The nuts and bolts of build season

Caitlyn Croppi, News Editor

“Hectic, time-consuming, and exciting.” These are the words of the head of design junior Jay Beeman to describe Robotics during build season.

Build season is the most important part of Robotics, according to senior president Helen Le. It is during this time that the actual robot is built. Build season began the first Saturday of January, with all Robotics teams in the area meeting at Auburn High School. The kickoff event occurs simultaneously around the world. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) the nonprofit STEM-engagement program for youth worldwide, that is in charge of the competition, releases a video, listing the requirements of the Robotics game.
The Iron Patriot’s task? To complete as many requirements as possible and make sure that it can compete in games. The game requires that the robots have to score thirteen inch balls in a goal box, score hatch panels on Velcro patches, score balls in rocket ship parts, arms that can flip, catch, and suck in the balls to go to the claw, and a device that brings the balls up to score. Robotics have six weeks to build a robot that can do all of that.
“No question, build season is the most important part of being in Robotics. Yeah, the competitions are really fun, but this is the soul of what the club and class are really about,” Le said.
To make sure that members contribute to the robot, Robotics has requirements. Robotics members have to get 100 hours after school during build season, attend two outreach events, and attend one competition. Drive team members and officers like Beeman and Le have to get a 150, along with the other member requirements. This may sound like a hard task to many, but according to Le, it’s not as hard as it looks. Most students spend about 32 hours after school each week working at Robotics. The Robotics’ record, according to their website, is 421 hours.
“It’s a lot like a job: we have the employees doing what the managers tell them, and then the executives breathing down the managers’ necks. Except we don’t get paid. Which all seems like too much work, but really we are one big family,” Beeman said.
Much like a big family, the Robotics team keeps growing, and this year is the highest attendance they’ve ever had during build season. According to Beeman, having this many students is amazing because they now have groups and teams where before one person did all of that work.
“It was one of our main goals this year to include as many new or inexperienced members as possible, and I feel like not even a month in we’ve accomplished that,” Le said.
According to Le, one of the best parts of Robotics is the diversity. Liberty’s large team is not only attributed to the belief that there’s a place in Robotics for anyone, but also that Robotics is becoming widely popular, with 6,917 FIRST teams, which adds up to 91,000 students and 25,000 mentors from 27 countries.
Liberty’s Iron Patriots’ first competition is the second weekend of March, which will be their first regional competition.