We had two exciting experiences recently in the high school Academy. Firstly, in the 9th/10th Grade Foundations of Engineering group, we decided to take a break from the rigours of trigonometry to see some robotics in action. Scott Gary, a Providence parent, brought in his Battle Bot–The Piecemaker!

The Piecemaker has competed in several events about fifteen years ago, including “Robot Wars” over in London. The robot enjoyed mixed success, going against such fearsome competitors as Bunny Attack, Hannibal, and Techno Trousers.

Scott pulls off the cover to show the internal workings of The Piecemaker;
Jakob and Samy have eyes on the flamethrower!

Alec and Colby watch as Scott describes the
internal wiring, which was actually less complex
than the robots we will be building next month

The Piecemaker is controlled by a regular remote-controlled aircraft setup, which sends signals to the powerful wheelchair motors at the wheels, and also to the metal cutting disc on the front. Scott showed us a worn-out disc from previous competitions; the fuzzy debris from other robots was still stuck on the blade!

Scott takes The Piecemaker outside to fully demonstrate its destructive capacities!

The students were allowed to operate the robot… be assured that the rotary cutting
disc was disconnected first!

Scott attempted to light the flamethrower, but the wind just wouldn’t cooperate…
too bad!
Low-res proof of former glory: The Piecemaker (middle right) goes head-to-head
with Bunny Attack (left)

This week, the members of the 11th/12th Grade group, Advanced Engineering, took a walking field trip to the nearby Santa Barbara Forge & Iron over on Gutierrez Street. The business is owned and operated by Dan and Andy Patterson, who are newly related by marriage to our own Mr Hurt. Sadly, two of our group of six were out sick, and they were missed!

Dan met us, and began by showing a few of the projects that he currently has on the boil, and how he uses Trimble SketchUp to plan his designs after taking the initial site measurements. Tys and Sarah Jane spent much time last year learning SketchUp, and Kylie and Caleb recently had their first exposure to the CAD program. It was gratifying to see the exact same software in action at a thriving Santa Barbara business just blocks away from the school.

Dan opened the tour by showing some SketchUp projects

Dan was also able to show us around the shop, which is filled wall to wall with fascinating industrial machinery. Workers busily hammered away at iron and steel, drawing it out into custom-made features destined for various local businesses and residences.

Tys, Sarah Jane, Kylie, and Caleb look on as Dan demonstrates the various
co-ordinate axes of the drill press/lathe

This particular piece is destined for a local museum, at which we hope our students
will soon have opportunities to volunteer… more on this later!

Sometimes you just gotta hammer away on
a good old-fashioned anvil

And sometimes you use a jet of energized plasma on a computer-controlled machine;
the students gratefully finished their tour with this huge piece of equipment

Many thanks to Dan and Andy and everyone at Santa Barbara Forge & Iron for their warm reception of our students. Their creative passion, combined with hands-on skills and applied mathematics, are an inspiring example for us. Thanks again also to Scott for bringing in The Piecemaker.

Stay tuned for more projects and field trips and guest speakers! The year is just getting started.