2018, February, Student Life, Robotics Begins, Padhi

MechaRAMS preparing for this years game, Power Up

by Shivani Padhi, 2018 (posted 2-20-18)

On January 6th, 2018, MechaRAMS, the Cheshire High School’s robotics team and other teams from different schools congregated for kickoff of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). The kickoff unveils the game of the year through a live stream and reveals the game’s rules and regulations.

This year’s game is called, “Power Up.” Like every other year, this year’s game will also encompass two alliance teams. However, in this year’s game, each alliance must work together to ultimately gain ownership of the field. In order to gain ownership of the field, teams must collect power cubes from the power cube zone (see picture) and place them on a balancing scale located in the null territory (see picture), which lies on the middle of the field.

Along with the game and its interesting concepts, the game field this year also is very unique as it resembles a retro 8-bit theme similar to a Super Mario Bros video game.

                 To get a better understanding of the game, a picture of the game field has been added.
                                                        Courtesy of FIRST®

Right now, we are in the midst of the 6 week build season, and we are continuing to make progress and continue building our competition and sister bots. The purpose of the sister bot is to perform trials and practice driving and maneuvering when the competition robot has been bagged and tagged. The bag and tag day for the 2018 build season is on February 20th at midnight. Once the robot has been bagged up and sealed, it can no longer be opened until competition time and that is mainly where the sister bot comes in handy. Since there is usually a week or so between the bag and tag day and the real competition day, the driving team continues driving the sister bot so their maneuvering skills are near perfection. We use our sister bot as a testing bot so we can create the best highly-functioning competition bot!

During the build season, apart from actually constructing the sister bot and the competition robot, other groups such as programming, engineering, CAD design, and manufacturing also pitch in to construct prototypes of the robot. Without the cooperation of all the different teams, a well-functioning robot is almost impossible to construct. As a robotics team under FRC, not only do teams demonstrate cooperation during competition, but also within their own high school team members and mentors.

                                                2018 MechaRAMS Team Members

Along with the rigorous workload behind constructing a functional robot, a lot of team bonding occurs over the six weeks. Every evening and every weekend, the member of MechaRAMS assemble in the basement of Cheshire High School to work on some part of the robot, whether it be building, prototyping, or public relations. With the endless hours of working together, team bonding inevitably occurs. As we work, we tell each other jokes, we take pictures, we eat snacks and even occasionally rock on to music. Although we are serious when building, but we never forget one of the most important rules of FRC, which is to have FUN! To corroborate the atmosphere found within our team, a new member, Kate Warzycha, class of 2021, said that she likes being in MechaRAMS robotics team because it is “fun and has a very amiable vibe.” She also enjoys this team because it is a place that “highlights her strengths and gives her the freedom to get creative in STEM fields.”

With our hard work and effort put into the robots we build each year, lots of sponsorships are needed. Each build season, using the tools needed, the robot costs around two to five thousand dollars. In order to build a robot, we are heavily dependent on our sponsors and their donations and as well as our amazing voluntary mentors. The donations we get from our sponsors are used in buying parts of the robot, including hardware, tools, electronics components, and metal to build the actual robot. Team 999 would not be successful without the support of Cheshire Public Schools and Cheshire High School, grants from United Technologies, Parker, Lockheed Martin, Stanley Black and Decker and our many local sponsors. Without these companies supporting us, we would not have been successful in becoming semifinalist in the Archimedes Division with alliances team 180, 3166 and 3211 at the World Championships in St. Louis in 2016. We really value our sponsors and hope to gain more sponsors in the years to come, so that we can continue our passion for STEM and encourage others to pursue STEM. To truly appreciate our sponsors, we put their company logo on the back our competition t-shirts based on their donation size. In the future, our goal is to fill our entire back of the t-shirt with supportive sponsors!

MechaRAMS team 999 needs your support, whether it be supporting us at the upcoming Waterbury and Hartford competition or by becoming sponsors. Your support is greatly appreciated. As a team, we hope to see you on the stands as we are competing at Waterbury and Hartford or on March 17, 2018 at the Discovery Expo at Cheshire High School.

more specific information about our team, how to become sponsors, giving donations, getting more specifics on this year’s game, Power Up, or even upcoming information match schedule, visit our website at http://frcteam999.com/

Follow our daily progress on our robots and upcoming matches through our Twitter: @FIRSTTeam999 and our Facebook page: @CheshireMechaRams