Our Story

 

The story of ERX begins in 2011 when a sophomore at Atlantic Community High School named Kirill Safin decided to start a programming club to attract students that might be interested in technology (for which there was no club). 

The year after the club was started, Kirill discovered FIRST and with the simple thought of "I wanna try building robots", ERX was formed. Interested in both FTC and FRC, the decision was made to start a team in both divisions, and use FTC (being in the fall) as a preparation for FRC (in the winter).

Thus, in the fall of 2011, with a sponsorship from Rockwell Collins and (subsequently) a sponsorship from NASA & JCPenney, FTC Team 5257 and FRC Team 3992 were created.

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Not knowing what they were getting into, club leadership decided to "pilot" robotics by going at the first FTC season alone. 

After grappling with learning all about the various rules, components, regulations, and parts that come along with FTC, and numerous all-nighters (particuarly the day before the tournament), ERX finally had its first robot.

Attending only the Miami Senior Park HS FTC Qualifier, the team was ecstatic when they ended up being ranked 3rd after Qualifying matches. After some competitive finals rounds, the team left the tournament with a 2nd place trophy and the PTC Design Award - entirely unexpected, and a great showing for a rookie team!

 

After the inaugural (and succesful) FTC season, the leadership opened the robotics portion of the club for all. Thanks to gracious sponsor ICS Inc, we were given a 1,000 sq ft warehouse to utilize for build season

As with any new FRC team, the six weeks that comprised build season were incredibly challenging for all of us. Having little knowledge about how to build a competitive FRC robot, and with only a trivial understanding of what it means to be a FIRST team, ERX has an unsuccesful bid for the rookie all-star award.

Nonetheless, ERX managed to advance to quarter finals at the inaugural FRC South Florida Regional, and walked away from the season enlightened and more determined than ever to make the next season even better.

 
     

2012 ushered in a new era within ERX. After a fairly succesful first year of being in FIRST Robotics, the team was entirely open for anyone to join, and interest jumped to lead to increased enrollment.

The team solidified itself as a contiguous entity of like-minded high school students rather than the somwhat fragmented group of (pretty) clueless kids that it was in the prior year.

The skyrocketing interest in ERX at ACHS (bolstered by awesome robot demos) called for the creation of a second FTC team, 6568, to maintain engagement of all students on the team. 

2012 also ushered in the beginning of the "League System" within Florida, whereby FTC tournaments were run within leagues rather than qualifiers.

 

The FTC season was as (if not more) succesful than expected. After expanding the team and consolidating ourselves, we managed to snag 3rd Place at both the first and second FTC South Florida League Meets. 

Both 5257 and 6568 created competitive robots which were more advanced and competitive than the robot built in the prior year. 

This initial season set the benchmark for our tradition of "continued improvement" which remains a hallmark of our operations even to this day. Every single year is expected to improve on the prior year - not just by luck or hope, but it is the responsibility of the club to make sure it works towards enhancing itself on an annual basis.

 

 
 

 

In fact, this year was a marked improvement over the prior year. 

After stellar appearances at the FTC South Florida League meets, ERX was ranked 17th in the state, advancing to the FTC Florida State Championship for the first time in its history.

After a strong performance, ERX was picked by Paladin Robotics (who ERX chose as an alliance partner at the FTC qualifier in the previous year) as a partner for the finals. After a heated match and a contested ruling by the referees, ERX and the alliance had dropped out of the eliminations after the quarter finals.

 

Armed with passion and a desire to outperform their last years robot, ERX had its first "true" FRC season in 2013

In a matter of six weeks, ERX finally adopted, and members finally learned, CAD software (specifically solidworks). Strides were made in custom machining and robot design, as most of the robot was designed in Solidworks and machined out of sheetmetal.

More than ever before, members were learning the ropes of FRC and were reinforcing themselves with knowledge to be even more prepared in the next season.

The result of the season was a full-court shooter, fully custom, that was the product of countless tears and all nighters at our warehouse.

   
 

 

In the end, there was a week 6 redesign of the robot that ended up causing troubles at the FRC South Florida Regional.

The robot was raised (to avoid full court defense), and a loading plate was made to allow rapid reload and shooting across the court.

Subsequently, the robot only operated at 100% capacity for one match, getting jammed or stalling for the majority of our other matches.

Nonetheless, this one amazing match, where we set (at the time) the tournament high score gave every member of the team a renewed resilience and passion for the team as the fruits of their labor were rewarded.

 

The 2013 FRC season was transformative for ERX in so many ways.

Beyond FRC, this was the season when things finally "clicked" for the team. Prior to this time, our existence, to us, was all about building robots and competing in tournaments. In this season, five words from a mentor completely changed how we approach our purpose: "It isn't about the robot"

No truer words have been spoken. With a renewed purpose and (finally) a thorough understanding of our responsibility and purpose as a FIRST team, ERX set out to change our world one step at a time.

ERX came to the Delray Beach "Youth Townhall" where city legislators asked for input from the youth about city programs. Arriving with our FRC and FTC robots, we made a presentation and told the city that we wanted, with their support, to start (as a beginning) FLL teams within the city, and then grow and start more FIRST teams.

 

 

 

After the Youth Town Hall, it became evident that we wouldn't be getting too much support from the city. Bureaucracy loves to applaud things, but seldom does it give itself to avidly supporting them.

We took matters into our own hands. In the summer of 2013, ERX founded STEM HQ, Inc., a 501(c)(3) recognized non-profit organization tasked as the community outreach operations arm of ERX. 

Little did we know, the existence of STEM HQ was about to profoundly transform the future of the team and forever alter our understanding of our purpose and our priorities.

In the fall of 2013, STEM HQ launched an ambitious organization now known as the "Palm Beach Robotics League." The PBRL aimed to make it easy to start/join an FLL team by knocking down barriers to entry.

Anyone interested in joining an FLL team would sign up on our website, and we would provide a space to meet twice a week, EV3 kits, shirts, handle tournament registrations, and most importantly, provide ERX members as experienced mentors to the kids that would be joining the world of robotics.

 

 

The inaugural season of the Palm Beach Robotics League was wildly succesful. At the start of the season, ERX members met up and constructed 8 FLL tables in preparation for the demands of the league.

We made arrangements with the Delray Beach Public Library and Caffeine Spaces (a co working space) to be able to meet Wednesdays and Sundays for two hours as "practice" days.

In our first year of running the league, we managed to start ELEVEN (11) FLL teams engaging over 60 students. We provided EV3 kits, laptops, shirts, and our expertise to these teams and guided them throughout the season. In the upcoming season, we plan to double FLL capacity to over 20 teams, as well as starting 10 FTC teams in the league (doubling the size of the South Florida FTC league).

   
   

The 2013-2014 school year was also host to countless outreach efforts aside from the league.

ERX made an appearance at the Miami Mini Maker Faire, where we demoed both our FRC and FTC robots, as well as at the "Art of the Start" event in Delray Beach, where we shared our efforts with the league and introduced models for financially sustainable models of educational robotics.

ERX members also volunteered at a summer "Makers Camp" where we helped teach kids how to solder, program micro controllers, develop NXT robots, and 3D print their own creations.

 

Meanwhile, with all of extensive outreach efforts taking place, we were also ramping up for the FTC season. 

The new game, "Block Party" was, in our opinion, an awesome game. After about two months of prototyping and robot building, we arrived at the first FTC South Florida League meet of the new season.

After a long day of matches, we ended up being ranked first after qualifications (a first). We proceeded to pick team 3888 Greased Lightning, with whom we ended up winning the finals and being awarded 1st Place. 

This was the first time ERX had ever had a first place victory, and was the most significant trophy to our small collection of awards. But more importantly, it was in-line with our tradition of "getting better" every year, and was the beginning of a season that would rock the fiber of our being.

 

   

About a month later, ERX arrived to the second league meet of the season. Even though we had a great robot in our first showing, we made major alterations to make it even better. 

It was a good thing we did - all of the teams improved their robots significantly and the meet was more competitive than the first meet by far. 

Nonetheless, ERX pulled through to another first place victory (again with team mate Greased Lightning). 

In just a short two months of a new season, ERX added two first place trophies to our collection, but more importantly, was refining the caliber of team that we are.

 

Finally, in December, we arrived to the league championship. Again, we made significant alterations to the robot to improve its competitive edge, and again, it paid off.

After some uneasy moments but another streak of victories, ERX was ranked 1st after qualifiers. ERX chose Team 6364 Pulsatrix as our alliance member, and after undefeated semi-finals and finals round, we once again landed a 1st place victory. Even moreso, we were awarded the "Rockwell Collins Innovate Award" for our persistence in robot innovation.

At the end of the league championship, ERX had an undefeated season, three first place titles, was ranked 1st in South Florida, 5th in the state, and, for a second year, a ticket to the Florida State Championship. Nothing was more thrilling.

   
 

 

The success didn't stop there.

After an unsuccseful run at the Florida State Championship in the prior year, ERX returned full force, ending up as the 2nd ranked team after the Qualification matches.

ERX chose team Minotaur and Super 7 as alliance members, and quickly won the semi-finals rounds. In the end, ERX ended up being the tournament finalists, and, more importantly, had a ticket to the inaugural South Super Regional in San Antonio, TX. 

ERX, as hoped for, exceeded the successes of the previous year and got past the Florida State Championship to a tier it had never yet been to before.

 

It was a wild and amazingly fun ride to be at the first-ever South Super Regional.

Due to a dissapointing loss in our very first match (but victories in all of the rest), we ended being ranked 8th overall in the Bluford division. Luckily, we were picked by team 4847 CHROME for the eliminations. 

Against all odds, ERX came out to a triumphant victory in the Bluford division, competing against some of the best teams in the country. Taking both the division semi-finals and finals to the third match, there were certainly many nail-biters, but we prevailed.

In the event finals, an unfortunate robot "tipping" and mechanical malfunction ended in our loss after a 1-1 tie with the Ochoa division winners - ending up in a finalist placing. Nevertheless, ERX received an invitation to the FTC World Championship, which was what mattered most.

 

 

 

After three days of intense competition at the 2014 FTC World Championship, ERX was ranked 2nd in the Franklin division after Qualifying matches. We were picked by team 7013, Hot Wired, with whom we previously set the world record of 448 points.

After an undefeated run in the Franklin Division and an undefeated run in the DaVinci Division, ERX and its alliance were crowned World Champions.

In a short matter of three years, ERX went from not knowing a thing about FTC (and being unable to produce truly competitive robots) to a world championship title. The rise to excellence, the journey, and the adventure were all absolutely remarkable. 

 

Even during our time-consuming journey to being FTC World Champions, we still had an arduous FRC build season to partake in.

The 2014 FRC season was our most succseful ever - for the first time in our history, ERX was an alliance captain and for the third year in a row advanced as far as the quarter finals.

This was also the year of our most competitive robot yet - combining all of our prior knowledge of all things FRC, and a commitment to make it our best season yet, we created a beautiful machine.

 

     

Perhaps more importantly, ERX won the "Entrepreneurship Award" at the FRC South Florida Regional.

The Entrepreneurship Award recognized the success of the Palm Beach Robotics League as a financially sustainable and FIRST-conscious approach to educational robotics.

It also applauded our efforts in starting "TechGarage" - a fusion of a Makerspace and a Robotics Workspace - and the preliminary phases that we had gone through with it.

 

News of our victory at the world championship, our innovation with the Palm Beach Robotics League, and our countless outreach efforts travelled fast.

We were featured in both the Palm Beach Post and Sun Sentinel - the two major newspapers in South Florida, as well as The Pineapple - the newspaper of Delray Beach. Even cooler, we were featured on WPTV South Florida - Channel 5 news. 

The skyrocketing of our team, which was started just a three years earlier, was something that put everyone who discovered us in awe.

We were honored by the City of Delray Beach at a City Commission meeting and have since been working with the city to establish a satellite campus of "TechGarage" within Delray Beach.

 

     

The journey didn't end there. Eagles Robotics Xperience had an amazing year with endless success, but our job is never done. 

With the summer approaching, STEM HQ planned to start the Tech Garage Summer Camp - a revolutionary and new kind of summer camp. In-line with our mission of making STEM more accessible to everyone than ever before, the Tech Garage Summer Camp stood aside from all other sports summer camps as nothing short of subversive.

In the four week summer camp, with ERX team members as camp counselors, we ran both an "Advanced" track and a "Beginning" track.

 

In the advanced track, we taught a group of 30 students to:

  • Build LEGO EV3 Robots and utilize sensors, as well as prepare them for FLL by having them compete in "Nature's Fury"
  • Use CAD, initially with LEGO Digital Designer and, later, with full-fledged SolidWorks - to both design their robots and make custom parts (which they would later 3D print)
  • Program Lua in "Computers" in Minecraft to interact with the environment in their favorite video game.
  • Build competitive FTC robots for "Block Party", with expertise provided by us, world champions.
  • Program the STAMP Microcontroller and learn basic circuitry.
  • Solder custom circuits and kits, including FM Radios and LED Clocks.
  • Build "SeaPerch" underwater robots for last years SeaPerch game.
  • Model, test, prototype, and then build and launch custom bottle rockets.
  • Build, program, and then fly... Quadcopters!
  • Learn Java by programming tanks in Robocode and competing head to head
  • Programming Android apps using Basic4Android
   
 

 

In the beginning track, we taught a group of 40 students to:

  • Build LEGO robots for both the "Nature's Fury" FLL challenge and "Senior Solutions" FLL challenge. 
  • Learn all of the concepts that make an FLL team amazing - proper utilization of sensors, advanced programming, mechanism contraptions.
  • Build "dragsters" and race them to learn gear ratios and how to make the fastest car
  • Build and battle "Sumobots" in a traditional settings to learn how to use line sensors and the importance of torque.
  • Learn how to program in ComputerCraft in Minecraft, as well as basic Java in eclipse.
 

Through a partnership with the FAU School of Business, we are also preparing to launch "TechGarage" within Tech Runway @ FAU. 

TechGarage is a concept of STEM HQ that represents a fusion of a Makerspace and a robotics workspace.

One part of the building houses a massive state-of-the-art machine shop with high-end equipment and machinery, 3d printers, mills, lathes, etc, for hobbyists, artists, and anyone with an idea to make their dreams a reality. In another part of the building, there is a robotics workspace that houses a dozen FTC teams, over 20 FLL teams, an FRC field/workspace, and features classrooms and presentation rooms.

By housing both a FIRST Robotics workspace, makerspace, and business incubator under one roof, TechGarage creates an atmosphere of innovation, ingenuity, and utter inspiration.

We have been hard at work modeling TechGarage, assembling budget projections and expected inventories, and are working with the team leading Tech Runway to launch TechGarage by the end of 2014.

Having TechGarage launched will allow for never-before-seen opportunities within FIRST Robotics. By pooling experience and knowledge, parts, materials, like-minded students, and mentors all under one roof, it's easier than ever to bring out the best in teams and cultivate a STEM center.

 

 

 

Eagles Robotics Xperience started as one simple idea from a kid who wanted to build robots. What ERX has become was beyond even our wildest imaginations.

The journey to becoming world champions, the adventure in finding our true purpose, and the road that lies ahead - all of these aspects define ERX and are crucial parts of our story and the portion that remains unwritten.

As mentioned, ERX has a commitment to make each year better than the last. We have a strong conviction to make our community and world a better place, and we achieve that through our extensive and innovative outreach efforts, as well as by competing on a high caliber level.

Our success both on and off the field is a testament to our credo, the resilience of the team, and the atmosphere of excellence that we have cultivated. We hope to continue this for years to come.