Know Limits - No Limits


I wish to thank our sponsors for today's event!

My name is Kurt Nalty, and I am an instructor in Robotics at Austin Community College. My students work with a variety of robots, ranging from modified Power Wheel toys to ar.drone quadrotor helicopters to Fanuc Industrial Robots with Brandt-Hill conveyors. They program their robots in languages ranging from C to Processing to Teach Pendant. Our focus is providing the skills necessary for these techicians to be responsible for robots, as well as their other factory duties.

One of the items my student quickly learn, is to know the limits of their robots. You see, one of the constants in life, is that we will have bosses who set impossible tasks. The boss wants production levels to double with no expenditure, but the robots cannot make the production levels desired. Knowing the limits of our tools, we must educate the bosses about what can, or cannot, be done.

You see this situation yourselves, in this event today. You are told to use these Lego based robots, with LabView support to carry out a multitude of tasks. You have a limited number of sensors and actuators, and realistically, there is no way you can fulfill every mission 100 percent with what you are given to work with. This can be incredibly frustrating for goal oriented personalities.

Consequently, we create a split in perspective. For the purpose of the task at hand, we do the best we can with the mandated tools. But in the back of our mind, we yearn for a situation free of these limits - where we have no limits - N O limits, as opposed to being bound by arbitrary limits. With no limits, the tasks of todays event become almost trivial. Use people to gather and sort germs and foods. Set up shakers, separators, vacuum systems, - all sort of superior solutions to the task at hand present themselves.

Yes, they may cost more money, but if the goal is performance, we benefit from no limits.

So here is what I encourage you all to do. After today's activities are over, and you are basking in the satisfaction of a job completed, I encourage you to indulge in an exercise with no limits. Learn how to use machine tools. Learn how to program a CNC lathe and CNC mill. Learn how to weld. Learn how to do injection molding. Learn how to use a three-D printer. Anything broken, totally disassemble to see how it was made, and try to fix it. Volunteer to work on your parent's car. By the time you are 20, I want you to be able to make or fix anything.

The more you learn and know, the fewer limits you will find in life.

Now I'm going to give you a few more impossible tasks! Before you are 200, I want to walk on the moons of Saturn. I want you to make house sized snowballs to throw at the Earth and Mars. I want you to water planets, not just plants.

Before you are 2000, I want you to build ramjets to travel between the stars.

By the time you reach 20 thousand, I want you to move stars to travel between galaxies.

I want you to know your limits, yet have no limits.