an integral part of a team that competed at Worlds for 3 out of my 4 years and placed 3rd in the 2016 World Championship, I had not mastered many integral skills to succeeding in my major, Mechanical Engineering, and in life. IRobotics gave me crucial exposure to manufacturing and machining, alongside the importance of understanding the specifications and limitations of components. In FTC, our team subsisted entirely off of kit components and 3-D printed parts, but entering a competition like MRDC, with a significantly wider range of components and design styles, taught me how to CAD fully custom assemblies and manufacture them.

One of my key milestones was designing the rails for our robot’s drivetrain to be machined out of 2×1 Aluminum tubes, and these tubes were machined by our team for use in this year’s competition. Unfortunately, we were not able to compete due to the COVID-19 situation, but we look forward to potentially using them for the next year, either on the competition robot or for driver/programmer practice.

Although the hands-on skills the club gave me were valuable, they were equally matched by the outside opportunities I received. Through IRobotics, I expressed an interest in acquiring a part-time internship for my Spring Semester of College, and I was quickly put in contact with a group of IRobotics Alumni working at a startup in Research Park who were able to provide me with an internship opportunity for both the Spring and Summer. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation this was cut short, but I still gained valuable experience and knowledge from my time with their company.

Our season was cut short as school was transitioned online and students were sent home, but I still have high hopes for our team next year and am confident that we will hit the ground running as we prepare for and compete in next years challenge for MRDC. I look forward to training to become Machine Shop Certified and develop my designing and machining skills next year as a part of the team.