Sunday, March 24, 2013

[ VIDEO ] 2013 First Robotics Competition Sacramento Regional

Bishop-Wisecarver is proud to be a Diamond Supplier this year of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) — we're even more proud of the teams we sponsor. Their hard work is an inspiration to us all, and it's an honor to share their journey's with you.

In this video you will see exclusive coverage shot by the BWC team on Friday, March 22 in Davis, California. You will also meet two team members from the Fembots #692.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Q&A with Northern California FIRST Senior Mentor Teri Benart


Bishop-Wisecarver is proud to be a Diamond Supplier this year of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) — we're even more proud of the teams we sponsor. Their hard work is an inspiration to us all, and it's an honor to share with you their story.

This week, we'd like to feature Northern California FIRST Senior Mentor Teri Benart. Although she is busy participating in regional competitions, Teri took time out to meet with us for a Q&A session. Have questions for her? Leave 'em in our comments section!

Question: Almost anyone involved in FIRST has the opportunity to be a mentor. Sometimes it’s mentors guiding students, students helping students, and students advising mentors—do you have words of wisdom to share with teams who have just joined FIRST this season?

Answer: My advice to students would be to leverage the veteran teams to help you through the FIRST build season. It’s always a challenge to learn how to get this done. Secondly, utilize all of your resources, including the FIRST website, and the Non-Engineering Mentor Organization (NEMO) website as well. Chief Delphi is also a great website, and that is a blogging area where teams discuss their designs and challenges. Chief Delphi is a great site for teams to connect with other teams.

Question: We recognize that FIRST is not just about kids building a robot. What else does this competition mean for you as a mentor? What else does this competition mean for the kids?

Answer: It keeps me open-minded as a mentor and informed as to what kids are thinking these days. I get a lot of satisfaction out of watching kids get it, and when I say “get it”, I mean watching kids be part of a team; it’s just amazing to me.

I have a firsthand experience with my son who is going into mechanical engineering. He is a freshman at the University of Nevada in Reno. One of his closest friends is at University of California Santa Barbara studying mechanical engineering also. I think what’s most interesting is that all the friends he hung out with on his FIRST Robotics team are all studying engineering at different schools—all five of them. My son did FIRST Robotics for all four years.

What happened was that he and one friend (who is now studying engineering at Cal Poly) grabbed their other friends after doing FIRST their freshman year, and maintained a consistent group throughout their sophomore, junior, and senior years as FIRST participants. It was a great experience for me as mom because I was a mentor for the team up until this year.

In the 2009 game, my son asked me to go with him to the kick-off and from that moment on I was hooked. I also am the chairperson for the UC Davis Regional in addition to being the Northern California Senior Mentor. I’m working on doing Junior FLL with my grandson, who is 8 years old. I was just visiting him this weekend, and we were building a Lego robot. I love watching kids get excited about the process of creation.

Also, I've noticed that there are a lot of girls I know who never would've done what they’re doing without going into this program. How many girls grow up dreaming of using power tools? After getting into this activity, many girls end up realizing that they actually enjoy it. It (FIRST) helps them to apply knowledge.

For example, my son up at college needed to build a hovercraft, my son was able to recommend the appropriate material with which to build the hovercraft.

Question: As a FIRST mentor, what have you learned about yourself, particularly in regards to your strengths and weaknesses? (This could be particular technical skills, knowledge, or personal skills).

Answer: What I've learned about my strengths is that I am really a strong planner. I really keep the kids on track from a planning perspective, whether we are talking about financial planning, project planning, or meeting deadlines.

What the kids have taught me the most is to keep an open mind and that anything is possible. They've shown me over and over again that the things I think won’t work will work.

Question: Which aspect(s) of the FIRST Robotics Competition are you most excited about?

Answer: The Chairman’s Awards because it talks about sustainability, longevity, and business continuity for the team. It tells me that these kids are thinking about something other than building a robot.

Question: What is your favorite aspect of being a mentor?

Answer: Probably dancing with the kids and having fun. Watching them be happy and continually grow. I love getting up and dancing with them at Regionals and wearing silly things.

Question: What advice do you have to give to future or other FIRST mentors?

Don’t underestimate the power of the kids because those kids are amazing. They really know how to inspire me. I think they inspire me more than I inspire them.

Question: What do you think the future of FIRST is, and of STEM in general?

Answer: I think that the future of FIRST is a decentralized model where the corporate. FRC will become more like FTC and FLL. FIRST is getting so big.

Regarding STEM in general, I think that there is so much attention on STEM that I think that more and more kids will go into STEM. I think that project-based learning— which is what FIRST teaches— is more of what the public sector will begin to lean towards and evolve into. I don’t think we can continue to pound our kids with information and expect them to learn without any experiential process. My hope is that STEM influences project-based learning in public schools.

Question: Is there anything else about FIRST that you’d like to share?

I think that it’s a great organization. I know they’d like to see it move faster than it has been but let’s think about it—it’s been 22 years and this program is exploding. I think that in the short duration it’s been around that there has been phenomenal growth.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Top Five Tweets of the Week: Robotics Growing in Popularity and the Future of Manufacturing in 3D



Wow! Did the week fly by just as fast for you as it did for us? Well, in case you missed the latest and greatest in news shared on Twitter, here's our top five favorite posts from this week — from robotics making one of the hottest trends in 2013 to a Q&A with one of our very own. Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

1. 3D Printing and the Future of Manufacturing via IndustryWeek: Years back, it took a tremendous amount of capital investment and time to train to become a graphic designer. Within the last decade, however, advances in digital printing and software have made the design trade more ubiquitous and accessible than ever before. Now, a similar shift is occurring within the manufacturing field: "Today, almost anyone can become a manufacturer or contribute to the manufacturing process," explains this infographic.

Credit: Forbes
2. Robotics is One of the Hottest Trends of 2013 via Forbes: Robotics are fast tracking up the ladder of importance in everyday lives. Self-driving cars, robotic surgery and robotic exoskeletons for soldiers are indeed serious stuff. Even toymakers like Lego are moving from the ranks of hobbyists to make a huge difference in people’s lives. Case in point is the partnership between FIRST LEGO League (FLL), Trophy Computers & Robotics, and SAP in South Africa.

3. Q&A with Texas Regional Sales Manager Chris Haltom via BWC: Chris joined the Bishop-Wisecarver team at the beginning of the year, bringing with him a wealth of enthusiasm!

4. Manufacturers Seek to Engage Kids via @JELDWEN on Twitter: Get chalk and draw on this doodle-ready magnetic chalkboard door! Window and door manufacturer Jeldwen explores ways to involve kids in their products, creating functional yet fun products that both adults and their fun-loving families can enjoy!

5. Some Innovation Experts Say that the U.S. is Ahead of China Despite Lost Manufacturing via Washington Monthly: The Manufacturing Institute estimates, for instance, that raw production costs in China skyrocketed 132 percent from 2003 to 2011, including Chinese wages, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than doubled from 2003 to 2008 –from $0.62 an hour to $1.36! Meanwhile, American production costs have fallen.

Meet the St. Francis High Fembots, Team #692: "We Take on a Challenge When We See It"

Bishop-Wisecarver is proud to be a Diamond Supplier this year of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) — we're even more proud of the teams we sponsor. Their hard work is an inspiration to us all, and it's an honor to share with you their story.

This week, we'd like to feature team #692 located in Sacramento, CA at St. Francis High School. This is our first year sponsoring the Fembots, but it's not their first year to battle. This team has many years of participation under their belt, and know all the ins and outs of participating in FRC.


Although they are busy participating in regional competitions, the team's leader Jasmine "Jaz" A. took time out to meet with us for a Q&A session. Have questions for her? Leave 'em in our comments section!

Question: We recognize that FIRST is not just about building a robot. What else does this competition encompass for you, and what are you learning as you prepare for the competition?

Answer: I’ve been on the team for four years and it’s really taught me a lot. I don’t want to go into engineering but I do want to go into psychology. I feel like working with the team has taught me how to work with others and express myself so it’s not just me who understands my ideas. I’ve also learned how to manage and run a group effectively. FIRST is a great experience, provides problem-solving and conflict management, and is not merely about technical issues — it’s a lot about compromise.

I feel like (these experiences have) really prepared me for a job out in the real world.

Question: What do you think your team is best at? Do you think that you and the other team members have discovered new interests and talents through FIRST thus far, and if so, what are they?

Answer: I think as far as my team goes, we’re best at problem-solving. We might not have the best robot when we show up to the competition but we know how to take on a challenge when we see it.

We’ve definitely fostered new talents and interests through FIRST. Some joined the team not knowing what they want to do as far as career choices, and (FIRST) goes beyond engineering. Like I said, I want to go into psychology and it’s really because of this team. I love managing personalities and seeing how people interact within groups.

Don’t get me wrong: there are definitely girls on the team that want to go into engineering. Some want to be electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, and some even want to be chemical engineers. We have a wide range of skill sets and career preferences among our team members.

I’ve tried everything on the team: build, programming, artistic stuff, but I love the management type of work the most.

Our sub teams work on a variety of efforts. For example, my team has an art sub team, so we have a group of people who focus on team promotion and things like graphic design. If they want to become graphic designers, for example, then members of our team have gained valuable experience to go into that field.

There is really something for everyone in FIRST.

Question: Which aspect(s) of the FIRST Robotics Competition is your team most excited about and why?

Answer: My team is really social. We’re also an all girls team, so that might have something to do with it. We love going around to the different teams and meeting new people, and being introduced to new ideas. We are great at socializing and talking to other teams. We are great at making ourselves known. The actual competition is exciting, as we love to introduce ourselves and network.

FIRST is a great place to meet wonderful people, and for the right reasons, too.

Question: FIRST provides many opportunities to enhance and engage different skill sets. What skills are your team members building?

Answer: Socializing, for sure, and working together as a group. Time management is a really big skill that runs throughout all our sub teams. No matter what you’re working on, you have deadlines to meet. Our school is very academically rigorous so a lot of the time management aspect (that I refer to) pertains to balancing FIRST along with the heavy workload from classes. I feel like our time management goes beyond just the team, and involves management of this project along with not only homework, but also jobs, and other extracurricular activities.

Question: Almost anyone involved in FIRST has the opportunity to be a mentor. Sometimes it’s mentors guiding students, students helping students, and students advising mentors — do you have words of wisdom to share with teams who have just joined FIRST this season?

Answer: With respect to mentors, they have a lot to teach you, but know that with mentors it’s more of a discussion. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make it a conversation. Sometimes team members get intimidated by the mentors. It’s like an interactive process, not just asking the mentor for guidance and advice, but engaging them in your project.

Question: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Answer: FIRST is definitely life changing. It can lead you to places you never thought you’d be. It’s a great starting point.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meet Bishop-Wisecarver's Newest Regional Sales Manager Chris Haltom

Chris joined the Bishop-Wisecarver team at the beginning of the year, bringing with him a wealth of enthusiasm! If you're located in the Southwest region, email him at chrish@bwc.com to learn more about how we work with manufacturers to engineer, manufacture, and build linear and rotary motion solutions, custom complex assemblies, and optimal embedded intelligence systems. Welcome to the team, Chris!

Question: Tell us about your background and your education.
Answer: I went to Texas A&M University and earned a B.S. in industrial distribution. I’ve worked in the power transmission industry since 1995 and my most recent experience was at THK for over five years.

Question: What do you like about sales?
Answer: I really like the problem-solving aspect. I like being able to help the customer find a solution to the issue they’re working on.

Question: What do you enjoy most about working with engineers?
Answer: I appreciate the fact that they’re so conceptually focused, and that they’re looking for the best solution to the problem.

Question: What challenges arise from selling a product based on features and benefits?
Answer: Sometimes the features and benefits don’t match the customers’ needs. Features and benefits at times will not directly address a problem or issue.

Question: What makes for a good selling relationship with a customer?
Answer: Understanding exactly what is important to that customer.

Question: If sales were a team sport, what would it be and why?
Answer: I would have to say soccer. I used to play soccer, and the reason it’s like soccer is because if everyone does not work together then you cannot achieve the end result.

Question: Speaking of sports, what’s your favorite team or teams?
Answer: For basketball, the Dallas Mavericks; for hockey, the Dallas Stars. For football, I like Texas A&M, and for soccer, I follow FC Dallas, a professional team.

Question: What do you like to do outside work?
Answer: I have six kids, so taking care of them takes up most of my time. They range in ages from 6 to 18. I also love to cook. I make mostly Mexican food, Italian food, barbeque, and I'm a decent baker, too.

Question: What’s your favorite coffee beverage? Cream, no cream, sugar, no sugar?
Answer: Black.

Question: Favorite quote?
Answer: “Living the dream.” I don’t remember who said that, but I picked that up from a former coworker. That describes my life right now.