Fifteen New Members Complete Ferradermis Boot Camp

Ferradermis, Whitewater High School’s FIRST Robotics Team #6574, wrapped up a busy summer by hosting their second annual Boot Camp for new members from August 3 through August 10, 2019. Twelve veteran team members and nine of their adult mentors led fifteen new members through the basics of FIRST Robotics and guided them through designing, prototyping, manufacturing, wiring, and programming a fuel (whiffle ball) shooter capable of playing the official game from the 2017 season. The 2017 Steamworks season was Ferradermis’ rookie year in the competition, but their first robot was not complex enough to play that portion of the game, so this was a new challenge for both the veterans and the rookies. New members included not only incoming freshmen, but also sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have made the commitment to join. Entering their fourth year this year, Ferradermis will be 43 members strong. Additional students are welcome to join the team this fall.

The team began each day of Boot Camp with a team-building activity. Over the course of the week, students completed the reverse cup stacking challenge, the marshmallow challenge, the nail stacking challenge, the balloon launch, and the blind object challenge. Students and mentors also maintained a memory wall to share their best memories of past robotics events and the current week. All of the challenges were designed to promote communication within and between sub-teams and alliances as well as the importance of understanding and interpreting rules.

New members were introduced to FIRST Robotics with a game of Ferradermis Bingo. In order to bingo they had to learn and be able to share information such as the number of teams on an alliance, the colors of the alliance, the Ferradermis team number, the definition of Gracious Professionalism, and the role of a mentor. On day one, new members also rotated through short sessions that served as an introduction to the various sub-teams within Ferradermis: CAD/Mechanical, Electrical/Programming, Competition Logistics, and Business. They were then presented with their challenge for the week.

Throughout the week, veteran and new members worked side by side to complete their challenge, and by the end of the day on the 10th, they were able to successfully test their robot by shooting fuel into a makeshift goal. Although their aim wasn’t perfect, they did achieve their goal of building a functional robot. Boot Camp is meant to model the first week of the six-week build season so that new members have an understanding of how the team will operate once the new season’s challenge is introduced.

The Business team used this week as an opportunity to launch their 2019-2020 fundraising campaign by preparing a mailing for our current and prospective sponsors, developing a campaign at, submitting multiple grant applications, and writing thank you notes. The team operates on a budget of approximately $60,000 per year and is funded through the school district, grants, donations from businesses, individuals, and service organizations, student fundraising, and family contributions. This budget allows the team to build two robots, travel to two regional competitions, compete at the World Championships in Detroit when they’ve qualified, travel to trainings and events hosted by other teams, and compete in multiple off-season events. If you are interested in supporting Ferradermis financially, donations can be made through a link on our web site at or by contacting Laura Masbruch at

Ferradermis will have a busy fall as they are planning to participate in two off-season competitions with their 2019 robot in September. The first will be at the Milwaukee Maker Faire on Saturday, September 14. This event is open to the public. On the weekend of September 28, the team has been invited to travel with Round Table Robotics from Oak Creek High School to IndyRAGE in Indianapolis, a competition where the drive team and the pit crew are to be all female. People attending the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast at the high school on Sunday, September 22, will have the opportunity to discuss the team with our members volunteering at the breakfast. Runners in the Discover Whitewater race will also see team members cheering them on from one of the water stations. The team has multiple presentations scheduled in the coming months including one for school district staff, one for Delta Kappa Gamma, and one at the AAUW Tech Savvy Conference at UW-Whitewater for girls in grades 6-9. If you would like to have the team do a presentation for your business or organization, please email or contact Laura Masbruch at the high school. The team is also working to help start and mentor FIRST LEGO League Teams involving students from all three elementary schools in Whitewater as well as help another area high school launch an FRC Team.

Ferradermis thanks their current mentors who operated the boot camp including Co-Head Coaches Carissa Petzinger, an engineer from Generac, and Dilpreet Randhawa, a member of Wisconsin Robotics at UW-Madison, Allison Conrad and Nick Ackerman, both a part of Wisconsin Robotics, Rob Prager from Wisconsin Ovens, Komboocho entrepreneur Doug Grall, and WHS alumni Andrew Cipriano and Leif Sahyun. Ferradermis is always looking for additional adult mentors. If you have a particular talent such as electronics, programming, engineering, or business that you would be willing to share, or if you are just willing to learn, we’d love to hear from you. Go, Ferradermis!

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