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LEGO Challenge Spotlight: Mini FRC Robot by LadyCans

When we rolled out the 30-Day LEGO Challenge in April, we knew we would see the creativity that robotics teams from all across the state would come up with for the daily challenge. With challenges like “Build a treehouse or build a pirate ship or build a new truck for Toyota” we were sure this challenge would be fun and engaging. And it was! However, what we didn’t expect was for a robotics team to take on the challenge of building a LEGO version of their competition robot so literal.

Meet Ashlyn from FIRST Robotics Competition team 2881 The LadyCans out of Austin, Texas. She not only built a replica of her team’s competition robot out of LEGO bricks, she used the LEGO MIndstorm to build a working model which shoots and climbs much like it’s much larger counterpart. With such an impressive undertaking we wanted to find out more about the inspiration and engineering behind the mini-bot build . We sent Ashlyn a few questions and below are her answers as well as a video of the LEGO mini-bot showing impressive FRC-esque skills.

Photos courtesy of FRC 2881 Ladycans Instagram
Photos of Ashlyn and the LEGO Mini Robot courtesy of FRC Team 2881 LadyCans Instagram

1. How long have you been in robotics?

I started coming to FRC events in 2013. In 2014 I helped start an FLL team at my school before joining FRC 2881 the Lady Cans in 2018.

2. How did you become involved in FIRST?

In 2013 my dad asked me if I wanted to go to a robotics event, telling me that we didn’t have to stay all day if I didn’t want to. To say the least, we got there early in the morning and I immediately loved it and we stayed the whole day. Later, I ended up helping start an FLL team at my school in the fall of 2014 that I was a part of for three years before joining the Lady Cans.

3. What is your favorite team role?

I have been on drive team since my sophomore year which has been so much fun. It was a dream come true to be a driver of our robot at champs in 2019. I have made so many great memories and friends from it.

4. What was the inspiration behind building your Mindstorm mini FRC robot?

A few years ago for FIRST STEAMWORKS, I built a similar style mini FRC robot but on a much smaller scale. When the 30 day LEGO Challenge was posted and day 30 was “Create a LEGO version of your 2019-2020 FIRST RISE Game Challenge Robot” it only felt fitting for me to do another mini FRC robot.

5. How long did it take you to build?

I have been working on it off and on since the beginning of April in the spare time I’ve had.

6. What was the most challenging part?

As someone who has been doing FRC three years then suddenly trying to build a LEGO robot, I definitely some of the constraints I had to build with. It was in the little things like trying to get the right amount of tension and speed on the flywheel for shooting and I could only adjust by set amounts rather than being able to choose the amount of compression on the ball and then make a part that satisfied that. I came up with some creative solutions to get shapes or dimensions that didn’t exist by using cardboard seen in the arc for the shooter and using a gear ratio of 1:25 to get the flywheel spinning fast enough.

7. What are your future plans utilizing what you have learned?

Being within FIRST has taught me a lot about creative problem-solving in many situations. Whether I am volunteering, working on the robot, or doing a fun side project like the mini FRC robot, I end up using quite a bit of problem-solving.

8. What has being involved in robotics meant to you or done for you?

I was super shy before and this helped me find the confidence to go outside of my comfort zone more. I have made some of the best friendships within FIRST, whether it is teammates, mentors, people on other teams, volunteers, or alumni. I now have this amazing community around me that are so supportive and encouraging to me and are some of the sweetest people ever. I always look forward to going to events, whether I am volunteering or competing because I get to see everyone.

See the mini-bot in action on the LadyCans FRC 2881 Instagram: