What do we do?
Every year, we spend about a month and a half building a robot from scratch to participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition (or FRC), an internationally recognized program for high school students. On the first Saturday of January, FIRST, an organization that creates robotics competitions for students K-12, reveals the FRC game for the coming season in an event known as “kickoff”. At first glance, these games seem similar to any other sport; players may need to throw or transport game pieces (like balls or frisbees), perform athletic feats (like climbing), work with a team, and even play defense to score points and secure a victory. The key difference, however, is that the players must be robots. Teams therefore must build a new robot every year that can complete certain tasks and work with other robots to earn points. In the six weeks after kickoff, known as build season, we construct one such robot.
After that, we attend regional competitions. These typically take place over 2-3 days and comprise over 60 teams. The first matches that we play are qualification rounds, in which we are randomly assigned to an alliance with two other teams to play against another three-team alliance. The 8 individual teams that win the most matches in the qualification rounds then select two alliance partners each with which to compete in the playoffs. Teams that succeed in the playoff rounds qualify for one of two FRC International Championships.
We spend the rest of the year performing outreach, fundraising, and working with other teams. We frequently perform demos at local schools and events, and we have also served as instructors or mentors to youth interested in STEM. Additionally, we are affiliated with the St. Paul HUB, an alliance of St. Paul-area robotics teams, as well as the newly formed St. Paul Urban Robotics League, an organization comprised of student leaders on robotics teams throughout the metro area.