Power tools blare in the background as you try to talk code programming to someone you met 15 minutes ago. This is FIRST Robotics, a chaotic and turbulent program that is hosting their regional competition in Duluth, MN this year. Today was the first day of the competition, and while hectic, it’s nothing compared to the upcoming days. The loud speakers will blare louder tomorrow as teams search for lost or needed parts, people will be racing between booths in search of team members, and shouts of joy will be heard all over the arena as qualification matches begin.
This morning started off with an early wake up for the 123 FRC teams staying in Duluth. These teenagers and their mentors walked the skyways of Duluth to the DECC Arena with adrenaline beginning to run through their veins in anticipation of the difficult day ahead of them.
Today’s practice matches allowed the teams to build their robots, test them, and then start all over again. With all of the work put into these robots, you can understand how exhausted participants become at the end of the day, let alone at the end of the competition. While walking the pit area, you can see people with grease wiped on their pants and faces along with band aids covering their fingers. Closed toed shoes and safety glasses are required almost everywhere in the arena due to the close proximity people get to these monster robots.
Teams walk the pit area and survey designs of other teams’ robots. If they think that they could benefit from these designs, they talk with that team and share ideas; this is a key example of FIRST Robotics value of coopertition. Coopertition promotes the value of collaboration while introducing a healthy dose of competition. Today’s reconstruction of robots prepares them for tomorrow’s qualification matches.
Article by: Maeve McGuire
Photos by: Sam Kuutti and Colin Kealey-Swenson