After much excitement, this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition game, STEAMworks, has finally been revealed. STEAMworks is a game where two alliances composed of three robots work to use steam power to prepare their respective airships for takeoff. This is accomplished by shooting balls (fuel) into the goal (the boiler), delivering gears to the pilot, and climbing at the end of the teleop period (preparing for takeoff).

Due to the ice, we were not able to meet in person for the first five days of build season. However, we did not let this time go to waste. We met online to brainstorm strategies and figure out how we were going to play this game, how our robot was going to complete the tasks we wanted it to, and how we were going to fit everything together on the robot while staying within the size limits. We all decided to build a fast robot with the capability to shoot fuel, deliver gears, and climb. At the end of week one, we had a basic design and were fine tuning it in CAD (Computer Aided Design) while prototyping some of the ideas we came up with.

During the second and third week, we continued prototyping our ideas and started to work on building our shooter and ball collector. For a long time, we debated over having a low goal shooter or a high goal shooter. We eventually decided on a high goal shooter as it was worth more than the low goal. We also worked on our gear collector design. For our gear collector, we decided to make it automated to allow for faster gear cycles. Apart from working on the robot, our team also started working on the marketing and business-related items, such as writing the Chairman’s essay and drawing t-shirt designs.

At the beginning of week four, we finished building our ball collector and shooter. For the rest of the week, tested our shooter and ball collector, tweaking and changing some things. We also continued to work on our gear collector. The business side of things also accomplished much during this week. They finished writing our Chairman’s essay submission and successfully submitted it by the deadline while continuing to work on our video, button designs, and a t-shirt design drawn in illustrator.

During week five and six, we finished our gear collector, changing it from one that had more moving parts to one that was essentially a plastic pocket. We also had drive team tryouts, powder coated our robot, and named our robot Slartibartfast during these weeks. While our build team was working on finishing building the robot, our marketing team was working on putting the final touches on the t-shirt design and began the process of ordering them. Finally, it was time to get Slartibartfast ready for bag & tag. We are beyond excited for our competitions and cannot wait to play with our fellow North Carolina teams and, hopefully, out-of-state teams!