Robotics season kicks off with Recycle Rush

Sophomore Hunter Sprague of Citrus Circuits works in M-2.
Sophomore Hunter Sprague of Team 1678 works in M-2. Courtesy photo by Citrus Circuits.

By Benjamin Hoffner-Brodsky and Isabella Ainsworth, Staff–

The announcement of the new FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition, called Recycle Rush, marked the official start of the 2015 season for high school robotics teams.

Early in the morning on Jan. 3, Team 1678 “Citrus Circuits” from Davis traveled to St. Francis High School to join teams from throughout the Sacramento region to watch the annual kickoff live stream and get a first look at this year’s game. The announcement was viewed simultaneously by robotics teams worldwide.

Among the teams attending was Team 5458 “Digital Minds” from Pioneer High School and Woodland High School in Woodland. Digital Minds is a new team that Citrus Circuits started in 2014 and is currently mentoring.

Approximately 3,000 teams will be competing across the world this year.

Recycled Rush requires teams to intake and stack crates, recycling cans and pool noodles to gain points. The game is played by two alliances of three robots competing to rack up the highest score.

Each team now has six weeks to build a robot that can drive both autonomously and with a controller to compete against other teams at regional competitions. Winners at the regional will qualify for the World Championships in St. Louis, Mo.

Last year, Citrus Circuits took second place at the World Championships. This year, they are hoping to win first.

The robotics team met about five times over the break, according to senior Elise Wong, captain of the team. At first they met in their sub-teams: Business and Media, Mechanical, Electrical and Programming. But they have had several all-team meetings since then.

It is not unusual for the robotics team to meet so much over winter break, or any break for that matter. However, this year they “might be meeting more than usual,” Wong said.

Wong says that in addition to meeting over winter break, the team met over Thanksgiving vacation and plans to meet during spring break as well.

Junior Shreya Sudarshana, the head of the Business and Media sub-team, went to almost all of the team meetings over break. Business and Media is responsible for funding the team; its members spent most of their time over the break trying to raise money.

“We have to get all of the money in before we spend it on the robot,” Sudarshana said.

Anyone interested in the program can watch Citrus Circuits compete at the Sacramento Regional at the UC Davis ARC Pavilion on Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15. The competition is free to watch and open to the public.

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