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Downingtown Area Robotics

I've been working with Downingtown Robotics since 2007, I was a co-founder / mentor of the initial FIRST Vex Challenge (FVC) team - 3150. In our first season we had 5 roboteers. In 2010 spent over 1100 hours doing robotic related functions.

I am the Chief Roboteer for the VEX Robot Challenge teams at Downingtown. The program has grown from from 1 robot with 5 roboteers to 9 robots and ~45 roboteers for the 2009-2010 season. Most of the roboteers are middle school students. While most of the teams had a great year, two of the teams (80-Pegasus and 81-Longshot) participated at the Clean Sweep VEX World Championship

I won the 2010 VEX Mentor of the Year with my friend and co-founder of STEMRobotics, Steve Rhoads, at the Clean Sweep VEX World Championship. The award was for our work as catalyst and mentors growing interest in robotics in the greater Philadelphia area.

We took 9 teams of the 15 that competed all season to the 2011 World's at Disney World. We won the Excellence and Think Award, two of the top awards given.

In 2012 VEX grew to 18 teams, three of which were high school teams. We had a great season and sent 5 middle school and 2 high school teams to play Gateway in Anaheim CA Disneyland for the World Championship.

For a number of years I was a Senior Mentor for FRC team 1640. My role on the team was Program Management, with the primary task of keeping the build moving forward. I started working on the big robot in 2007 as part of the electrical team for DEWBOT III. With the huge growth in the VEX teams, I've given up FRC and focused on VEX for 2011-12. (There is a limit to the number of hours in a day).

I worked on the following FRC sub-teams:

Program Management
coordination of the many things that happen that are not robot build related and helping move the build process forward.
Layout and design of the electrical subsystem with the students and then supervising the construction.
          int version = 2;
          printf("Hello from DEWBot Robot! Version=%i \n", version);
(Actually we use LabView, but there is not an easy way to show a LabView VI, so you'll have to do with some C code.)
(righty tighty, lefty loosey)
I work mostly on creating jigs, forms and templates used to create the metal parts. Most of these items are made out of wood.

I'm a former member of the Steering Committee, I was the unofficial secretary for meeting minutes.

One of my largest accomplishments for Downingtown Area Robotics was in 2010 was to secure ~15,000 sq feet of shop, practice and meeting space for our teams. While we have had super support from the CCIU in the prior 2 years with our access to the DEC space, the new space is amazing. We finally had space for all of our tools (including the mill that has been in the high school unused for 3 years), full time and full sized practice space and meeting / classroom space. Being able to build and keep up practice space is a huge deal. It takes 1/2 of our evening time to set up and tear down a practice field. It took hours to work out a plan, but it's going to be well worth it.

But as all good things, it came to an end in 2011. The team was able to get temporary space in a warehouse donated by Waterloo Gardens.

In 2011 we kept the pace going with 18 VEX teams. For the first time we have three high school teams! We had almost 100 roboteers and 25 parent-mentors.


I am one of the leaders of STEMRobotics a non-profit organization with the goal of bringing competition robotics to middle and high school students in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. STEMRobotics started off as the sponsor or co-sponsor of three VEX events in the area, including the 2010 Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Competition.

In 2010 we started twelve new teams including a college team Knights of the Old Robotic (KTOR). KTOR won the Excellence Award at the Clean Sweep VEX World Championship.

For 2011-12 we added more teams to our list. One of the rookie teams won the Excellence Award at the STEM Academy VEX qualifier and went to their first World's championship. In 2012 we helped produce 11 events including the popular Technomage League.

From April 2014 through May of 2015 I went on a [6000 mile boat trip] around the eastern part of the USA and Canada.

I moved to Delaware in 2015 and restarted building robot teams. In 2015-16 there were 5 teams, 2016-17 there were 17 teams, in 2017-18 I'm working with 10 VRC teams and 43 VIQ teams, for over 288 roboteers and 52 parents/teachers. Our goal is to have 200 teams for the 2019-20 season.

STEM Academy

During 2009-2010 Downingtown Area School District embarked on a program to build a Science Technology Engineering and Technology Magnet School called the [STEM Academy]. I was part of the Core Team of educators and community members to oversee the initial design process.

I was also a member of the Curriculum Committee that mapped out the core curriculum for the school. I focused on getting and keeping engineering as a core component. I also laid the ground work for robotics to be one of core engineering classes in 9th and 10th grades.

Participation in the STEM Academy with presentations to the board helped heighten School Board, District Administration and Public awareness of Downingtown Area Robotics and our three programs (FLL, VEX, FRC) and the over 100 students we inspire every year.

Robot Outreach

I participate and give a number of seminars and demonstrations every year. In 2009 / 2010 we did 2 adult mentor workshops (7 nights), multiple demos to start new teams in 5 different locations, back to school nights, a Gamers Convention, STEM Defined where 1100 community members got to see robots in action and 3 scout summer camps with about ~120 scouts per group. I have the famous VEX Red Wagon for taking robots to demos in.

We were one of the charter presenters at the Ramp Riot Girls in Gear program. It allow us to showcase our amazing girl roboteers.

I'm also a VEX Event Partner and volunteer at out of area events like the Mid-Atlantic VEX Championship and the TSA/VEX National Championship.

Our VEX robot teams do not just participate in VRC competitions. We won a design award at the 2010 PSU Firefight Challenge. We participated in Swept Away at the 2010 IRI/VEX event, Jack took the event with 15 straight wins. In 2011 five teams went to the PSU Firefight Challenge and every team walked away with an award. In 2012 we have 3 new outside teams (didn't play Gateway, but are doing the Firefight).


There are a number of things that I say on a regular basis during build season:

Hope is not an (engineering, Project Management, design, etc.) strategy.
I've had fun before, I'm pretty sure this isn't it.
I don't think that's going to have a happy ending.
Wow, well that DOES make me happy!
(and I've overheard roboteers say "Ohhhh, that's not going to make Foster happy.")
Well we didn't need those physics laws anyway.
Hey, I'm just the web guy but ...
You know, it's just easier to do it right the first time.
It's analysis, design, then build NOT build, rip apart and rebuild.
There is nothing that can't be built with just a few VEX parts.
It's not really a robot unless there are VEX parts on it.

and of course

Singing "It's the Love Boat" as I do a quick visit to my [happy place] during stressful times.

Contact Information

Contact: DEWBOTROBOT at Yahoo dot com, or me directly at Foster dot Schucker at the domain STEMRobotics dot org. Confused? So are the spam-mail bots trying to figure out the address. Say it out loud, that helps