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.