The Blair Robot Project

The Official Website of FRC Team 449

2018 FRC Power Up Kickoff


Students and mentors arrived bright and early at 9:30 AM to participate in a fun team breakfast and mingle with the team members they had not seen in several weeks along with members of Team 6239, The Irrational Engineers. Bagels, sweet treats, and hot chocolate were much needed after the below freezing temperatures of the week.  Everyone waited in anticipation for the reveal video scheduled for 10:30 AM.

After a brief strategy presentation from mentor Tim Judkins, students were shuffled into their strategy discussion groups to read the rules manual and wet their feet into FIRST Power Up.

Lunch, in 449 tradition, was pizza; excitement was tangible in the 360s hallway as talk over strategy spilled out of the classrooms. After being refueled, students took their energy back to the classrooms for intense debates until the team picture at the main stairway. Donned in all red, 449 members showed their pride wearing team shirts as well as taking joint pictures with 6239.


Everyone returned to their classrooms to put the final touches to their strategy presentations. From 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, all groups presented their favorite robot archetypes and were asked insightful and thought-provoking questions about their ideas. Students debated back and forth over whether a scale robot or a vault robot would be better, bringing up factors such as frequency in events along with expected point values, before finally heading out for the day.

But Kickoff did not end here; many members went home and continued discussions over many topics — rules, strategy, programming concerns, and more — online through Basecamp or worked together in small groups.  Some members even created preliminary CAD designs overnight to get a head start on Day 2!



Subteam leaders, officers, and senior mentors arrived early at Blair after a good night’s rest and lots of online discussion. Going over the previous day’s strategy presentations, as well as Chief Delphi discussions with FRC teams around the world, prepared 449 members to make an informed decision on this year’s strategy priorities: 1) teleoperated and auto scale placement, 2) auto switch placement, and 3) climbing during the endgame.

As the other students shuffled into the classroom, they were seated to watch Tim Judkins’s Kickoff Day 2 presentation. The end goal of the day was for each group to have rough robot designs to present to the team. These will guide discussions about the final robot design that will occur later in Week 1.

Aaron Szabo and Caitlin King worked together with Serena to create a rules quiz members must take if they want to be on the drive team at competitions.  Other mentors floated around design rooms and facilitated discussions to ensure students were being efficient and thinking through all possibilities for design.

After a second pizza lunch, members went back to their groups and classrooms to start discussing how they wanted to make the mechanisms necessary to meet the strategy priorities.  Many different ideas were brought to light: an elevator vs. arm for lifting and placing cubes, single vs. double assist for climbing, tank drive vs. mixed drive, and more.  After presentations and debate, the team had reached a rough consensus around one aspect of the robot: having an elevator mechanism. Other robot decisions are expected in the coming week.

Laura Espinoza • 2018-01-12

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