Established in 2003, The ÜberBots, FRC Team 1124 was created by a group of students and parents who wanted to bring their learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to the next level. Every year, we spend the start of our season designing, building, and programming robots during our six and a half week build seasons. Next, we compete in a new, challenging game designed by the organization FIRST. We also spread knowledge of STEM throughout our community during our off-season period with a multitude of community events. We volunteer at local events in our community and even make our own in order to spread STEM awareness in our community. Since 2003, our team has gone on to accomplish many feats; reaching the semi-finals in the New England Championships and even competing in the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis.
Along with spreading the ideas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), a FIRST team must construct a new robot for that season’s challenge. FIRST’s FRC teams have six and a half weeks to design, prototype, create and finalize a robot that will compete soon after. Before build season commences, the students and mentors work together to create an in depth plan, including deadlines and supply order dates. The physical process starts at kickoff, when the game animation for the season is revealed, alongside the rulebook designed for that specific season’s challenge. The rulebook is analyzed by the team in order to formulate a strategic base that will influence the design of the robot. After the team has spent time deciding on a common strategy, the team moves forward into robot design, where ideas are pitched back and forth, finding the pros and cons of each. Once the team settles on a robot design, it’s passed to the CAD team, where the robot is designed in programs such as Autodesk Inventor. When the models are prepared, the mechanical team takes on the task of making prototypes and testing different variations. Meanwhile, the code subteam has been preparing drivetrain controls, vision tracking and autonomous procedures for the robot. After the prototyping is done, the mainframe or superstructure of the robot is constructed. The rest of the robot is constructed and wired ready to be tested. Once the six and a half weeks is up, the robot is bagged until competition. Due to the this rule, the newer Uberbots take on the task of working on a secondary, identical robot to practice with, while the competition bot stays bagged.
An important aspect of the FIRST and the FRC program is the robotics experience gained, however as the frequently expressed slogan of this program pronounces, “It’s more than robots.” Our team not only offers mentoring but also allows for members to gain and develop skills such as engineering, CAD, programing, wiring, writing, communication and professionalism, and leadership. During build season, the Uberbots have members join any of our 3 primary subteams: Mechanical, Coding, and Community. Mechanical focuses on direct contact with the robot, their task ranging from participating in the design process to physically building it which includes not only construction, but also wiring. During the offseason, students apart of this subteam receive a basis of understanding of CAD and hone their skills with the tools within our workshop. The programming subteam works on roboRio control systems using Java, Python, and C++. the combination of these tools allow for communication between the FMS, dashboard, and robot. Students in this subteam generally tend to focus on one aspect of the robot’s control system (autonomous commands, drive control, vision processing, etc…). Subteam members have several tools at their disposal when programming a robot such as wpilib, a java library designed to interface with the physical electrical components of the robot. With Community, students have the opportunities to help plan, organize, and participate in community outreach events and volunteer efforts. Community also develops students’ writing skills with the Chairman’s essay, as well as with grants for money and sponsorships. Students apart of The Uberbots are offered guidance for a variety of different skillsets, allowing the capability to discover their passion.
As an FRC team, the Uberbots participate in ranked competitions with other teams from around the world. After build season is over, our team enters a 7 week time period of competition in the New England district where we try to gain enough rank points to make our way to the World Championship. However, in order to get enough rank points, teams must do well during all their qualifying matches throughout the season during 2-3 district events and 1 District Championship event. Most of the district events take place in high school, or occasionally college, gymnasiums and are generally smaller with only 30-40 teams competing. These events are very spirited and allow for many teams to bond. The District Championship, takes place in venues like the XL Center and have the top 65 teams within the District participating. For the past 2 years, the Uberbots have done well enough in these events to be qualified for Worlds! Over 800 teams from all over the world come to The Dome at America's Center in St. Louis to try for the Championship title.
As part of the FRC program, its is our job to help spread the message of FIRST and STEM through community outreach. Over the past summer, our team strengthened its bond with our local library, who has become one of our closest sponsors and friends. We volunteered at the local farmer’s market, helping the local farmers unload and set up their stands, handing out bottled water, and directing market traffic on a weekly basis from 3-7 pm. This program sustained our partnership with the library, and created openings for new ways to help the community with events such as Avon-Con, ice cream socials, Instrument Zoo, Mathnasium, and plenty more.The Uberbots also ran was Pizza with a Robot, representatives of our team traveled to Block Island to create and mentor a new FTC team. In additions to events, we have held classes and programs about FIRST and STEM for children with the Boys and Girls Club, Camp KO, and the library. One of our biggest programs at the library is our Tech Education program. Our team hosts this one-on-one class to help anyone needing tech support learn more about computers and other technology that can be foreign and challenging to them. As of 2016, our team has created more events with the library to showcase our team and FIRST as well as provide a place for kids to have fun.