Rochester Robotics Update: A Preview of the Upcoming Competition Season

All Photos courtesy of Rochester Robotics and Mrs. Jessica Gupta

Violet Resh, Copy Editor

The typical robotics calendar gets busy around Build Season, as teams start constructing their robots which will compete against other schools’ robots in competitions at the regional, state, and national levels. Depending on how many points a team gets at these competitions in relation to others, determines whether they qualify or not.

“Ranking points are earned by teams through winning matches throughout divisionals and states, by being able to accomplish certain tasks within matches and by winning certain awards,” parent mentor Mrs. Jessica Gupta said. “For instance, since we won some matches at Southfield and won a Gracious Professionalism award, we have earned a total of 32 ranking points so far.”

Since the stakes are so high to advance in the competitions, teams set to work early and put in countless hours in order to finish the job.

“Competition season is always really busy for us since we are only given 6 weeks to build a robot,” senior member Alex Maxim said. “We get all the rules for the game of that year in January and spend the following weeks brainstorming and creating a CAD design, building parts, and wiring and programming the robot.”

The students use real-world technology programs with the help of their mentors to design, construct and program their robot.

“Our team is honored to have almost 20 mentors from various professions who share their expertise with students, including engineering, machining, programming, business, project management and social work,” Mrs. Gupta said.

Through working with the resources they do, students get a better understanding of possible career environments and fields. The technical aspect of the robotics team serves as a way for students to see what engineering and programming is all about.

“We currently have 5 mentors who graduated from our program in the past 5 years,” Mrs. Gupta said, “and are now pursuing STEM degrees at area colleges.”

Not only does robotics offer a developed understanding of the sciences, but it allows students to get involved in various other activities all related to the team. The conception that the team is only about programming and building the robot is something the team would like to change because they offer so much more.

“Many people think robotics is just for students who want to be an engineer or a programmer but that is not the case with FIRST robotics programs,” Mrs. Gupta said. “Our team has extremely active business, PR, safety, awards and spirit groups that work to maintain our team’s image, presence in the community and safe practices.”

All these different elements of the team come together to create the finished project. Part of this is the Chairman’s Presentation, a submission for the highest award in robotics. This award rewards the model team who has made a positive effort on their community in term of science and technology.

“This year, our team’s Chairman’s group worked diligently to submit 13 short essays and one long essay showing how the FEDS have transformed the culture in ways that will inspire greater interest in STEM as ‘Agents of Change’ in the community,” Mrs. Gupta said.

A key element about the Chairman’s group this year emphasized the efforts the Rochester robotics team put towards connecting with the youth and showing them what programs like robotics has to offer.

“Over the past 21 years that we have been a team,” Maxim said, “We’ve had many ups and downs but our recent work with the teams at Reuther and several elementary schools around the district along with other community activities have opened many new doors for us.”

The hours put into these activities all cumulates in the competitions.

“Competitions have a really great atmosphere where we have specific team chants and banners that really help bring us together to cheer on our robot,” Maxim said.

Seeing all the work done over the build season come together, is very rewarding to the team and that is seen in the energy they bring in the crowd.

“Competitions are where all of the training, design and build process culminate,” Mrs. Gupta said, “And require us to work collaboratively to achieve something great, a collective aim that brings us closer together in the process.”