Credit to Tamara Kawa

by Tamara Kawa ‘16

Originally posted on Notre Dame High School

It’s that season of the year again – FIRST Robotics Competition Build Season! And Notre Dame’s very own FRC Team 1967 Janksters couldn’t be more excited! Eager to start a new build season, the Janksters woke up at 7:30 am and eagerly waited for the new game to be announced. Before long, the room was abuzz with excitement for this year’s game – FIRST Stronghold.

FIRST Stronghold is a great throwback to previous FRC challenges that includes an innovative, medieval twist to capture-the-flag. The 2016 FRC game is played by two alliances, each with three teams, whose main objective is to breach the enemy’s defenses and capture their tower. To capture a tower, the robots must launch boulders past castle walls until the tower is sufficiently weakened. However, before attacking and scoring points, robots need to be able to get past the enemy’s defenses. These obstacles, following the game’s medieval theme, include drawbridges, portcullises, and even a moat!

The Janksters were pumped from the first second. Moments after the reveal, Emma Ryan, sophomore and mechanical co-lead, stated, “I think this game is definitely more exciting than last year’s game, but I do see that it’s going to be more of a challenge – especially with those changing field elements.” Tiffany Ta, junior and mechanical co-lead, adds “It’s going to be a lot harder than last year’s game, but it’s also going to be really, really fun.” After rewatching the game video and taking inventory of the Kit of Parts, Team 1967 read through the game manual, thoroughly investigating each section and rapidly noting the important restrictions. With the game understood, the girls then enacted a few rounds of FIRST Stronghold, followed by a strategic brainstorm session that left the students eager to explore the game more. Anisha Kabir, a freshman experiencing her first build season, commented, “It looks challenging, but I’m excited to see what we’ll do!”

The following Sunday was dedicated to prototyping mechanisms that could breach defenses and launch boulders. Rookies and veterans alike spent hours with whiteboards and computers, researching machines that complete similar tasks and drawing out their various ideas.  Another group of Janksters finalized the team’s strategy, considering all the ideas from the brainstorming session and debating the benefits and drawbacks for each. Throughout the morning and afternoon, the Janksters left no stone – or boulder – unturned as they explored all the possibilities of the 2016 game. Adriana Mulla-Carrillo, a mentor and team alumna from the Class of 2012, marvelled, “Just seeing how far the strategy discussions have come has been really cool to see.” At the end of the day, when the team came together to discuss their findings, all the mentors were amazed by the depth with which the Janksters discussed their mechanisms and strategies. Yashna Bansal, team admin and Class of 2017, reflected “It was very nice to see all the ideas come together, especially when those four groups put their mechanisms together.”

In just two days, Team 1967 has made amazing progress in building a robot for one of the most dynamic FRC challenges yet. What will FIRST Stronghold have in store for the Janksters? They may not know quite yet, but they’re enjoying every second of it.