Ferradermis, the second year WHS FIRST Robotics Team, qualified for the FIRST Championship in Detroit at this weekend’s Wisconsin Regional.

Article by Laura Masbruch

Team 6574, Ferradermis, a second year FIRST Robotics Team from Whitewater High School, qualified for the FIRST Championship in Detroit at this weekend’s Wisconsin Regional in Milwaukee. There are extensive hurdles that any team must pass to qualify for the Championship, much less a second-year team. Those challenges could not be overcome without other FIRST teams demonstrating the best the organization has to offer.

Ferradermis was founded in 2017 when then Whitewater High School seniors Justin Brantmeier and Roberto Soto, along with teacher Laura Masbruch reached out to other local teams for help. Their first contact was Team 3692, the Rock N’ Robotics club based at Janesville Parker. The Janesville mentors helped the trio navigate into the world of FIRST, and a connection with the Whitewater Makerspace helped make the reality of a team seem possible. Team 1306, Badger BOTS, based in Middleton, led by President and 2017 Dean’s List winner Grace Fanson, immediately jumped in to help. 1306 provided extensive background help and tips on forming and administering a team, as well as advice on how the competition worked. 1306 additionally lent a full drive train for 6574 to use to familiarize the new competitors with the base of a robot to help develop controls and electronics and programming knowledge, as well as scouting support and replacement parts at the 2017 Seven Rivers Regional in LaCrosse.

But help for the new competitor was also provided by other FIRST teams. Two of 6574’s lead mentors are alumni of Team 1259, Paradigm Shift, of Pewaukee. In a fortuitous bit of foreshadowing, at the 2018 Wisconsin Regional this past Friday, 6574 experienced reliability issues across multiple components of their robot, leading to a number of match losses due to the robot shutting down. Numerous teams at the event jumped in to help, lending hands, materials, and parts to get the robot working. Team 2202, BEAST Robotics, of Brookfield, lent a broken 12V pneumatic solenoid to the team that functioned flawlessly after a quick repair. Team 1259, over all three days of the regional, worked to ensure 6574’s continued progress, sending their own students, tools, and components including a replacement gearbox component for the intake mechanism. 1259 mentor Dale Noll, and his son, Ben Noll, provided a combination of electrical and mechanical expertise and support in order to ensure the robot performed at its best. Team 2574, RoboHuskies, of Saint Anthony, Minnesota, lent mechanical hardware and tools on the first day to ensure the team was able to fully integrate newly made parts intended to upgrade the robot. After the team noticed a stripped screw terminal on a motor controller, Team 3418, RoboRiot of Sheboygan County, jumped to offer two spare motor controllers in order to ensure 6574’s conveyor system would function through the eliminations.

All of this help from other teams contributed to 6574’s strong bounce back on day two. The team’s drivers were now able to fill up the vault entirely by themselves with time to spare, cleanly winning all three Saturday qualification matches with the support of their alliance members, as well as a match replay of their last match. Knowing the troubles 6574 suffered on Day 1, and confident in the repairs the new team made to their bot, 1259, the top seed at the Wisconsin Regional, invited 6574 to join their alliance with 2481, Roboteers, of Tremont, Illinois, for the playoff round. That alliance swept through the playoff rounds to claim the Wisconsin Regional, undefeated.

The help of other teams, however, did not end there. Post-match photos courtesy of 1259 were taken and circulated. Team 537, Charger Robotics, out of Sussex, immediately offered their help in preparing a shipping box for 6574 to send their robot to the Championship. So, 6574 Ferradermis goes to the Championship—-but takes parts of many other teams with them, courtesy of the guiding principle of FIRST: Gracious Professionalism in action.

Ferradermis would like to thank the Whitewater community as well for their endless support. The welcome home on Saturday night courtesy of the Whitewater Fire Department was nothing short of fantastic. The department provided team members with a phenomenal cap to a phenomenal day. The Whitewater Unified School District’s support of the young team is also impressive with an immediate assurance that the trip to Detroit would be possible. Ferradermis also thanks our numerous community sponsors without whom none of this would have been possible: Generac, Whitewater Manufacturing, HSI Rentals, anonymous community members, the Kiwanis Breakfast Club, LS Power, First Citizens State Bank, Basin Precision Machining, Hudapack, The Knights of Columbus, and the Salverson Family. Funding from these local sponsors in addition to grants from Pentair, the Argosy Foundation, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction have provided a solid funding foundation for the team.

If you would like to learn more about the team, visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/ferradermis or on the Web at ferradermis.org. The team is always looking for additional adult mentors to help advise on CAD, electronics, or mechanical work. If you are interested in helping sponsor the team or sharing your expertise as a mentor, please contact Laura Masbruch at lmasbruch@wwusd.org. To learn more about FIRST or this year’s competition, visit firstinspires.org/robotics/frc. The team is open to all Whitewater High School students at the start of each school year. Go, Ferradermis!