I'm sitting there in the stands watching as the match starts. It's the 2019 Forest Hills tournament in Michigan. As the sandstorm begins our robot moves to place a hatch panel but not this round, it sits there idle. I watch thinking maybe nothing’s wrong, maybe, but as the sandstorm period ends it's still sitting there. The controls system advisors come over to help troubleshoot and figure out what is wrong with the robot. The light is on, it has power, so what is wrong with it? Computer issue? Driver Station malfunction? As the match nears the end there are still no answers and it still has not moved. I sat on the edge of my seat ready to sprint down the bleachers as soon as the match ended to help in any way I could.
My name is Bridget, and I am a member of That ONE Team, Our Next Engineers. This is my 3rd year in FIRSTⓇ. As I sat trying to write about how FIRST had impacted me, I was not feeling it and with the deadline fast approaching and gone, to get it turned in I settled on my story, my FIRST story, which in a way could be an impact story.
As I look back, FIRST was everywhere and I never noticed. When my family went to Washington DC for a conference there was a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team there that let us drive their robots and raffled off LEGOⓇ Mindstorms robots (one of which I won and still have). The summer after 6th grade I went to a STEPS camp for girls, where we built model planes and there was a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team there showing off one of their robots and letting us drive it and shoot a ball. When I was in 8th grade I joined a robotics class where we learned how to build and program LEGO Mindstorms. During this class That ONE Team came and showed the 2018 robot that played on the Einstein field at Championships. But all I cared about was the robot and how badly I wanted to know if the green compliant wheels were squishy or hard. So I grabbed a business card and off I went.
In September of my freshman year of high school I had completely forgotten about the team I so wanted to join until my dad had asked if I wanted to join Odyssey of the Mind that year, and remembered about the business card and contacted the team. From there I attended meetings and found out that the green wheels on the robot were in fact squishy. My freshman year I was on the fabrication team and soaked up as much information that I possibly could about how the robot worked, how to fix it, and how to build it. That year I learned many important lessons and skills that I still use today.
The second year, I took up the lead role on the fabrication sub team. Even though as a leadership team we didn't set anyone to be in charge of a set subteam, we all assigned ourselves to the group we were on and took charge. I helped build the timeline and give everyone tasks. That year (2020) we had a lot of new students and fell behind in our time line. We got the robot done mostly on time and had a competition in Canada before COVID-19 shut down the world.
This year (2021) I learned alot about the timeline, how important deadlines are plus how fast they pass, how to run a standup meeting, and how to keep everyone engaged, attach the radio to the robot with something more than the dual lock, and that Zoom sucks. This was my third year and my team was fortunate enough to be able to meet in person without a COVID outbreak within the team. I took on the new responsibility of co-captain, with the other being one of my best friends, Anna. Together we continue perfecting the art of standup meetings and adapting them to meet the needs of the team. I also continued to help lead the fabrication team. This season we still had issues trying to meet deadlines, but got the robot done with its fair share of issues and with barely enough time to get the videos submitted for the Infinite Recharge at Home judged awards. Though we did not get to go to a tournament this year, it was still one full of learning.
As I am looking into my 4th and final season on the team as a student, I am looking forward to an off season competition that we are attending and the hope of in-person tournaments and attending worlds.
This blog was written by Bridget L. from FRC team 4967. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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