This past Saturday’s kickoff event marked the beginning of our 2021 build season! Since the FIRST season will be different from last year, the team did not hold kickoff in person, as we have done in previous years. Instead, all team members, along with mentors and alumni, watched the FIRST Robotics Infinite Recharge Kickoff Livestream on a zoom call together. Due to the abrupt ending of last year’s game, FIRST made the tough decision not to release a new game this year. Instead, they released an updated version of last year’s competition with new challenges that can be done virtually.
The team split up into different breakout rooms, one with new members and one with veteran members. Mentors were divided equally among each group to help ensure the conversations ran smoothly. In each room, the groups discussed the necessary information about the game. The new members went over the 2021 Infinite Recharge game manual. Together we read the layout of the game rules and how it would work. We then took turns reading the game’s objective and discussed essential vocabulary like power cells (balls), ‘power port,’ and shield generator (structure to climb on). Additionally, the new members read about safety rules and appropriate behavior at events. On the other hand, the veteran group analyzed a summary of the changes put into effect this season. After that, we looked over the three new challenges FIRST will be offering for the 2021 season (explained down below) and discussed the potential ones we will be competing in. Finally, the veteran members did a brief overview of how awards were adapted for this season.
Game Design Challenge: The Game Design Challenge allows teams to compete against each other by creating a FIRST Robotics Competition game design. Each year FIRST presents a new game design to the community to be played worldwide. This year, teams will have the chance to create their own game concept. Teams will present their plans to the judges, determining whether they will move on to the competition’s next stage. Game creations or elements from winning teams could be used in future years! This challenge is an excellent alternative for teams who must meet virtually.
Infinite Recharge at Home: Infinite Recharge at Home is a challenge with two ways for teams to engage: Compete for judged awards or compete in a Skills competition. In the judged awards process, teams can participate in an interview with a panel of FIRST Robotics Competition judges. The interview will consist of a presentation covering specifics about the robot and design process, followed by the judges’ questions. The Skills Competition consists of 5 challenges inspired by Infinite Recharge. Teams will attempt shooting challenges with their robot, as well as other various ‘skills challenges.’ Each team is awarded points towards their overall score for the challenges they choose to compete in.
Innovation Challenge: The Innovation Challenge allows teams to invent a robot to solve a real-world issue identified by the team. Using STEM and FIRST’s Game Changers, teams are asked to design a robot to develop a solution for the situation they identify. In addition to aligning with FIRST’s Game Changers, this problem/solution should push society forward and include physical and/or mental health improvements. Teams will craft a business model and develop a pitch to present to FIRST judges, all for a chance to be invited to the FIRST Global Innovation Awards. At the Awards, teams will participate in workshops, receive mentorship, and show off their inventions.