What We've Been Up To...

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Hey everyone!

We sincerely hope everyone’s been safe and sound, and if not, then that you will recover soon.

Here’s what we’ve been up to since our last team update in March.

Country Roads Video:
A team tradition of ours for the past, oh boy, 12 years has been singing “Country Roads” by John Denver on our bus rides to competitions. Why we’ve been doing this, idk, but as a rising Senior on the team, I can say we’ve done it many times during my freshman and sophomore year and it’s always a fun moment. But obviously this past year was different — we went to no competitions. So instead, we decided to take it virtual, and record many team members singing a line of the song, and at the end, we put everyone singing on the screen at once. It’s amazing, and I love watching it over and over.

Being in charge of pretty much everything behind the scenes for this video, I can tell you that it’s not at all as easy as it looks. Besides the typical struggles when planning something like this (someone forgets to turn in their video or someone sings the wrong line), the editing of this was, let’s just say…wayyyyy harder than I imagined. For every single person, I had to speed up and slow down their singing to stay on the beat while making sure to keep them in pitch. Even harder was the last part, where everyone sung the final lines ever so slightly different, causing me to have to manually tune every single person’s lines to a different person who best followed the beat of the song — which, I believe was Erin Yim — in order to not have it sound like a bunch of spaghetti. Besides that, my iMac just simply couldn’t handle playing 20 videos at once, causing it to lag like crazy. But in the end, after almost four entire days straight of editing, it was such a fun experience and I know that everyone loved it equally so.

Operation: Get Well Cards:
Due to the COVID crisis, we partnered with Operation: Get Well to send get-well cards to COVID patients, just to cheer them up as best as we could. A team of highly motivated students put together this initiative, with the goal of sending 2638 cards collectively as a team. Ultimately, we surpassed this goal by the end of the summer, however, one of our team members — Kevin Wang — ended up creating a bot script which sent thousands of cards at once! While that wasn’t exactly the intended way to send these cards, it was very cool, so congrats Kevin!

In order to donate PPE to those in need, throughout the summer we’ve also been collectively buying PPE for donation. In order to incentivize this, we’ve been giving out small gift cards to those who donate the most!

Virtual Appreciation Reception Awards:
For the past many years, we’ve had our annual end of year celebration where we celebrate our accomplishments, give out awards to team members, and have a nice dinner. But obviously this year was different — so we did what pretty much everyone else on this planet has done — host a Zoom event instead.

During this event, we played some team videos, gave out some awards, and had virtual visits from the Great Neck Public Schools administration. To see the awards that were given out, head over to our Appreciation Reception Awards page.

Scouting App:
This past year, I was fortunate enough to work with Eric Wang to lead some incredibly motivated freshmen — Kevin Wang, Eric Yachbes, Aidan Din, and Joy Yang — to develop a fully native scouting app for iOS and Android. While we did end up completing one, it wasn’t very optimized and definitely needed some more work. So this summer the app team is worked very hard on optimizing the app and making it look and function really nicely. We are very excited to use this the coming year and share it with teams all over the world.

CAD Course:
For the 2nd summer in a row, Rebel Robotics is hosting their signature CAD course to 17 students who signed up. Led by me and my assistants Andrew Dea, Eden Katz, Simon Shamash, Saif Punjwani, and Nick Pfeiffer, we have been providing video lessons and corresponding assignments to our “students.” We even “grade” them by providing feedback on their work. Overall, everyone has done an amazing job so far, and we’re looking forward to seeing what everyone is capable of during the build season.

Robotics Alumni Zoom:
What better way to chat with team alumni and learn about their experiences in college than to host a Zoom session to do just that? Thanks to Saad Satter, SHS class of 2019, many team members had a great time and learned a lot about engineering at the college level. The meeting ended up lasting a few hours as alumni shared stories of their experiences on the team — some occurring many many years ago.

Major Website Update:
In my free time I worked on a major update to this very website. You can read more about it on the Changelog, but essentially this version streamlines the entire site, focusing on consistency between pages.

Staying Connected on Discord:
Throughout the summer, our Discord server has been quite active! It’s been a great way for many on the team to stay connected virtually.

Preparing for the 2021 Season:
Finally, this brings us to what’s most important now: the 2021 season. Already, we’ve held our Returning Members Meeting, and next week we will hold our New Members Meeting — all virtually for now, of course! We’re currently brainstorming activities for our new members, and while these obviously won’t be anywhere near as good as cutting wood in the woodshop, it is the best that we can do at this time. We can only hope that there will be a vaccine by Build Season so we can continue playing the best sport for the mind: robotics.

Stay safe,
Reid Fleishman