Mechanical Engineering
The Mechanical Engineering's main tasks are to design and build the mechanical systems on the robot.  Immediately after the Kickoff the entire team reviews the rules and brainstorms concepts.  We draw out ideas on a whiteboard or sketch pads. Pro & cons are discussed and the team focuses on a specific strategy.  Then the actual design of the various sub-systems begins.  This could be done using 3D CAD or simple sketches on graph paper. The Mechanical Engineering team must work closely with the Electrical Engineering team because so many components (motors, pneumatics, etc.) are related to both groups.

As with all engineering projects we have specific constraints to deal with.  One obvious constraint is time: 6 weeks of evenings & weekends to brainstorm ideas then design, fabricate parts, assemble, test and redesign. Another set of constraints is size and weight. Our robot must fit within a 28" x 42" x 78" tall envelope, but can "grow" after a match starts. It cannot weigh more than 120 pounds". There are specific components and materials we're allowed to use and we must stay under a $4,000 budget.

Our robot parts can come from 3 sources: the furnished "Kit of Parts" (KOP), purchased off-the-shelf components and custom fabricated components. The KOP comes with a lot of neat goodies; DC motors, pneumatic valves & cylinders, gears, wheels, etc. Custom component can be fabricated from various materials, but they must be light and strong. We have a machine shop at Bosch, and one of our sponsors, E-MC4I, has made CNC waterjet-cut parts for us.

Assembly & Debugging
The real fun begins when the parts are assembled.  Students learn how to use various tools and what to do if things don't fit perfectly (they rarely do). We're trying to package a lot of "stuff" into our robot and making it all fit with easy access to key components (battery, pneumatic dump valve, etc.) is important.  When the subsystems are built they must be tested. Then changes are made based on the tests (or the mess is thrown out and we start over).  After a lot of blood, sweat & tears we (hopefully) end up with a competitive robot!

Shop Safety Guidelines

  • Eye protection is a must...ALWAYS wear safety glasses
  • Jewelry is dangerous in the machine shop...No rings, bracelets or dangling jewelry
  • Long hair must be confined either under a hat or secured behind behind the head
  • Loose clothing can get caught in rotating equipment, Dress appropriately
  • Do not wear open toed . open healed or high healed shoes on the shop floor
  • Do not hurt your back...Do not lift heavy material--GET ASSISTANCE
  • Pay attention! You cannot pay attention to your surroundings if you are listening to your Ipod or texting
  • Before operating any equipment, be aware of all safety considerations
    • Pinch points
    • Guards in place
    • Personal Protective equipment needed
  • Horseplay is a major distraction...Please no horseplay in the shop

Thank you and be safe!