It is no secret that Oswego State does not have a mascot that comes on the ice during the hockey games to get the crowd pumped up for the Lakers.
There is one thing, however, that gets the crowd on their feet and cheering every hockey game, without fail. That thing is a miniature Zamboni that shoots T-shirts into the crowd. The miniature Zamboni is the product of a student group on campus called Team Mini.
Team Mini was started in 2003 by professor Dan Tryon. Tryon came from West Virginia University and was used to seeing mascots at the Big East football games. When he arrived at Oswego State, Tryon noticed that there was no mascot to get the crowd excited.
“Although I wasn’t too keen on the mascot… we could be doing more at games just to build the environment and atmosphere and create something unique,” Tryon said. “So being in the technical field, I had this idea.”
Tryon decided, that instead of a mascot, the Lakers needed a remote-controlled robotic miniature Zamboni. Tryon and some students got right to work and came up with a design for the machine and then decided to pitch the idea to the school.
“We went over to see the athletic director and said ‘What do you think?’” Tryon said. They got the permission, but they also needed to clear the design with the Zamboni company.
He then called the company and the company gave them permission. The team then set about building the machine. They measured every single part of the real Zamboni to get an idea of the scale and came up with the scale of one-third the size.
“From then it was probably about a year and a half, almost two years, of building, experimenting, trial-and-error to get the whole thing to come together,” Tryon said.
While it is perhaps best known for its miniature Zamboni, Team Mini has a lot more to offer.
According to Team Mini President Andrew Wager, a junior technology education student, there are three main groups within Team Mini. One group focuses on maintaining the miniature Zamboni, another is working on designing and creating a new and improved miniature and the last group is working on planning a robotics competition.
At a typical Team Mini meeting, members will break off into their respective teams and begin work.
“We let our members choose between the three groups and those groups will conquer individual tasks,” Wager said.
One of the most important tasks is maintaining the miniature Zamboni. According to Team Mini Treasurer Alex Elkins,
“That’s everything from making sure the tires are at the right pressure to full on electronics and changing the batteries out and troubleshooting circuits that go faulty,” Elkins said.
However, Team Mini is hoping to fix a lot of the recurring issues the miniature Zamboni has with the new model that is currently in the works.
“It will be the same size as the current one, but a lot of the systems will be more advanced and more foolproof,” Elkins said.
The new miniature is still in the design phase according to Wager, but the group is making steady progress.
The newest aspect of Team Mini is the incorporation of VEX Robotics. VEX Robotics is a company that provides robotic parts to students, as well as adults, that are easy to use and a great gateway into the world of robotics.
“It was sort of a natural progression of let’s expand our robotic expertise by getting involved in it,” Tryon said.
The group is busy registering a team with VEX as well as planning a tournament for November.
“We’re holding the Oswego Nor’easter VEX Robotics Competition on Nov. 16,” said Wager. The competition is set to host 16 local high schools.
Wager also hopes the addition of the VEX Robotics aspect of the club will serve to pique the interest of other students who may not be initially interested in the club.
“It is a group for everybody,” he said. “We’re really looking to pull more people in from any major who want to come out and play with robots.”