Beyond the Garage, DIY & Tech

How to Get Battle-Ready for a FIRST® Robotics Competition

Participating in a robotics competition is no small feat. Months of preparation culminates in a challenge that lasts less than three minutes. Every second can feel like a make or break moment for teams of students and their robots. To add to the pressure, hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people are in attendance.

How ‘Bot That

Since 2015, Gladiator brand has been supporting high school STEM students in their efforts at the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC). If you haven’t heard of FRC, check it out. This annual competition is the definition of high-intensity. From the outset, teams and their mentors are challenged to design and build an industrial-size robot with limited time and resources. In the end, they compete in a field game that tests the effectiveness of their robot against their opponents.

The Road to FIRST

In order to advance to a State Championship, teams must attend two qualifiers, called district events. This year’s FIRST in Michigan qualifiers were held in St. Joseph, Michigan on March 8-9. 40 teams from the Southwestern part of the state participated. To see the final results and some clever team names, click here.

Gladiator Brand at the Games

To be successful in a robotics competition, you need resources. The sheer amount of tools and materials needed to give your robot an edge over numerous well-established teams is daunting. Students are challenged to reach out to local businesses and corporations for support. Gladiator has donated several products to various teams over the past 4 years.

See What’s Been to FRC

• Ready-to-Assemble Mobile Storage Cabinets

3′ Wide Mobile Workstations

• 48″ Wide EZ Connect Rack with Five 18″ Deep Shelves

• Stools

The Lucky 7

This year, Gladiator donated 12 tool chests to seven robotics teams.

1. St. Joseph

2. Lakeshore

3. South Haven

4. Benton Harbor

5. Niles

6. Bangor

7. Bridgman

Pit Protocol

There are strict rules and time designations at FRC. Especially, when it comes to “the pit” — a 10 ft. by 10 ft. space designated for working on your robot. According to the rulebook, you must “stay in your pit” while practicing and your setup must be deemed safe. With very little “wiggle room,” it’s critical that your gear’s in order and won’t interfere with the flow of the event.

Take the Tool Chests on the Road

When the stakes are that high, it helps to have a setup that’s as well-oiled as your robot. As one Lakeshore student put it, “We have to keep our pits organized and safe. We don’t want to have any thing[sic] falling off…we have at least three Gladiator® tool chests where we keep all our stuff.” Another student from St. Joseph echoed the sentiment, “We take them to every competition. We load them in our trailer and take it two [to] three hours away, because it’s just so handy to have them around.”

You Heard It, Now Take a Look Inside the Product

Features: Steel Ball Bearing Slides | Cushioned Drawer Liners | Deep Storage Capacity

It’s More Than Robots

Beyond being a great opportunity to test out areas of interest within a STEM curriculum, robotics students are learning how to work together and solve a common problem using real-world skills. They’re learning how to be business-minded by marketing themselves, raising funds and sourcing potential donors like Gladiator for equipment. Above all, they’re getting a hands-on experience that will help them become the next generation of technical professionals.

Keep Computing

There’s more where that came from. See how this robotics team in Berrien Springs, MI geared up for their FIRST Robotics Competition with help from Gladiator.

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