Greetings FIRST Chesapeake FRC teams and welcome to the FIRST STEAMWORKS Build Season. As your FRC Program Directors, we work to support you. Below is a brief update on our actions, next steps and resources that may be useful to your team. We are committed to developing and publishing monthly communications throughout the season. It’s National Mentoring Month – thank you for empowering our youth through FIRST.

Welcome Rookie Teams!
Please join us in welcoming our newest teams to FIRST Chesapeake. Be sure to check out these tips for rookie teams:

6312 Christchurch School - Hippocampinae Christchurch, VA
6313 Christchurch School - Hippocampus Christchurch, VA
6326 Family/Community - Baltimore Bolts Baltimore, MD
6334 Family/Community - Aluminati Midlothian, VA
6504 Falls Church High - FCHS FRC Falls Church, VA
6505 Washington Math Science Tech PCS - ElectroPanthers Washington, DC
6543 Pinnacle Academy - pumaTECH Oakton, VA
6584 Academy of the Holy Cross - AHC Transformers Kensington, MD

Work and Practice Spaces for Teams
The following locations are available for teams to work, fabricate parts and practice during the FIRST STRONGHOLD season. We are happy to include any teams that open their space for other teams to utilize – let us know!

Location: FIRST Chesapeake Command Central - 8177 Mechanicsville Tpke, Mechanicsville, VA 23111
Available resources: Work space, basic machine shop, hand tools, storage space, practice field.
Days/Times: By appointment only.
Contact: Glen Davis

Location: FR Team 1418, George Mason High School, 7124 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043
Available resources: Tools, partial field should be ready by January 14th
Days/Times: Daily until 6pm, Saturdays and Sundays until 6pm
Contact: Cricket Moore

Location: FRC Team 2363, Menchville High School, Newport News, VA
Available resources: Probably some mockup practice field components (but we won't know specifics until Week 1 or 2), 6x26 manual milling machine with DRO, lathe, band saw, drill presses, belt sander, grinder, hand tools
Days/times available: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays 6pm -9pm and Saturdays 9am-6pm (or as needed)
Contact: Nate Laverdure 703-200-2336


Location: USRA STEMaction Center, 7178 Columbia Gateway Dr, Columbia, MD 21046
Available resources: Bring your own tools. Teams must sign a waiver to utilize dremels, grinders, etc.
Days/Times: Wednesdays 4-8pm
Contact: Mike Kaurich
Reservation form:

Location: FRC Team 4638 Northwest High School Jabots, Northwest HS 13501 Richter Farm Road, Germantown, MD 20874
Available Resources: Tormach PCNC 1100 Mill, Floor Drill Press, Table Saw, 3d Printer, Other MISC Tools
Days/Times: Saturdays 9am - 3pm
Contact: Mike Ames 301-873-5067

Location: FRC Team 4949 Parkdale HS Robo Panthers, 6001 Good Luck Rd, Riverdale MD 20737
Days/Times: Monday - Friday from 2:30 - 9:00pm
Available Resources: (list specific tools, practice field, etc.) band saw, chop saw, drill press, table saw, dremel, and hand tools.
Contact: 734-587-3350

Location: FRC Team 836 Robobees - The Stachelczyk STEM Center, 43883 Airport View Dr, Hollywood MD, 20636
Available Resources: 1/2 Practice Field, ask if a specific tool is needed
Days/Times Available: Usually most days
Contact: Steve Page 240-298-1697

Location: FRC Team 3941 - Techbrick Robotics STEM Outreach Education Center, Building 4508 Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen, MD
Available resources: Tools, some field/game elements
Days/Times: Upon request (refer to detailed instructions attached for access)
Contact: Marco 410-960-9003 / Tim 302-383-6759


Location: FRC Team 1915 McKinley Technology High School, 151 T Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
Available resources: Band saws, drill presses, chop saw, small brake and shear for aluminum sheet and oodles of hand tools
Days/Times: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, though the lab open Monday and Wednesday as well most of the time. If the team works on Saturday, it will usually be 1000-1400 unless otherwise noted.
Contact: Kenneth Lesley

Location: FRC Team 4242 Living Classrooms Fresh Start (located near the Navy Yard and United States Department of Transportation), 515 Tingey Street, SE, Building 74, Suite 222, Washington, DC 20003
Available Resources: Mostly just typical woodshop tools- miter saw, band saw, table saw, router, drill presses, tiny lathe, hand drills, handheld band saw, clamps, vices, etc. We do have some practice carpet scavenged from one of last year's events.
Contacts: Dominique Skinner – Administrator , Andrew Magaletti – Mentor

Location: Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School, 704 26th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Days/Times: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 4 to 6pm. Saturday (9 to 1pm) is optional if the school's principal agrees to provide custodial/security personnel.
Contacts: Ms. Hannah Whitaker , Leo Yon – Mentor 202-366-7028

FIRST Help Now – new resource! If you know of a great resource for teams, please share.

Team 3132, BumbleB, Cheesy Poofs, Chop Shop, Griffins, Hawaiian Kids, Magma Robotics and Sultans of Turkiye present FIRST Help Now, a 24/7 call centre hosted on Google Hangouts to help teams during build season. They are working together to create a place where you can get immediate help for all your emergency robotic repairs. The idea is to create a place where teams around the world can have immediate access to help and advice if needed. For more information, please go to their website; or "like" them on Facebook.

FIRST and Local Motors Brainstorming Forum
This season we are fortunate to partner with Local Motors National Harbor who will host a brainstorming forum with a Local Motors designer/engineer on Saturday, January 14, 2017 12pm – 2pm. While we are at capacity for onsite participation at the National Harbor location, we still have a few slots available for the interactive live video stream via Zoom. Contact Denise Lewis if your team would like to participate.
In addition, the excellent tips and resources shared in a presentation by Anne and Steve Shade (The Shade Strategy Hour) last season are available – just ask!

Team Inquiry Form
An online team inquiry form is now available on the FIRST Chesapeake website to submit requests for assistance and resources at All inquiries will be sent to both of us and responses will be tracked.

Team Legacy Grant
Our generous sponsor, Showbest Fixture Corporation, has provided $10K for a "team legacy grant" award. Three cash prizes will be awarded to FRC teams in our district that submit the best plan for "leaving their team better than when they found it." Click here to see the award description and guidelines.

Preventing Mentor Burnout
Over the past few months, we have reached out to each main and alternate team contact, visited rookie and at-risk teams and facilitated discussions with coaches and mentors during off-season events and workshops. With our focus on sustainable team growth, we thank everyone who participated and shared suggestions during these discussions.


Telltale signs of struggling at-risk teams:

• Rookie teams lacking a strategic/business plan
• 2nd Year teams (received grant in rookie year without a strategic/business plan)
• Teams without administrative/school support, or resources/funding tied to curriculum
• One key person running the team with a few or no mentors registered in RIMS
• Team loss of a significant sponsor, team lacks financial support from the community
If you have concerns that your team may be facing one or more of these challenges, the sooner they are addressed, the better opportunity you have for success. Please feel free to contact one of us for ideas and guidance on how to strengthen your team.

What we are doing this season:

• Reached out to teams by phone early in the season (Completed: 9/28/16)
• Distributed “Is Your Team Ready to Compete” checklist with top 7 criteria for success (Completed: 9/20/16, link was shared in October newsletter)
• Developed a “Community of Experts” resource (Completed 11/2016)
• Initiated a Mentor Resource initiative through AmeriCorps VISTAs (ongoing through May 2017)
• Connected 9 out of 9 rookie teams with experienced teams/advisors, working with new teams from the start to identify problems early, focusing on business plan development, funding strategies (ongoing)
• Conducted open, accessible discussions about team challenges and possible solutions:

o 10/16/16 - MENTOR BURN-OUT: What's a Team to Do? Command Central, Mechanicsville VA 2pm – 6pm (teleconference available)
o 10/22/16 – IROC, Haymarket, VA
o 10/29/16 - BAA Education Day, Glenelg, MD
o 11/5/16 - Rumble in the Roads, Newport News, VA
o 11/19/16 – FRC Workshops at VCU, Richmond, VA
o 12/10/16 – FRC Workshops at George Mason HS, Falls Church, VA

Where we are going (great solutions generated from our meetings with teams):

• We anticipate modest team growth next season (7% - 10%), with a goal of retaining 97% of veteran teams and expand to an 8th district event (2017-2018 season)
• Our goal is to encourage collaboration among teams (better communication of needs) and advancing the best FIRST Chesapeake teams to the national championship (ongoing)
• Continue direct meetings with team leaders, provide incentives and rewards for participation in programs designed to help teams help themselves (ongoing)
• In addition to a blog and event information, we need to refine the FIRST Chesapeake website to provide more resources for teams, including:

o Mentor resources and training (showcase partnerships with local universities, sponsors) (Target date for completion of VISTA Collaborative: May 2017)
o Funding resources (e.g., state resources, sports leagues) (Target date for completion: May 16, 2017)
o Fabrication resources (workspaces, tools, practice fields at Command Central: (Target date for completion; January 2017)
o Team Inquiry Form/Help Line (Completed: 12/20/16)
o Travel resources, consolidating needs of teams and leverage resources to obtain better pricing on transportation, hotels (Target date for completion: May 2017)

• We will work to identify potential rookie teams and equip them for success (business plan, community asset mapping, match with a veteran team, shadowing, participation in off-season events) (ongoing)
• We will visit at-risk teams and help them develop plans to resolve specific issues (ongoing)

Have an awesome Build Season, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need our help.
* Denise Lewis- Director of FRC Program EAST – (301) 814-0331
* Brian Walinski- Director of FRC Program WEST – (804) 690-4040

Inclement Weather


In case of Inclement Weather the day of
a FIRST Chesapeake Event,
Please call 804.464.8945
after 5am for updates