We’ve all seen it: Terminator-esque robots conquering the world, leaving a path of destruction wherever they go. With countless shows and movies portraying robots as our inevitable extinction, it’s not hard to picture. However, robots also have many benefits. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that tries to bring light to this. There are over 3,000 teams across the world participating in their own upper divisions, with our very own team 997 representing Corvallis High School.
Every year, FIRST teams are given six weeks to construct a robot to participate in a themed competition. The objectives of the competition change with every new season, keeping it fresh and exciting for both seasoned and incoming participants. Last year’s theme encompassed the steampunk era, this year’s theme revolved around arcade games, and next year’s game sends ambitious teams into deep space. Team 997 has been participating in these competitions ever since 2002, and they have evolved into a well-established group of around forty members.
FIRST is about more than just competitions, though. Teams are encouraged to operate on a level beyond the scope of simply building robots, with specialized subteams such as Marketing and Business helping to bring recognition and prestige to their team. Furthermore, a key part of FIRST is outreach. Spartan Robotics has run several volunteer events, including helping aspiring young women connect with professionals in STEM fields, hosting demonstrations teaching the next generation of curious minds about robotics, or even running an annual scrimmage event to help local teams prepare for the upcoming seasons.
This year, Spartan Robotics had a jam-packed season. After weeks of hard work, they produced a versatile and robust robot ready to compete in this year’s challenge. Their bot was put to the test and, despite many challenges, they finished high in their two qualifying competitions and made it to district championships. They also won Best Practices award, which recognizes a team that has many positive aspects and is overall well-rounded. Now that the competitive season has concluded, they plan on spending the next few months doing more outreach, several projects to improve future bots, and preparing to train and integrate new students.
Another crucial part to managing any robotics team is making sure to always have new recruits. On May 15th, from 5 to 6PM, there will be an open house in T16 for interested students. The event will introduce newcomers to many of the aspects of our team not discussed within this article. No matter your background or interests, there is something for everyone in robotics. Ultimately, FIRST is about uniting students over a love for robots (and maybe a little world domination, too).