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Midwest Regional

After a successful run at the Central Illinois Regional in Peoria, Ironclad strives to prosper again at the Midwest Regional in Chicago. Come check out our World Championship qualifying robot, Athena, at the UIC Pavilion! More information down below:

Invite Midwest Illinois Steamworks

We hope to see you there!

Central Illinois Regional

The time has come! We’ve bagged our robot and are ready for our annual trip to Peoria. The Central Illinois Regional will be held at Bradley University Renaissance Coliseum in Peoria, Illinois on March 17th and 18th.

Friday’s Schedule:

  • Opening Ceremony: 8:30 am – 9:00 am
  • Qualification Rounds: 9:00 am – 5:45 pm

Saturday’s Schedule:

  • Opening Ceremony: 8:30 am – 9:00 am
  • Qualification Rounds: 9:00 am – 12:15 pm
  • Playoff Rounds: 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

We hope to see you there!

BSA Stem Fest

On October 29th, Ironclad attended BSA STEM Fest in Morris, Illinois at the Rainbow Council Scout Reservation. This was an event where kids ages from about 6-10 with their parents came and saw multiple demonstrations in STEM done by various groups, one of them being team Ironclad. We brought Talos and our two small robots (argobots) and they were real crowd pleasers! Kids got to drive and learn a little about the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST in general. We also told parents about these programs, and we definitely got people interested! Most parents were asking us by when they left about opportunities for their children to join a team like this, one parent who was even interested in starting their own! Over the day, we had about 50 visitors total and all of which were very pleased with us! This event definitely helped us spread the FIRST message across a whole new community we hadn’t touched, and we were definitely welcomed. This is absolutely an awesome event to return to next year, and I already can’t wait.

Maker Faire

On November 5th and 6th, 10 members of Ironclad, plus our coaches, assisted Barnes and Noble at their Second Annual Mini Maker Faire. The Barnes and Noble Mini Maker Faire is an opportunity to teach a younger audience the advantages of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). The first Maker Faire was started by Make Magazine in California and has grown to reach around the world, eventually adding a Mini Maker Faire for smaller Maker communities. Barnes and Noble graciously allowed members of Ironclad to come in and help with the Maker Faire. We helped with the set up of many of the items that were to be on display, including a 3d pen. Many of the products were not to be assembled by the team, but rather would be on display for kids to build. Much like Legos, those items would encourage kids to create and think critically. These creations would, many times, turn out incredible, impressing all of us. One of the products was a small robot that could be easily coded using different color combinations on a line. This rudimentary way of programming introduces children to the idea that they don’t have to just watch robots, but children can direct them with coding. The creativity and enthusiasm found in the children proved that there will always be Makers wanting to share their ideas and creations. Along with Barnes and Noble’s display items, we drove our robot,Talos, in the store, demonstrating the abilities we chose for it to have. While the robot was running, team members spoke about FIRST and our team to curious kids and parents. Many of the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. were astounded a team of high schoolers could accomplish so much, and seemed genuinely interested in encouraging their young one’s enthusiasm in STEAM. Besides the products used to create things by children, there were many cool items on exhibit to demonstrate the increasing abilities of technology, including a 3d printer. An employee of Barnes and Noble brought in his VR headset and  allowed people to try it out. The exhilarating experience of it made evident the various possibilities in technology. At the end of the Mini Maker Faire, while cleaning up, I realized that every kid we inspired those two days could, in turn, do the same later in their life, and that chain would keep on growing. The foundations laid by current STEM enthusiasts will remain throughout generations, providing the basis for future innovators. Due to the welcoming atmosphere of Barnes and Noble and the experience of the Mini Maker Faire, I, and Ironclad, look forward to the Third Annual Barnes and Noble Mini Maker Faire and thank Barnes and Noble for allowing us to help with this one.

-Smit Purohit



e2i Intership Experience

In order to be successful in engineering, real world experience is an immense help. This is why I’m so thankful for my time at e2i over the summer. E2i is one of Ironclad’s earliest sponsors, and I was so fortunate to have earned the opportunity of interning there.


Being on the robotics team sparked my interest in electrical engineering, and so I jumped at the chance to learn more. Before starting the internship, I was a bit nervous going into such a professional environment having only minimal knowledge. As time went on, I became more and more comfortable with being there and I learned an incredible amount. I got to develop my interest for electrical engineering and I can say for a fact that I left knowing twice as much if not more as when I began.

While I was there, I got to experience helping to put together control panels, and in turn, learned valuable skills that I will use in my future career. One of the most significant elements of working on the panels is precision. The people whom I was shadowing would constantly be using tools to increase quality through precision before ever making a cut in the metal, or putting a part into place. There was never a time in which the workers there would cut corners or rush through their work.  I believe it conveys the importance of putting as much effort as possible into creating your work with quality.

Another important skill I picked up was communication and organization in a professional environment. Just by listening to what the workers say, the sense of efficiency and respect is evident. I felt as though I was witnessing a well-oiled machine in motion. All of the workers knew exactly how to handle problems and stay organized. In the workshop, the way that our instructors worked together to complete a common goal was an obvious key to their success. I got to practice these habits, and I know that my future career will be affected greatly by gaining the prior knowledge of how to act and communicate in the workplace.

Perhaps my favorite thing about the internship was getting the hands-on experience. I was taught about how to read schematics, encountered a bunch of new tools, and learned about the functions of the different sections of the control panels. By watching the workers, I learned useful strategies for troubleshooting and became more comfortable with piecing together the puzzle of how electrical systems really work. Along with being incredibly interesting, this is also very useful. I will be able to go farther in my goal to pursue my interests. Acquiring this knowledge and experience is an opportunity that I will be forever grateful for.

-Maggie Barclay


IOI Loders Croklaan


Around the end of October, Ironclad sent a group of students to a generous company to tell them about robotics. The group contained current Awards captain John Austin, mechanical buff Nick Thiesen,  strategist Andrew Pranger,  and myself.  What started off as a pre-planned presentation quickly exploded into a passionate recounting of last season and a conversation about FIRST Robotics and what it’s done for our school, community, and team.  IOI Loders Croklaan heard us out and gave the team a considerable sum,  and now we proudly call them Platinum sponsors. However, the experience at IOI is one that, personally, I won’t forget. We were welcomed into a warm,  fashionably furbished building from the brisk cold. Before presenting,  we introduced ourselves and expanded on our positions on the team. Afterwards, we got to ask our own questions (thankfully, Mrs. Hampton prepared us for this). Unfortunately, studying engineering has only increased in difficulty. Fortunately for myself and other ladies, colleges eagerly accept women into their engineering programs. Since, in general engineering is a field dominated by men, many universities actively look for women to accept into their schools. Therefore, is important to not be intimidated and apply! IOI Loders Croklaan also talked to us about potential work opportunities outside of school and the importance of internships.

Most importantly, for those who do not know, IOI is a research and manufacturing company spread across three continents. They create the essential part of the delectable delights we eat nearly every day (for example, the white filling of an Oreo, the center of a Twinkie,  etc.). They conduct research constantly to find more efficient and environmentally safe methods of production. IRONCLAD is grateful for the opportunity to speak to the prestigious IOI Loders Croklaan and for the advice they so kindly imparted to us. Here’s to a successful sponsorship!

-Jessica Echeverría

Presentation Team

For the past month, the presentation team has been going out into the community to present to potential sponsors. Ironclad’s main goal in these presentation is to make sure people know that FIRST Robotics is more than robots.  We invest in our community and our students to prepare for the future.

 To prepare for these companies, the presentation sub team practices on a regular basis to continue improving everyone’s public speaking abilities.  The lessons learned will aid us in the future for our careers.

Before the presentation team was created, a couple of students embarked on a journey to create a short video that encompasses everything that Ironclad is.  So far,  the feedback has been fantastic and we couldn’t be happier with how these meetings with the businesses are going.  Ironclad is very grateful for these companies who take their time to learn more about who we are.

-John Austin

Best Homecoming Float 

Near the beginning of the school year when summer was still alive and kicking, Ironclad got to work on our homecoming float. During last year’s parade we flaunted a steamboat and a group of fashionably dressed team members in our steampunk rendition of a homecoming float – there was even an elephant. That year we were honored to claim the award for Most Creative Float. 

For this year’s homecoming parade, the overall theme was Hollywood Nights. So, in an effort to stick to the assigned theme we built a hamster wheel. 

fb_img_1474672747217Actually, it was a wheel painted red to emulate a red carpet and designed for our robot Talos to drive on. For the whole parade, Talos drove forward in the wheel and finely dressed students imitated the commentators you would see at an actual red carpet in Hollywood. Finally, when the time came to march, Ironclad enlisted two ‘paparazzi’, a group of die hard fans to stalk Talos, and an ‘agent’ to present Talos’s portfolio to the judges. We marched our float throughout the whole parade without a hiccup. As a result of our creative and hard workers on the team, we took home the prize winning award of Best Float at the parade this year!

– Jessica Echeverria


BBCHS Academic Foundation


Last year, the Academic Foundation provided us with $5000 and a matching grant. The team wouldn’t know it at the time, but it would boost us through our first hectic build season.

This year, John Austin pieced together an effective presentation and a small group composed of himself, Vidhi Patel, Anthony Nepomuceno, and myself. In a basic rundown, we talked about last year, our hopes for this year’s season, and of course, finances. After all, the team truly flourished under the Academic Foundation’s donation last year along with others, and we wanted to prove that. Our team won many awards and gained valuable experience. We formed a close-knit family that met many different teams at Regionals and Championships, had fun, but competed seriously. So, after practicing many times, we went to the Academic Foundation to ask them for their sponsorship and they generously delivered again. With their sponsorship on our side this upcoming year, I’m positive Ironclad will have another successful and engaging year.

-Jessica Echeverria