by Laura Richardson, Mentor
The 2021 season is well on its way, having finished week 3 of Build. We have 1 ½ robots, and we are well on our way to competition season. Luckily, we have experienced build team members so we are handling the COVID-build world fine. The thing is that we pride ourselves on being #MorethanRobots. The brand side of the team is well represented and set for the future. The robot side is progressing nicely, and will work out by competition. The issue is the outreach side. Why? Because we have always put our emphasis on quality instead of quantity.
CSP has long focused on making a real difference in our team members lives and in that of those we support. Other teams will focus on drastic numbers – thousands or millions of people “reached.” We would rather make a real difference in 100 people’s lives than just make 1000 aware of our existence or that of FIRST. It is because eof that our COVID world has drastically affected our programs. Match that with the change made in 2019 to only count three years of impact for Chairman and the loss of half of the 2020 season with a wide-range shut down for a full year, and we have less impact with our existing programs. Luckily, we realized early on in the summer that the impact to mental health and to the social justice programs were opportunities that needed addressing. Unfortunately, they don’t fit into the “robotics int eh classroom” structure we follow, but it identified new and exciting programs that we are addressing. But is that going to be different and impactful enough to provide “proof” for the 2021 Chairman season? We just aren’t sure.
In fact, we talked just yesterday about the possibility of taking a year off from Chairman because our new programs have few results so far, and we have lower results with the last two years on our existing programs because they require face-to-face programs. Heck, the local FLL/FTC programs were cut in half or more this year due to the COVID shut downs. Although we are much more involved in local teams than previous, there are fewer teams with which to connect. And, worst of all, #TechItOut was cancelled the day before it happened and will not happen this year because of the changes – and since half of our rookies were introduced to FRC and to CSP with Tech It Out, this is a huge loss for us.
We know our programs are good and are strong and are impactful. That’s the point of “quality.” We know we will continue past COVID because they are set up to be sustainable, and we will continue to expand. But, do we want to put in the effort to apply this year? Who knows? We don’t believe in doing anything unless it’s done with high quality. Stay tuned to see if we decide to apply. Maybe we will; maybe we won’t.
by Jay B, 2nd Year, Sophomore
A year ago, I sat alongside my peers at CSP’s HQ swimming in excitement as we prepared for the FRC 2020 season kickoff. A year later, I have participated in my first virtual FRC kickoff. In that time between the two kickoffs, so much has happened and it’s interesting to reflect on my rookie season.
Although I had years of previous experience in both FLL and FTC, I was very afraid going into my rookie season. Before I became a member on the team, it seemed as though it would be impossible for me to find my place on the team. These same feelings I carried with me when I became a CSP rookie. At first, I had hoped to become a programmer and a media team member (here’s a hint: one of those, I wouldn’t be for long). Through much trial and error, I found something that I truly loved, media.
One thing that I learned through my rookie season and becoming a part of the media team was how much I truly love to create. Creating has always been a love of mine, but making things for CSP has pushed that love even farther. Being on the media team taught me so much I didn’t know before, like how to create things digitally. As a rookie, I felt extremely proud to see my first pit signs be put onto the pit. That’s when it really felt as though I found my place on the team. When the pandemic hit, it was unfortunate to see my first season be cut off so short, to be here one minute and gone the next. I had many regrets about things I didn’t get to do last season.
As the 2021 season is just now gearing up for FRC, I still realize that I have a lot to learn. And I think that’s the beauty of FRC, even as a veteran student, there’s so much to learn, no one’s learning journey is ever over. And I believe that rookies should not be afraid of what’s to come of their season because there’s always a place for everyone on the team.
By 3rd Year Junior, Maggie F
Both FIRST and robotics as a whole are incredibly challenging subjects that require intense attention to detail and even larger amounts of skill. More importantly, however, robotics teaches students what it takes to be an engineer. These lessons discuss various topics and, ultimately, what someone takes away depends on who they are. However, there is one lesson that holds true for every aspiring engineer. Success, especially in the beginning, is not the point.
The Columbus Space Program has an extremely efficient and detailed manufacturing process. This process is designed with extreme detail to ensure that the robot is efficiently built with as few design errors as possible. And yet, without fail, there will be significant failures initially, and these failures will always lead to some design change. Moreover, even when the original design does work, there will be some instances during competition when a flaw or problem arises. This is, as described by a number of CSP students, merely the nature of robots. It is also the deep-running, barrier-breaking lesson that every aspiring engineer will learn at some point in their life. Engineering requires breaking barriers and experimenting with new ideas. Therefore, failure and setbacks are, more often than not, the inevitable outcomes. These failures can be disheartening and can lead to one questioning their abilities. But, without fail, the engineers who experience these failures and, despite their doubts, continue to search for solutions become the best engineers.
Engineering is the ultimate test of human thought and imagination. For these ideals to fail and succumb to the merciless laws of nature is merely inevitable. As a result, engineering is predicated on failing and learning from those failures. At both the high school and the professional level, failing is the only true sign of being an engineer. Failures push engineers to think creatively and, as a result, develop exceptional solutions to complex problems. This can be seen every day at CSP’s HQ and competitions. Facing and overcoming failure makes an engineer and, consequently, it is what will make CSP students engineers.
by Jay B, Sophomore 2nd Year
As many you already know, the past year as well as the beginning of the new year have been far from what any of us would deem normal. March 2020 was a month of doomsdays as cities all over the United States began to completely shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic; chaos, uncertainty, and fear ran throughout the country. In the midst of the madness was robotics. In March, FRC 4188 had been winding down from victory in Gainesville and now was in preparation for our Columbus qualifier, which was to be hosted by us. Unfortunately, the night before what was to be another victorious competition, our season was brought to a complete halt when the Columbus qualifier along with the rest of the 2020 FRC season was cancelled.
The team, like everyone else in America, had settled into their homes for quarantine. For the longest, it seemed as though quarantine would last a lifetime, and robotics was far gone. However, hope struck when we were granted permission by the school board superintendent to meet for robotics under COVID-19 restrictions. We were excited to meet after many months spent apart. Meetups began and things were back to “normal”, well except for one thing. Me, I had become a virtual robotics student.
Due to the virus, I decided that it would be best for myself to stay home. However, I did not want this to hinder my robotics life, so I decided to do my robotics work virtually. Most of my media work for the robotics team is already on the computer, so it was not a drastic change for me. However, what has been the hardest is balancing school, robotics and my mental health. I’ve come up with ways in order to keep the balance and try to stay on top of everything that life has thrown at me. In order to keep up with the rest of the team, I use resources such as Zoom and Slack. In order to tackle both school and robotics, I allocate specific days to spend my afternoons doing robotics or schoolwork. Then, in order to unwind, I go skateboarding. These strategies have helped a lot with keeping me on top of things. Throughout the time of this new normal, I genuinely feel like giving up everything, but then I remember my friends, family and wonderful team that I have behind me supporting me in all I do. And that makes things a bit easier.