Robotics Open House Sat., February 22

Whitewater High School’s Robotics Team Ferradermis will be hosting their second annual open house on February 22, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Whitewater High School. Visitors should use Door #38 (behind the auditorium) to enter and enjoy what the open house has to offer. This event is open to community members, sponsors, potential sponsors, and parents. In addition to learning about Ferradermis, this year you can learn about the LEGO League Robotics Teams that formed in the district at the elementary and middle school levels.

Ferradermis will be demonstrating what a normal workday will look like along with showing what we will be doing this year at competitions. This will involve Ferradermis members giving tours of our workspace, a video introduction to this year’s game, CAD models of the robot, and a tour of the practice field. All of this will be going on while we are still getting ready for our first competition.

One of this year’s goals for Ferradermis was to help make improvements to the school shop to benefit both the team and the students enrolled in technology and engineering classes. WHS staff members, school administrators, the district business manager, robotics mentors, and representatives from industry have been meeting monthly to prioritize the equipment needs in the shop and develop a long term plan for upgrading the equipment.

The school district began by purchasing a used Comet Mill with a digital readout to replace a mill that was no longer repairable. The team has already made great use of it when manufacturing the drive base for the 2020 robot. Sophomore Andrew Rollette has become the resident expert on the machine for the team and commented, “the mill has completely changed the way we make our robot. We can make good parts, and we are learning how real parts are machined.”

Troy Clauer, a volunteer mentor with the team and a maintenance engineer for Whitewater Manufacturing, has been pouring his heart and soul into making repairs to the South Bend lathes which were purchased used by the school in 1965. Two of the three lathes are usable but are definitely showing their age, and it is likely that a new lathe will be high on the list of priorities for equipment upgrades. The repairs Clauer has made to the lathes have allowed the team to make spacers and flywheels for the 2020 robot’s shooter mechanism.

Meyer Contracting donated a chop saw for cutting aluminum to the team earlier this fall, and members of the mechanical/build team have been heard to comment that cuts that used to take 10 minutes now only take 30 seconds and are much more accurate as well. This saw, along with the rivet gun, battery operated soldering iron, and other tools donated last spring by Milwaukee Tool, have dramatically increased the speed with which the team can build.

The team has just started making use of the CNC router that had been purchased for the shop in the last few years with the help of community funding. The router has already been used to cut wood, polycarb, and aluminum for this year’s robot.

Most recently, Schenck Process and Whitewater Manufacturing joined forces to purchase a TIG welder that the team can use to weld aluminum. With training from robotics mentor and welder Rob Prager, team members will be able to weld parts of the robot to make it lighter and stronger and allow for more complex designs.

STEM is a growing part of this community, and the robotics teams in the district can’t wait to show you what we have accomplished so far. Come see us in action on February 22!

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