The varsity Sport for the MindTM, FRC combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real-world engineering” as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.

FIRST Robotics challenges students to design, fabricate, and build a robot in six weeks from a standard kit of parts. At the beginning of January, our team attends a live satellite feed sponsored by NASA, where we learn what the challenge will be. Here we are given constraints, or limitations, such as material usage, cost, and weight limits. Once we have learned the challenge, we head back to school to begin brainstorming and designing our robot. After about the first week, we have decided what the design of our robot will be and we begin building. Six weeks after kickoff, our robot must be packaged and left untouched until our first competition.

At the competition, we compete in 8 to 12 matches that last two to three minutes depending on the “game” that year. During the match, robots interact with the game field and other robots on the field. Inevitably, things go wrong with the robots and our team must be prepared to make repairs. We bring spare parts and tools to the competitions and are allowed to work on and repair our robot during the time between matches. We must make sure that we design our robot so that it is easy to make repairs and that critical components can be accessed easily. All in all, FRC is a fun and exciting competition for our team to compete in.


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