by Chloe Schwartz
February 12th-15th is know to most as Winter Weekend, but to the members of the Fighting Unicorns, it’s Epic Weekend.
First of all, here’s a little background on how FIRST Robotics Competition works: The first Saturday of January is Kickoff. The year’s challenge is released to the entire world at the same time. From then on, each team has six weeks to build a completely functioning robot. This period is called Build Season.
Because HB gives us four full days off for Winter Weekend, our robotics team gets a lucky break. While most of you are off excelling in sports competitions, winning awards in debate, going on vacations or chilling at home, Team 2399 is at school from 10:00 am to 11:30 pm, designing, fabricating, wiring, and coding our robot.
Epic Weekend is extremely intensive. With the exception of breaks to skateboard, contemplate the odd engineering choices in the Dining Hall, and drive to Home Depot, each sub-team works on getting as much done as possible. It’s a mentally and physically draining experience, but at the same time, a very rewarding one. You become very close to your teammates, and the learning intensive that is Build Season becomes even more heightened during that time.
As I write this, sitting in my room at home after a night of fast paced testing, we’re in the last week of Build. Some FRC teams have already competed in Week Zero competitions, and many more have released robot reveal videos. Team 2399’s robot is in its final stages of completion, and looks absolutely gorgeous.
Tomorrow night (Tuesday 2/23) is Stop Build. At exactly midnight, teams based everywhere from Brazil to Australia will call hands off the robot. We put the robot in the bag, tag it, and can only take it out again within competition hours. The hands-off rule is based on an honor code system, and in the spirit of FIRST, FRC teams always adhere to it.
Coming up next is competition season! This is where people who aren’t involved with FIRST get a chance to see amazing robots in action. The Fighting Unicorns will be at the Buckeye Regional from March 16th to March 19th, right at the start of Spring Break. More information on this, team gear, and our robot to follow, so stay tuned. And if you see a robotics team member in the halls, congratulate them- they’ve built a fully functioning robot in just six weeks. That’s an amazing accomplishment.