FRC begins build season

February 13, 2018 — by Allen Chen

After struggling with timing last year due to lack of participation and coordination, the M-SET Fish, or Team 649, are back in the lab, building a new robot.

The build season began with the competition kickoff on Jan. 6, when the tournament was announced and Kickoff Kits, or kits filled with basic robot parts, were distributed.

This year’s theme will be “Power Up.” Robots are pitted against one another in a race to deliver “power cubes,” large cloth covered crates, to specific locations on a field. All the boxes are 13” by 13” by 11” and weigh 67 pounds.

By competition rules,  teams will have until Feb. 21 to finish building their robot, essentially an arm on a moving linear lift. Afterwards, the robots will be “bagged and tagged,” and the main games will begin across the country.

Although there are small scrimmages before “bagging”, the official tournaments don’t begin until Feb. 28. The first official tournament M-SET Fish will go to is the San Francisco regional, at St. Ignatius College Preparatory on March 15.

Despite the solid start to the season, keeping on schedule has always been an issue for the team.

“We always make a schedule, but it always seems to happen that we fall behind schedule because of some unforeseen circumstances,” said junior Akhilesh Bellathur.

More participation and engagement would also help with timing, Bellathur added.  So far this year, the team is pushing through their obstacles to go faster than ever, and the building process is going smoother.

“I think we’re doing a little better than last year time-wise,” said junior Ian Le. “We’ve been more focused in terms of design.”

The team, composed of 55 people, feels more confident about their chances at attaining their goals this year. This is due in part to more experience of returning members, who can lead the team through building season. In a typical work session, the team can get over five hours of work done depending on the circumstances. The team often racks up about 30 hours of work time a week.

Because they feel pretty confident with the ability of their team, junior Ankur Garg said they are experimenting with new designs.

“Our design this year is pretty ambitious, so we’re a little worried about it not working at all,” Garg said. “But if it works out, we’re pretty confident it’ll be nice.”

The goals for this season go far past the goals of last year, which was to be front-row captains, or placing top five in regionals.

“This year, we want to be front-row captains, we want to win regionals, and our end goal would definitely be to go to worlds,” Le said.


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