Game Changers: 2021 FIRST Robotic Competition Season Kicks Off!

FRC Kickoff 2021On Saturday, January 9, 2021, for the first-time 50+ team members and mentors of FIRST Robotics Competition Spartronics 4915 attended a virtual kickoff for the start of the 2021 FIRST® Robotics Competition season, INFINITE RECHARGE.

From home, Spartronics teammates joined FIRST® faves from around the world, along with FIRST founder Dean Kamen, new FIRST president Larry Cohen, and special guests for the reveal of the FIRST Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm, the Game Design Challenge, INFINITE RECHARGE at Home, and other game. The Twitch TV broadcast included all the season details.

Stay tuned for our next update on the game challenges Spartronics will be participating in during our newest season – 2021!

Sponsor the Sponsors

This year, we are all aware of the challenging times in our community. Our entire team has been extra appreciative of all the community support we have received over the last seven years and are looking to pay it back. We especially appreciate our sponsors. Last season, because of the outbreak of COVID-19 and our robotics season’s suspension, we did not get to give to our sponsors all that we promised.

So, instead of asking our Sponsors to support us, we want to support them! We call it “Sponsor the Sponsors.” We are looking for ideas to help them in creative and innovative ways. Our first step: We are reaching out to all of our 2020 Spartronics Sponsors to learn what we can do as a team to help them and their businesses. We will be asking all of our supporters to help us with our “Sponsor the Sponsor” efforts. Stay tuned for more information!

All sponsors showcase

Spartronics is starting off for the first time ever online, and it is going splendidly!

Zoom screenshot of a team meeting

By Jessica Rosenfeld

At our first all-team meeting, we introduced what the year ahead would look like being online, as well as the team in general. We also gave subteam presentations to make pitches to Spartronics student members about each subteam. From there, we told everyone to expect to go into break-out rooms at the next meeting so they could learn more about each subteam.

At our second all-team “Zoom” meeting, we did just that. We made sure that everyone was well-informed on each of the subteams, and answered all questions. At the beginning of our meeting, one of our team captains, Darwin, gave a presentation about FIRST so the new members could become familiarized with FIRST Robotics.

FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Its mission is “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

Our team, Spartronics, wants to help FIRST spread this message and it all starts within each of our subteams: Electronics/Pneumatics, Programming, Fabrication, Design/CAD, and Business/Marketing.

In our last few meetings, we broke off into official subteams and got to work immediately, but before doing so, we did talk a little as a whole team about the take-home kits, which students were provided with in order to get some hands-on experience.

Coach Chee with car

In Electronics and Pneumatics, they looked at real-world jobs involving the field and gave a brief overview of what the season is going to look like this year.

Programming checked in with the students’ interests and prior experience in programming. A few icebreakers were done in the meeting so new students could become familiar with old team members and mentors.

Fabrication gave instructions about how to safely pick up the take-home kits and did some ice-breakers to get to know new team members.

Design/CAD switched CAD software from Fusion 360 to Onshape because of COVID difficulties. They started teaching the new students the CAD software so they will be prepared and ready to use it.

Business and marketing gave a quick introduction to business and marketing for the new members and did a few icebreakers. They also started dividing the work up by interest of each member and began brainstorming new ideas, one of which includes our go-to first assignment: Sponsor the Sponsors.

2020 Season Postponed after successful Glacier Peak event

ALL ROBOTICS Events Postponed until 2021

Postponed FIRST WA Events letter

FIRST WA has made the difficult decision to postpone the remainder of the 2020 PNW District events until the Fall. This means that Spartronics will not be competing in Bellingham from March 20-22, and the PNW District Championship at Eastern Washington University is also on hold until the Fall.

FIRST also has confirmed the cancellation of both World Championships in Houston and Detroit and the suspension of all FIRST Robotics events.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Bainbridge Island announced new community strategies and social distancing plans at a news conference in Seattle to minimize COVID-19 exposure. The state is prohibiting events that take place in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties with more than 250 people.

And the Bainbridge Island School District announced this afternoon that schools will be closing Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 13. BISD notes Governor Inslee told districts that they should prepare now for “the possible long-term closure of schools,” and BISD is closing schools “in order for us to continue the planning process.”

The situation is still developing, and as soon as Spartronics has clarity on our plans going forward, we will update everyone on our Website, Social Media, and in this newsletter. The Leadership Team met this afternoon and plans to continue to work remotely on our robot, ATHENA, in anticipation that we will compete this September and October. As for participation in Worlds in mid-April Houston, details are expected to be announced within the next week.

Please note that we have postponed our annual All-Robotics Open House scheduled for March also is postponed. We apologize for the late and sudden cancellations and will try to inform everyone as quickly as possible when events are rescheduled.

[Update: The 2020 Season has been postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak until 2021. More details will be posted as we reconvene later this fall.]

Spartronics Makes the Playoffs, Win Coveted “Engineering Inspiration” Award at Glacier Peak!

Spartronics had a remarkably successful Glacier Peak competition, our first of the year.

While there was certainly an array of mechanical hiccups, our robot ATHENA (Ascending Turreted Hyper Elevating Navigating Assembly) was paired with exceptional Alliances and performed admirably.

Spartronics earned a spot as seventh-ranked Alliance Captain going into eliminations matches. While our team did not make it past the quarterfinal playoff, we finished our first tournament of the year with 8 wins and only 4 losses.

The biggest news at Glacier Peak came after the matches when Spartronics won one of the highest team awards, the Engineering Inspiration Award.

Spartronics has won this coveted award 4 out of the last 6 years, and all but one (2017 Auburn Mountainview) EI award was awarded at Glacier Peak (2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020).

EI recognizes teams who are outstanding in advancing “respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community.” While we’re very proud of the efforts that earned us this honor, we would have never received this award if we were not fortunate enough to live in such an amazing and supportive community. THANK YOU!

Last but certainly not least, we have more BIG NEWS: Congratulations to team member Darwin Clark and Coach Enrique Chee for their selection as Dean’s List and Woodie Flowers Finalists, respectively. These awards both recognize individuals for their leadership and embodiment of FIRST values, and the Finalist status is a true accomplishment. More information about these awards can be found here.

Coach Chee & Darwin Clark, Congratulations!