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13-Year-Old FRC CADder Luke Dreams of a Personal Robotic Butler

Luke Orzechowski (left) and another FRC teammate proudly displays the Chairman's Award banner the team had won.

Code Red Robotics' FRC robot, as designed in PTC Creo Patametric.

Luke Orzechowski (age 13) wants a robotic butler, a personal servant powered by electromechanical principles.

“It would have shelves for snacks and drinks,” he envisioned.

Luke’s robotic butler is still in a very early stage of development, merely a sketch in 3D at this point. But his other robot — the one he helped design for his teammates at Code Red Robotics — has already had several public appearances at the First Robotic Competition (FRC). Last March, in the district competition in Traverse City, Michigan, the team grabbed the Chairman’s Award, reserved for the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate.

Luke is a CADder — CAD drafter in FRC lingo. He’s been using PTC Creo Parametric since the summer of 2009. (The product was still Pro/ENGINEER at the time.) In a way, FRC and robotics are a family business for the Orzechowskis. Luke’s dad Ken Orzechowski has been a volunteer FRC team mentor for the past nine years.

Ken said, “The kids are now using CAD to perform the analysis of the game more. For example, can they fit two robots on the bridge, or three? Can the robot reach a nine-foot bar?”

The moves were part of the maneuvers the competing robots needed to perform to score points in the game. In essence, some FRC teams are using PTC Creo to simulate their games virtually to figure out their strategies before they go on site. “They didn’t do this initially, but they’re doing more of this now,” Ken explained.

Code Red Robotics is an alliances comprising four teams: FRC 2771; FTC 5383 and 5384; and FLL 14953. Of these, FRC represents an older age group and more advanced use of technology. FTC (First Tech Challenge) teams are recruited from grades 7-12. FLL (First LEGO League) teams are recruited from age 9-16. Luke, who is now well-versed in PTC Creo, offers CAD training to those in the younger teams.

The bonds forged in FRC evidently extends into the professional phase. Ken revealed, “One of our FRC partners hired a graduate from the team to work for them. So now, when we need a part cut, we submit it to that partner business, and we get priority scheduling in the queue, even ahead of the paying customers — which is really nice.”

If he were to develop his own CAD program, Luke said he’d like a virtual whiteboard. “I’d like to start on a whiteboard, then bring the drawing into the sketcher,” he said. The whiteboard he wants, he said, would work more like an iPad drawing app.

When he grows up, Luke plans to “design airplanes.”

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About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.

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