Robotics kickoff marks the start of build season


Provided by Gloria Zhu

Robotics members Tanay Sharma (11), Gary Ding (11), Will Lee (11), Nolan Dagum (9), and Agastya Ravuri (9) consider potential features for the robot on a whiteboard. At the kickoff, groups brainstormed design ideas for competition and later presented their concepts.

by Margaret Cartee and Sabrina Zhu

Harker Robotics hosted a kickoff marking the beginning of the build season for about 40 members in the Nichols atrium from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 8. 

To start the kickoff, members watched a livestream announcing the game and began devising strategies for build season, which is the 10-week time period when the team (FRC 1072) focuses on building and designing the robot to prepare it for competition. 

This year’s game, which will be used at upcoming competitions in March and April, is called “Rapid React,” featuring three different sections and multiple challenges that robots will have to overcome in order to amass points. Robots can try to score points by shooting balls into two hoops in the first two minutes and 30 seconds of the game, but for the first 15 seconds, the robot is autonomous and cannot be controlled by the drivers. With remaining time at the end, robots pull themselves up higher and higher bars, with each bar rewarding teams with more points. 

After watching the livestream, members split up into smaller groups to draft ideas for the robot, including the required features and any additional designs they could implement with extra time.

“Kickoff is the opportunity for everyone to learn what the game is and we begin devising our strategy for the game,” Design Director Alex Liou (12) said. “Strategy drives design.”

Afterwards, members played Kahoot, quizzing each other about robot requirements for competition, such as technical fouls and the maximum length of a robot extension. After taking a lunch break, groups presented their plans along with design concepts. I think the most enjoyable part [of the kickoff] was being able to talk with my fellow robotics team members because we all have super unique ideas, and it’s very interesting to know what other people are thinking,” robotics member Yifan Li (9) said.

Robotics members Nolan Dagum (9) and Gary Ding (11) compete in a Kahoot while mentor Martin Baynes observes the game. The Robotics team played Kahoot to teach members about game rules and requirements. (Provided by Gloria Zhu)

The team will be building their robot in preparation for the Sacramento Regional and Silicon Valley Regional competitions, which will be held from March 23 to 26 and April 7 to 10, respectively. FRC 1072 is split up into the mechanical and machining, software, design and electrical sub-teams and plans to meet every day after school for the next 10 weeks as they finalize their designs and practice driving.

“Our highest priority is developing our robot,” Angela Jia (12), Executive President and team captain, said. “Each sub-team has their own agenda each day, and we have a lot of intercepting communication to make sure everyone’s kind of working cohesively towards that same goal of developing our robot.”

The leadership team hopes underclassmen interested in computer science and hardware can explore their interests through joining the robotics team.

“These are people you’re developing alongside and their passion is really infectious,” Angela said. “It really makes you more excited to be a part of the team. I feel like robotics is really all about how much you put in is what you take out.”