"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." Benjamin Franklin. Team 1114, General Motors of Canada, St. Catharines Powertrain, Governor Simcoe Secondary School "Simbotics," takes pride in being able to constantly improve, while achieving success simultaneously. This philosophy has laid the foundation for our team's leadership and determination to spread the mission of FIRST.
Simbotics is celebrating its tenth year in FIRST, and each year we have progressively become stronger and more determined as we strive for excellence. We have three Woodie Flower Finalist Award winners, nine Volunteers of the Year, and two Dean's List Finalists, illustrating the dedication of our team. Team graduates have benefited greatly from FIRST, with four earning FIRST scholarships. Our 17 regional wins and five Chairman's Awards showcase the talent our team possesses both on and off the field. We are willing to share this expertise and knowledge with other groups and teams. This year, we are mentoring two new FRC teams, with a total of 12 rookie teams that have been mentored or founded by 1114. Every team that we have started has won a rookie award. This demonstrates how we do not merely start teams, but ensure that they have the necessary tools to be competitive. In addition to starting FRC teams, we have helped create two regionals, one in Waterloo 2005 and the new regional at UOIT this year. Five team members have served on these inaugural planning committees. Our team is providing numerous volunteers for the UOIT event, including the Volunteer Coordinator, Director of Team Support and the Regional Chairperson.
Team 1114 began its journey to create robotics teams worldwide in 2005 with the start of our first two FRC rookie teams. To assist in the development of our new teams, we created a six seminar series on the basics of running a team, which was later published into our famous "Textbook for Success" (TFS). This has been viewed over 20 000 times on our website. Seeing how successful this resource was, we wanted to further develop it to help more teams. While mentoring our early rookie teams, we developed a simple drivetrain that allowed inexperienced teams to get off the ground running. The success that was seen in these teams was tremendous, which led to the question, what if all teams had access to this drivetrain? Thus, the "Kitbot on Steroids" (KoS) was born.
By using this drivetrain, FIRST teams are able to make better use of their time during the rest of the build season. The KoS was developed as a hands-on training seminar that has been delivered to teams for the past five years. This past summer, we created step-by-step instructions, as well as a full video tutorial on how to build the KoS. To better reach all FIRST teams, the KoS and the TFS needed to be more accessible. This was fulfilled by the creation of an iOS app, "SimPhone."
SimPhone is a comprehensive learning resource that includes the fundamentals of FIRST. The app features workshops from Simbotics' TFS, and our video tutorial on the KoS. Since its release in early 2012, there have been 1206 downloads in 65 countries around the world. The surge of downloads led the application to earn the coveted “featured item" spot on the reference section of the Canadian iTunes App Store. SimPhone is available for download on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and an Android version is currently in development. In addition, we are collaborating with a Mexican team, 2283, to create a Spanish version of the app to help the influx of new FRC teams in Mexico.
Team 1114 has captured the media by storm and has appeared on many news stations, countless print articles, and many other media outlets internationally. Our team was featured on and helped write a two part episode of "Degrassi: The Next Generation," reaching over six million teens worldwide. Teachers are integral to the success of FIRST teams. This is why Simbotics seized the opportunity to be the subject of a featured article in the September 2011 edition of Professionally Speaking magazine. The magazine is delivered to every teacher, past and present, in Ontario. This allowed us to share our story with over 230 000 teachers, while having them learn the benefits of FIRST.
Simbotics' involvement in our community has led us to provide multiple demonstrations to local schools and organizations. This year, Simbotics provided a demonstration to local special needs students where they had the opportunity to learn about and drive the robots. At the end, each student became an honorary team member, receiving past team medals. These children have become a fan club of ours, watching all our events via webcast. Our endeavors to spread FIRST's message do not stop within our local community. Our 2008 FIRST World Championship robot, and an interactive robot designed by 1114 are currently part of a six month, feature museum exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre on the history of robotics. Approximately 500 000 people will have the opportunity to learn about FIRST and Simbotics, at Canada's largest and most famous science museum over the course of the exhibit. Through our extensive media coverage and large public appearances, Team 1114 has reached over 6.7 million people worldwide. Reaching such a large amount of people helps give FIRST the publicity it needs to grow.
Team 1114 has become an ambassador of science and technology. Through the use of different platforms, including FLL and VEX, our team has been able to impact students internationally. Since 2005, Simbotics has started 47 FLL teams, including five this year, two of which were mentored by 1114 students. Team 1114 also helps run the Niagara FLL Competition with team members involved in all aspects of the event, from judging to refereeing. Simbotics runs one of the largest VEX competitions in the world, with 57 teams from across Ontario attending. In total, Simbotics has started 46 VEX teams. This past VEX season, team 1114 students demonstrated their talent by having all four teams qualify for the World Championship, with our grade nine team, mentored by senior 1114 students, winning the championship.
Simbotics has made it possible for every school in the District School Board of Niagara to have access to FLL and VEX kits. Now all students in the DSBN are able to experience the benefits of robotics. Initially, FTC (then known as FVC) was non-existent in Canada. Simbotics saw this as an excellent opportunity to influence young minds, and became the first Canadian FTC team. By convincing our school board to put funding into this program, we were able to start more teams, and improve national interest in science and technology. Now that all high schools had access to robotics kits, we found that there was still room for improvement and decided to spread VEX into middle schools as well. The 1114 students were recruited to design and incorporate VEX robotics into the mandatory grade seven and eight Design and Technology curriculum. The team created game challenges and developed prebuilt robots, which allows students to learn teamwork, problem solving, and core engineering principles.
For ten years, Simbotics has maintained a strong and lasting relationship between students and mentors. We have created a program that allows personal bonds to form, the "Big Simbot Little Simbot" program. In this program, each student can go to their Big Simbot, a mentor who will aid them with any issue that a student may have, whether academic, or personal. For example, 1114's mentors took our senior students to the University Fair in Toronto to guide them in the difficult process of selecting a university. This type of mentorship has led to over 98% of students pursuing post-secondary education. Once our students complete their team career, they have become hooked on FIRST. Since the inception of our team, over 85% of the team's alumni have stayed involved with FIRST, and 16 former team members have gone on to mentor FRC teams. Our parents are another crucial part of 1114, participating in all aspects of the team. Effective collaboration among students, mentors, parents, and sponsors is always a challenge. We are continuously searching for innovative ways to communicate between team members, using online tools such as Google Groups and Dropbox to allow for efficient online communication.
A key part of Team 1114's success is based on our strong relationships with our sponsors. Our team was initially founded with only one sponsor, General Motors of Canada. Since then, our team has gained support from over 60 local and international sponsors. General Motors and Simbotics have an innovative relationship that benefits both parties. Our team was used as part of a new employee development model, which trains young GM employees by having them lead a FIRST robotics team. Many FIRST alumni have benefited from GM, with 12 of them receiving internships at the Powertrain Plant in St. Catharines. This past summer, GM hosted a Show n' Shine in which the GM shop floor was transformed into a FIRST playing field by members of Simbotics. Our team provided a robotics demonstration that was presented to over 3700 people from the community and the employees in the plant. Team 1114 is regularly mentioned in the GM newsletter, which allows us to publicize our success to GM employees.
Through our continual founding of FIRST teams, development of the SimPhone app, the integration and creation of the robotics curriculum, the Ontario Science Centre exhibit, the "Kitbot on Steroids", and the Professionally Speaking magazine article, Team 1114 has been able to impact society through the power of science, technology and enthusiasm. All of these accomplishments demonstrate Team 1114's continuous pursuit of excellence while working toward fulfilling the mission of FIRST.