Throughout the summer, our team is constantly fundraising, sponsor scouting, and participating in community events to prepare for the next Build Season. Our meeting schedule during the summer is fairly relaxed but regular.
Starting in early October, we begin preparing for the new season by recruiting and interviewing potential members. This involves student made video advertisements, posters, and presentations to freshmen classes. Once the team is formed we train in our new recruits, maintain old robots, give presentations to the community, and seek potential sponsors to raise funds for the upcoming Build Season.
Every year NASA hosts a Kickoff for the First Robotics Competition Build Season on the first Saturday in January. Teams gather to watch a live video feed that informs them of the year’s new challenge. This then starts the six-week build period.
On the day of Kickoff, our team traditionally has a twelve-hour brainstorming session where we design our 120-pound robot and decide what types of goals we would like to accomplish for the given challenge. This involves breaking up into randomly selected small groups (all departments are involved) which then create proposals and whiteboard sketches to present to the large group once we reconvene.
After the brainstorming is over, our team switches to an intense five day schedule, with Build often meeting on weekends to maximize machine shop time. The remaining departments use this five day a week time frame to prepare for the upcoming competition, funding, reservations, press releases etc. We also typically set one evening of each week aside for pizza or some other form of dinner to allow team members to catch up and converse.
In addition to competing in regionals, we are the host team of the Northern Lights Regional which is held at the DECC in mid-March. During the competition season our team meets regularly every week (depending on what needs to be accomplished).
At each regional, we cheer loudly, keep up maintenance on the robot, update the press using videos, photos and press releases, as well as strategize about potential alliance members. Our team uses Windows Surfaces for data taking, utilizing a custom app allowing for easy and convenient data input which is later compiled into spreadsheets and graphs.
First World Championship
Held this year in St. Louis, MO, and Houston, TX the FIRST Robotics World Championship are the two final competitions of the season, where teams from all over the world participate. These event also serve as the championship for the Jr. FIRST LEGO® League (Jr. FLL), FIRST LEGO® League (FLL), and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) programs.
They consists of four incredibly demanding and rewarding days of working on the robot, strategizing, competing against amazing teams, and meeting people from around the world.