What does SPIKE stand for? Our team name is an acronym for Students Participating In Killer Engineering, as well as our culture statement Student driven, Pushing for better, Inspirational, Kind and Collaborative, and Entrepreneurial. We are proud to be a student-run club that teaches valuable skills related to engineering, entrepreneurship, and beyond.
What is FIRST? It is an organization that encourages students to learn about science and engineering by holding a robotics competition every year. Our particular division of FIRST is the FRC. There are currently over 3,500 FRC teams from around the world. Learn more about FRC and FIRST at https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc.
What does FIRST stand for? It stands for “For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology.”
What happens during the season? The season kicks off in January when the game is announced. After that, our team completely designs and draws parts and makes models of the robot using the online CAD (computer aided design) program Onshape. The team then fabricates these parts and builds the robot completely from scratch using state of the art machinery. Starting in March, there are regional and district events occurring every weekend for six weeks. During this time frame, members of the team also work on developing a business plan, expanding their involvement in their community, and procuring money and sponsors to finance the team’s needs. In the Mid-Atlantic Region, competitors in the MAR district championship are determined by how well the teams do in district events.
What kind of games do the robots play? The games the robots play range from launching cubes onto a giant scale, shooting giant balls over an overpass while racing around a track, or scoring balls into other robots’ trailers. The game varies from year to year and is never the same.
What happens at the competitions? The regional competitions last two days. The first day is practice and qualification matches while the second day is for more qualification rounds and the elimination (tournament style) rounds. Our team splits up into three groups: the pit crew, the drive team, and the scouts. People working in the pit are maintaining the robot and making sure it is in shape for the next game. The drive team is composed of five members that go to the field to control the robot during the game. The rest of the team scouts. Scouts are in the stands during the matches and they document how well teams other perform in order to make smart decisions about teams during alliance (a collection of three robot/teams that compete in the tournament against another alliance) selection.
What is gracious professionalism? Although this is a competition and everyone wants to win, FIRST is constantly reminding players of the term “gracious professionalism.” Essentially, it’s helping each other out without reservation. Not only does this prevent unethical methods of winning, but it also gives the competition a very happy feel and makes the games enjoyable for everyone. If a team has a problem it is great to know that you can ask another team for help and they will not refuse.
What will members get from participating in the FIRST program? Participants receive recognition and numerous opportunities to apply for scholarships from supporting companies and universities.
What skills will the members gain? Students who join and participate will learn how to play as a team and overcome tough obstacles, and gain professionalism and maturity. In addition, students learn valuable engineering skills such as using hand tools and heavy machinery, along with important business skills such as making a business plan, securing sponsors, and organizing outreach events.