What is MTRAS?
Founded in early 2007, Middle Tennessee Robotic Arts Society (MTRAS) is a group of makers with varying levels of experience and education from novice to pro. While our emphasis is on robotics, our members span many interests and projects from combat robots to interactive art exhibits. This works perfectly for us as robots aren't just devices that look like BB8 or C3PO but are electro-mechanical devices and systems that interact in the world. At the heart of our group is STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Robotics by nature is a multi-disciplinary tool that offers the opportunity to hone skills in electronics, mechanics, coding, project planning and management, team building and communication. However, any complex project also requires imagination and creativity to complete. I think this is why we have seen such a wide array of people at our meetings over the years. Though it may not seem this way on the surface, there really is something for every one.
MTRAS is an all volunteer "no profit" group. We do not collect dues or fees to be a member and we are not a non-profit or a for-profit organization. As such, members who consider themselves members ARE members.
Meeting Style and Location
We meet on the 3rd Saturday of each month at the Adventure Science Center and our meetings are typically in a show-and-tell format. We start our meetings discussing upcoming events/projects and then pass it off to members. Members can bring projects that they are working on in to present or ask for help with. We encourage meeting participants to bring in projects or to pose a topic for discussion. One of the great things about our club is everyone regardless of age or experience gets a chance to have the floor.
In addition to our monthly meetings, we also collaborate online through our website, our Facebook page, and our Meetup group. Throughout the year, we have member driven workshops where members teach other members how to do certain tasks or, in the case of our most recent workshop series, we hosted a 13 week online workshop to demonstrate working with electronics, coding and IoT.
Collaboration With The Adventure Science Center
We help support the Adventure Science Center by setting up a presentation table during special events throughout the year. These events include Engineering Day, Robotics Week, Whistle Stop (all about trains but somehow we fit in), Earth Day, etc. We help out every year by demonstrating quick how-to sessions like the parts of a robot arm or teaching kids how to make LED holiday ornaments. Every year that it was available, we have participated in the Nashville Mini Maker Faire and other similar events.
- February 2007 - "Nashville Robotics" founded by Jessica Flowers and Scott Savage. The first meeting was on Feb 17.
- April 2007 - The Adventure Science Center became the official home of "Nashville Robotics"
- July 2007 - The name Greater Nashville Area Robotic Arts Society was floated as the permanent club name.
- August 2007 - At the August meeting several names were suggested and voted on with Middle Tennessee Robotic Arts Society (MTRAS) winning the vote by a wide margin. This has been the name of the group to this day.
- September 2014 - First Nashville Mini-Maker Faire event at the Adventure Science Center hosted by Make Nashville and the Adventure Science Center.
- February 2017 - Engineered for Destruction was created by a group of members for host combat robot events. This was wildly popular with our first event drawing over 350 spectators.
- March 2020 - With the advent of Coronavirus and the shutdown of the ASC, MTRAS went virtual by hosting our meetings and workshops online. While we have returned to the ASC for our monthly events, we still have occasional online workshops that tend to be more accessible for our widely dispersed members.
MTRAS is an all volunteer effort and as such, we depend on the generosity of our members who devote their time to help forward our mission of advancing interest and education in the field of robotics. First and foremost, we hope each of our members enjoy and share our community. If you regularly attend meetings and would like to participate more, then please consider the following additional ways you can contribute to the group.
- Show and Tell - Bring your projects, even if they aren't complete, for show and tell during the monthly meetings. Others will likely learn from your work and might also be able to help you with yours.
- Host a Workshop - Have a talent with a particular subject and would like to share some tips and how-to advice with others? Please CONTACT US with your workshop ideas!
- Help Out with an Event - Throughout the year our group will participate in area events and presentations. Please see this area for Volunteer Opportunities.
NOTE: Please take see our Events Page to see if we have a workshop scheduled. Since the pandemic begain, we have moved most of our workshops and non-meeting events online.
Our afternoon workshop time has no set format and can include the following. It is also possible that we will not hold a workshop. Please check our website calendar and Meetup page for workshop details.
- Formal Workshop Training - Some of our members volunteer their time and knowledge to help others by hosting a training workshop. These can be one day events or span multiple workshops and can range in topics.
- Group Projects - If the group doesn't have a formal workshop scheduled, we will often use the workshop time to work on group projects.
- Freeform Project Work - If there are no workshops or group projects we may leave the room available for independent work and networking.
Our monthly meetings follow the format below. On occasion, we will deviate from this format but only if our meetings coincide with another event. In those cases, our meetings may be cancelled or the location altered. We will update our website and social media accounts with upcoming meeting information.
- Pre-Meeting Networking and Project Setup - The first 15 minutes of our meeting time is for networking and prep time for those who bring show and tell items.
- Welcome / Announcements - We begin each meeting with announcements of upcoming events, group projects if any and other local related interests. We also invite members to share any other local events that may not have been covered.
- Show and Tell - Members can use this time to present both completed and in-progress projects to the group. Usually after each presentation there is a short Q & A with the presenter.
- Workshop Description - If we are conducting an afternoon workshop, we will describe it as a reminder before we break for networking and lunch.
- Networking - If time remains before we break for lunch, everyone is encouraged to talk to other members about their projects, ask questions or just get to know each other.
Yes! We have several younger Makers as members ranging from 7 up. For younger children (under 14) we ask that you attend with them for safety.
We recommend that anyone with children interested in the subject attend our next meeting to see if we are a good fit for you. All you would need to bring is curiosity.
No. There are no fees or dues to be a member as we are all volunteer. When attending the MTRAS meetings you do not have to pay to get into the Science Center as long as you are only attending our meetings and workshops. However, if you do visit the rest of the Center after the meetings, we ask that you pay for admission since they are a great non-profit who are generously donating space for our meetings.
***NOTE: When attending meetings, please sign in and get an arm band from a small table to the right as you enter enter the Science Center.
There are only two requirements for being a member of the Middle Tennessee Robotic Arts Society:
- Interest - you need to have an interest in robotics. Interest does not equal proficient.
- Participation - you should participate in the group. Members do not have to attend the meetings to be members but we certainly encourage your attendance. Many of our members do not live close to our meeting place and choose to interact with others online through one of our social media accounts.
We are a come as you are, no experience necessary group. While our focus is on robotics, we love making all sorts of things and our members have a wide range of experience from none to professional. Our only real requirement is that visitors and members have an interest in robotics, electronics, mechanics, programming, and / or some other maker talent.
We have received numous requests for individual tutoring and while we would love to be able to accomodate each of these requests unfortunately this is not possible from the group. We do offer workshops on various topics from time to time, we are not a professional training resource.
You might find that there are members who may offer some limited help with projects, however. We invite you to visit one of our meetings and meet the members. You will have the opportunity give details about your questions or projects and during the meetings or online, people tend to offer advice and suggestions for tools, resources, and best practices freely.
We have received numous requests for the group to visit and present to schools and while we would love to be able to accomodate each of these requests unfortunately, this may not be possible. We have, in the past, visited some schools for special events when there were members who could accomodate the scheduling requirements. Since most of our members have "day jobs" this can be difficult to do.
If you would like to request that a member visit your school's special event, please visit one of our meetings and meet the members. You will have the opportunity give details about your event and we will add the details to our website and social media pages for others to see. While you could contact us through the form on our site, making an appearance may better connect you with someone who is willing to help.
First, THANK YOU!
If you would like to offer to sponsor an event, project or the group in general, please contact us with the details of your offer. We are not a non-profit and as such a gift to us cannot be used as a taxable donation. However, we can offer to add your company inforation to our website and promotional materials. Some companies have offered discounts on their goods and services while others have donated prizes for our competition winners.