Since our teams inception, the WiredCats have spread their influence in our school and in our community. First, we extended our reach to the different parties at our school, seeking to expand technology on campus and environmental sustainability.
We also manage Westminster’s involvement in the Green Cup Challenge, an annual inter-school competition to reduce energy consumption. Since 2008, this initiative has grown from 2 schools to over 200 because of our efforts. Last year’s energy competition helped save over 1 million kilowatt-hours of energy. The WiredCats have also coordinated battery, plastic, glass, aluminum, ink jet, cell phone, and paper recycling on campus. Starting in the 2009 season, the WiredCats have set up recycling at every competition as an extension of our on-campus initiative. A partnership with Keep Smyrna Green has led to the implementation of similar recycling programs in nearly 20 schools. We partner with sponsor Air Quality Sciences to test our robot for dangerous emissions, and we encourage other teams to do the same. Since this initiative began in 2009, the WiredCats have passed every year. Furthermore, several team members utilize carbon-neutral forms of transportation and encourage others to follow their lead. Taking responsibility for the world in which we live has formed a strong trunk for our Tree of Success, and consequently we have earned a reputation as “The Green Team.”
At competitions, Gracious Professionalism Task Forces seek out teams in need at competitions, loaning our skills and tools. For example, at the Alamo Regional in 2011, the WiredCats assisted FIRST Team 3036 in building their robot from scratch. By Saturday, the team had a functional machine. Additionally, we hosted FIRST Team 2420 in our shop every week throughout the 2012 build season. Indeed, whenever we hear about a local team in need of a more sophisticated workspace, we arrange for them to visit. We have mentored about 40 FLL teams in the Atlanta area and are beginning a program in VEX mentoring at our own school. Overseas, the WiredCats have started FLL teams at our sister school, Mt. Kenya Academy in Nyeri, Kenya, and we are also working to spread FIRST at South African schools. The WiredCats helped to start 2010 International Rookie All Star FIRST Team 3091 and 2011 Peachtree Regional Rookie All Star FIRST Team 3694. We also began collaborating with Israeli FIRST Team 1574 when they visited Atlanta to attend the 2008 Championships and have continued this mentoring relationship ever since. Over 10 other FRC teams have benefited from the WiredCats’ instruction as well.
We also aid FLL and FRC teams using simple guides to the FIRST program. For the FLL community, we have published a video on YouTube, FLL Made Easy, that teaches the skills essential to success at Lego League competitions; the video is currently being redone for the changing FLL program. For FRC teams, the WiredCats have created Entrepreneurship Made Easy, a ten-step guide to creating a strong business plan and executive summary. We have also written a pamphlet entitled 10 Steps to Rookie Success that we distribute to anyone interested in starting an FRC team. These guides can be found in the Resources page.
Our major projects include Project Light Feet (PLF), the Green Alliance, and Internship Linking Service (ILS). More information can be found on these initiatives on their respective pages. (hyperlinks where they should be)
Another important branch of our team is our volunteer work. WiredCats have done over 25,000 hours of service since our inception, including work at the Boys and Girls Club, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, and several other service foundations. Each team member performs at least 100 hours of service a year, mostly through individual projects.
Between November 2009 and November 2010, the WiredCats ran FIRST 365, a project for which we performed one activity per day to increase scientific appreciation. This project actually lasted past the projected finish date, continuing through May 2011 due to its integration into the team’s outreach approach. In light of our desire to maximize the number of individuals who gain positive exposure to science and technology through our programs, the WiredCats have chosen to maximize the depth of out efforts rather than their breadth since the conclusion of FIRST 365.
The WiredCats have made nearly 150 community appearances since 2009 to spread the FIRST spirit. We give frequent robot demonstrations to junior high and high school students and speak at other schools to encourage STEM-related pursuits. We have also met with military personnel, visited libraries, and written to state and national legislators. Notably, we have met with the Governor of Georgia, organized the Atlanta Braves’ first “Annual Bot Day with the Braves” in 2009, and coordinated recycling in conjunction with Call2Recycle while displaying our robot at the Green Concert with Sir Paul McCartney. Additionally, many media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, CBS, NBC, the AJC, and 30 others, have featured stories pertaining to the WiredCats due to our aggressive press release distribution. Such outreach activities encourage other FIRST teams in our area and around the world to follow our example.