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Starting a Rookie FIRST Robotics Competion Team: Lessons Learned

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Pre-College: Robotics

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Lynn A. Albers Campbell University

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Dr. Lynn Albers is Founding Assistant Professor of the newly formed School of Engineering at Campbell University. A proponent of Hands-On Activities in the classroom and during out-of-school time programs, she believes that they complement any teaching style thereby reaching all learning styles. She earned her doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University where her research spanned three colleges and focused on Engineering Education. Her passions include but are not limited to Engineering Education and Energy Engineering. In addition, she has been lead mentor of FRC Team SUM #6003 for the past two years.

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Jenna P. Carpenter Campbell University

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Dr. Carpenter is Founding Dean of Engineering at Campbell University. She is Chair of the ASEE Long-Rangge Planning Committee and the ASEE Strategic Doing Governance Team. She is a past Vice President of Professional Interest Councils for ASEE and past President of WEPAN. Currently Chair of the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholars Program Steering Committee and an ASEE PEV for General Engineering, Dr. Carpenter regularly speaks at the national level on issues related to the success of women in engineering and innovative STEM curricula.

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Marie E. Hopper FIRST North Carolina

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Starting a rookie FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team is daunting. In an effort to help overcome the fear factor, this paper includes lessons learned, tips for starting, techniques for recruiting, and strategies for retaining community engagement in STEM outreach. By sharing the lessons learned, the goal of this paper is to take the fear factor out of starting a FRC rookie team.

FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – is a global program that inspires students to learn and love STEM. FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) engages students in grades 9-12 to design and build a robot according to the competition specifications revealed at kick-off; marking the start of build season which lasts a little over six weeks. The students then travel to district events where a driveteam of four students operates the robot; competing in numerous matches over a two-day period to earn ranking points and ultimately qualifying for the State Competition.

FRC is an excellent hands-on activity that promotes intellectual and emotional growth for all students involved. The opportunity for learning is immeasurable thereby making participation in FRC highly desirable. There is a need for more teams in order to give more students this learning opportunity. Unfortunately, the demand for more teams is coupled with a deficit of mentors. Many adults feel unqualified to mentor for numerous reasons. It is hoped that by sharing lessons learned of five, successful rookie teams, more adults will realize their potential for mentoring and/or starting a FRC team.

The 2016 FRC season was filled with excitement, a challenging competition design (FIRST Stronghold), and many talented youth, mentors, and leaders. This paper focuses on the lessons learned from five, successful rookie teams; analzying the data for common themes. The teams have provided lessons learned from the perspective of the lead mentors, specialized mentors, and the students; thereby creating a comprehensive list of helpful hints, techniques and strategies.

Albers, L. A., & Carpenter, J. P., & Hopper, M. E. (2017, June), Starting a Rookie FIRST Robotics Competion Team: Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28840

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