2017 FRC Experience

It’s been another great year of competing in the First Robotics Challenge.

This is my experience of the 2017 Season as the team captain of Team 295.

The challenge this year involved shooting whiffle balls, placing clunky gears, and climbing a rope!

Learn more about the game in the video below video. I absolutely loved the offensive and defensive strategies made possible by Steamworks. It was a nice change from Recycle Rush in 2014.

After we watched the game video, we analyzed possible strategies trying to deduce what the best robot would be. It was clear a robot placing gears and climbing the airship would score the most points and be the easiest to build. But we decided to ambitiously pursue a shooting mechanism to steal away a few more extra points.

This ended up being a bad decision. We built our prototypes and fabricated the shooter until we realized the actual mechanism performance did not correlate with the prototype at all. The mechanism ended up being scrapped.

Fortunately, we are still an extremely competitive team with our climbing and gear placing mechanisms. Team 295 competed as part of the elimination rounds at the Davis and Las Vegas regionals ranking near the top 20% of the teams.

Although I have been on the team for a while, I never stop learning :) which is why I love the program.

Here’s some interesting takeaways from the season

  1. ) Plan-Bs are not meant to be Plan-As

For a six week build season, we came in without a mastery of the schedule and lost time due to inexperience with rapid prototyping and to incorrect decisions. The six weeks need to be scheduled down to a science in order to make the most of it. Making changes away from the original plan caused us to fall behind schedule and have to compensate in other areas. It is a must to plan a course of action and dedicate to it.

2. ) Everyone must know their role

Leaders must completely communicate and delegate responsibility to other leaders. This allows for more macro management rather than having to micro manage team members. This year we made the complete change over to a module system which helped share the responsibilities. Several module leads worked with the technical lead and team captain to make sure the team stayed on schedule. The system worked great this year but we can continue to improve by increasing sub module management with rosters and schedules and having a better documented workflow by utilizing something like Trello. Consequently, we were able to work more efficiently because we knew what we were in charge of and working on.

3.) Meetings are not meant to be long

Keep an Agenda for each meeting. Minimally stray from the set agenda. Schedule side discussions with just the people necessary, document the discussion, and report back with the final conclusions made from the discussion. That is all.

Team 295 Grizzly Robotics!

Thank you to all the volunteers and team members who made this program available at Granite Bay High School! It’s been an absolute blast to share so many memories with the team. Special shout out to our program lead Mr. Miller and mentors Mr. Chew, Mr. Kambe, Mr. Tak, Mr. Lutz, Mr. Shah, Mr. Romeo, Mr. Dover, Mr. Norton, and Mr.Nagle!