LHS Robotics Team F.A.Q.s

What does our robotics teams do: The main focus is to design, build and compete in challenges with a robot. Doing this requires many different jobs including team leaders, CAD/design, mechanics, electronics, pneumatics, programming, robot drivers, safety, record-keeping, team spirit, publicity, administration, video production, website and more. Students can choose to participate in any or all of these ways.

Who can be on this team: Any Edmonds School District student ages 14 to 19 with an ASB card. Good behavior and passing grades are required to attend competitions.

How many members on a team: A minimum of 4 students and 1 mentor are required to start a team. Teams range anywhere from 4-60 (or more) students with 1-20 (or more) mentors.

Who leads the team: Ideally the team is led by the students with mentors assisting. Team leadership positions are voted on by the members each May. Build jobs are voted on prior to that build season.

Do I have to have skills already: That is certainly useful and welcome, but you can learn “on the job” as well. Mainly you just have to be willing to participate and learn. Our team has a comprehensive training program that we do each Fall.

What is a mentor: A mentor is a volunteer adult advisor. They can help with engineering, programming, general organization, marketing, fundraising, etc.

How often does the team meet: The robotics team meets year-round, but the frequency changes. Schedules are set by the team and the coaches. In general, the team meets about twice a week in the Fall and Spring. During the FRC build (Jan-Feb) the shop is in use nearly daily and members come as much as they can. There may be training or outreach projects over the summer.

What is FIRST: FIRST is an organization that puts together robotics competitions (see partners section for more info). They run several different leagues: FIRST Lego League (FLL and JrFLL) for elementary and middle school age students doing Lego robots and motorized displays, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) for middle and high school students doing 18 inch Tetrix robots and FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) for high school students doing 5-foot tall robots using industry standard materials. FIRST’s goal is to promote interest by students in STEM education and careers in science and technology.

What is MATE: MATE is an organization that puts together ROV competitions (see partners section for more info). They put together Regional and International competitions for underwater ROVs. MATE’s goal is to promote student interest in STEM education and careers in marine engineering.

What and when is “The Build”: “The Build” is what teams call the period of time they get to design and make their robot or ROV. It is an extremely busy and intense time. The FRC Build starts following Kick-off on the first Saturday in January and goes 6 weeks. Teams meet often, if not daily, during the build with long days usually happening right before ship date. The FTC build goes from Sep-Dec, with the team meeting twice a week at first and daily for the final week. MATE ROV challenge is announced in January, but because of FRC our team doesn’t start the ROV build until March, the team meets similar to FTC (twice a week, then daily for final week). The ROV competition is in May.

How do you make a robot: You start with the design the team comes up with and add parts accordingly, trying to stay within budget and competition guidelines. There is a fair amount of trial and error and problem-solving when designs don’t quite transfer smoothly into reality. This is where mentors come in really handy.

What about costs: An estimate is that it takes $10,000 for a team to enter ONE FRC regional. It is another $5,000 to go to a 2nd regional and double all that to go to the international competition. FTC costs about $3,000 and ROV is about $1,000. Our team gets a lot of help from sponsors in our community. Our team also does an annual fundraiser. There may also be some member charges to cover travel costs, meals, T-shirts, etc., but there is assistance available through the LHS booster club for those that need it.

When and where are the competitions: FLL & FTC competitions are in Dec/Jan and FRC regionals are in March, with Internationals in April. There are regional competitions all over the U.S. The closest ones to us are Seattle, Spokane and Portland. FLL and FTC competitions are usually held at local schools, and FRC is usually done at large arenas.

What is a FIRST competition like: FLL and FTC competitions last 1 day. FRC Competitions last 3 days. There is a PIT area where teams work on their robots between rounds. Rounds have two Alliances (sets of teams that work together) that oppose each other. Points are awarded for success or taken away as penalties. At FRc, there are preliminary rounds on the first day for team practice, ranking rounds on 2nd day and half of 3rd day, then final rounds where the winners are determined. It is Fast, it is Furious and it is FUN!