Have a question about our robotics program? Here are some of the most often asked questions and our answers to them. If your question is not listed, feel free to shoot us an email.
When does the team meet during the week?
During preseason, the entire team is meeting online after school, though individual departments may choose to use other platforms like Discord. Unlike previous years, there are no specific “workshop hours” during which departments meet; the meeting schedule is entirely up to each department. All team and department meetings can be found on our team calendar, which is regularly updated.
Due to COVID-19, we are meeting in the workshop on a limited basis. Students in the Mechanical and Controls departments are broken into “Pods” that can enter the workshop for training and machine tool use. Read more about Pods in the Robotics Reopening Plan. When students do return to the workshop, dates will also be indicated on the calendar.
During Build Season (normally from the first Saturday of January until our first competition in March; this year, it may extend through June), we meet the same days during the week as in preseason; we may meet on Saturdays and Sundays as well. Specific dates can be found on our calendar. During Competition Season (normally February 26 - April 20; during COVID-19, TBD), we meet as necessary based on the competitions we attend. If we are successful at our Regional competitions (projected to be online/distance competitions this year) and we earn a slot, we will also travel to Houston, Texas for the FRC World Championships (tentatively scheduled for July 2021).
What does a robotics team do? What are these competitions like?
The best description of FRC Robotics was recently covered in an “HBO Real Sports” documentary you can view here.
Where do you guys meet?
Currently, we are meeting online through Slack and Google Meet, though departments may choose to use other platforms like Discord. However, once we are allowed back on the CCA campus, we meet in the Robotics Workshop, which is the gated area right next to the Nest and under the Learning Commons. It is a part of the Administration building.
Is it mandatory that I be at every meeting?
Our team is open to students with a variety of time commitments, and we do not “cut” team members if they can’t come very often. However, there are involvement requirements for various positions or privileges such as joining the leadership team, travel team, or being selected for a competition position. These commitments usually require a significant level of effort shown by completing projects, learning skills in your department, helping to train new members, involvement in outreach events, and a willingness to take on and complete tasks. As of this year, we are no longer mandating hour requirements.
Students with limited time must be aware of their availability and act accordingly. Getting involved in project groups or leadership positions where you hold a key position might not be the wisest decision if you have other responsibilities. However, don’t let that stop you from getting involved at all!
Is it mandatory that I stay for the entire meeting?
Students can come and leave as they like from meetings, which are currently mostly online. However, most of the announcements, project logistics, etc. will all happen at the beginning of meetings. So if you arrive late, make sure to talk to a student or mentor to find out what is happening.
If you need to leave the workshop early, you are required to clean up your work area prior to leaving. This is especially true of the Controls and Mechanical departments,who make the most use of our power and machine tools. If anyone fails to clean, workshop privileges may be revoked. Make sure the people you are working with are aware of your departure time. That way, you can work together to coordinate clean up, future plans, etc.
I have a fall sport. Can I be involved?
Students involved in seasonal sports can still be involved during their off-season. For instance, if you are a member of a fall sport which usually ends October/November, you can definitely hop in. Just make sure that you’ve finished our Getting Started checklist.
A good rule of thumb is that our most busy time is from November – March. If you sport doesn’t overlap with those months, you definitely can be involved during our main competition season.
I have a sport during competition season. Can I get involved during Fall/Spring?
If you really can’t be a part of the team during the main competition season, you are still welcome to join us during our off-season. We usually have build projects going and different workshops that can teach you valuable information about all sorts of mechanical, electrical, programming, or construction-related skills.
Who goes to your competitions? What are competition positions? Who are they open to?
This year is not a typical year. Currently, all competitions will be online in some form. However, FIRST plans to reevaluate in the January 2021 timeframe. Stay tuned!
During a normal year, travel team is made up of the students selected for competition positions. These are different roles that students can interview for if they have met the position requirements. While all students are allowed to join us at our home regional and help us compete, our travel team has very specific positions that are vital to our success.
Interviews for specific, key positions are held throughout November, during preseason. Most travel team positions are selected near the end of build season based on performance during the season.
Parents and students not on our travel team are invited to join us at the San Diego Regional/Del Mar Regional competition(s), and if we qualify, Houston Championships. It is a great opportunity to meet other teams, get inspired by robots, show your narwhal pride, and get to know the rest of your team better.