Salutations, friends!

It’s time for our first (and last) preseason update of this year! I hope that the first few months of the school year has treated everyone well and that you’ve had a great holiday season and start to the new year. This post comes a bit later than usual–after all, tomorrow is Kickoff! But we’ve been busy restructuring and reorganising how things work, especially with the pandemic still ongoing.

But preseason has been in full swing, and our departments have been adjusting well to a mostly online format! Though we started off the year completely virtually, we’ve been permitted to re-enter the workshop (with many safety precautions in place, of course). Here’s an inside look at what each department has been up to!

During the off-season, the Business department was challenged by the change to a virtual format; however, every member performed admirably, finding innovative solutions to adjust to and overcome obstacles. In just a few months, new members learned the basics of formal presentation, communication, and professional writing. Veteran members, meanwhile, have largely concentrated their efforts on writing and sending out grant requests to organizations such as Google, Qualcomm, and Viasat. As the 2020 year came to an end, the Business department ultimately raised $10,000 through grants, an impressive joint effort from all our remarkable members.
- Kevin Z.

These past few months, we have been busy with training new members and working on some offseason projects virtually. We’ve made our way through the basic programming and Control Theory parts of the curriculum, and are currently working on teaching the structure of our robot’s codebase. We have also worked on several advanced projects on the side, updating our codebase to the new WPILib 2020 update, and exploring field localization and advanced estimation and control. Overall, we feel confident about this new virtual environment, and we’re excited to see the progress we will make after kickoff and the start of build season!
- Jude L. and Mason H.

As Marketing had a hiatus on sewing and button making, preseason was focused on social media communications, graphic design, and merchandise. Recently, marketing members have made a return to the workshop to start sewing and get members more involved; in the latest trip to the workshop, we made lots of narwhal plushies and pins. Come build season, we’ll be focusing on more frequent social media updates and creating a new shirt/pin design.
- Francesca P. and Carolyn C.

Mechanical has been conducting many online lectures for our new members, mainly focusing on training for CAD, CAM, and Slicer. We have recently been given access to the workshop, allowing us to clean up, maintain the machines, and get ready to build the next robot in January. Along with training, new members were given small projects to practice the skills taught in the lectures. Finally, to prepare for the build season, we hold meetings every Monday to design our robot by drawing ideas from last year’s robot.

This preseason, the Strategy department has focused on rebuilding the department’s structure by giving veteran members the opportunity to start their own projects. New members are able to work 1-on-1 with veterans in this environment. Our veterans are exploring new perspectives in our game design project and new ways of analyzing our real-time competition data via our robot redesign project. By far, the main accomplishment of Strategy is teaching our new members the essential skills to turn analyzed information into game strategies. Despite working together solely online, we got the chance to meet new freshmen and closely include them in our team through our bonding events.
- Yash V.

That’s all for now! Our next update will be on Kickoff, and as you all know, tomorrow is the big day. We’re super excited to see what the new season will bring!

For more updates, you can check out our Instagram page at @3128aluminarwhals!

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