Our main competition is the FIRST Robotics Competition, a varsity sport for the mind that serves as a platform to real-world engineering. FRC introduces students to the rewarding and tough facets of engineering. Each year, a challenging game based on a common sport is released. Over 2,500 teams each year build a robot tailored to the year’s game conditions. This year’s game is Aerial Assist.
During a match, a team is comprised of an alliance of three teams. The alliances are randomly selected during the qualification matches, meaning that the robot you were competing against in one match could very well be your ally in the next. Giving a new dimension to “winning,” the partnerships and bonds made during FRC far outweigh the superficial aspect of scoring points.
FRC has a build season that spans six weeks. The competition robot must be built within those six weeks, and “bagged and tagged” on the last day of build season. Every member in our team is mandated to commit at least 20 hours a week during build season. Operating under a time frame and limited resources, students and mentors are challenged to design a robot that fulfills the year’s game conditions and rules.
FRC is not only unique in its integration of STEM and athletics, but also in the lessons that it teaches. Team members learn the importance of working together and integrating their respective skill sets. Most importantly, we are provided with a realistic engineering experience. We are taught the importance of budgeting and finding funding. An FRC team is analogous to a company, and building an FRC robot is expensive: registration at a regional costs $5,000 alone and yields a basic kit of parts, and our own custom parts can cost us upwards of $3,000.