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The Impact of Using Multiple Drive Teams on a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team During Competition

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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


Linda Whipker The Forge Initiative Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Linda Whipker is the Founder/President of The Forge Initiative, a nonprofit in Cary, NC a nonprofit bringing families and individuals of all ages together to explore, learn and lead using technology and engineering. Focused on creating alternative education frameworks for various age and interest groups, she brings her extensive experience and insight into creating learning environments that become focal points in the community, engaging diverse groups in daring learning journeys. Her background includes a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics and Marketing from Purdue University and consulting experience in market research and adult training.

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Robert A. Mackie The Forge Initiative

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Rob Mackie is the Vice President of The Forge Initiative, a nonprofit bringing families and individuals of all ages together to explore, learn and lead using technology and engineering.

He focuses on using the excitement of breaking edge technology to create a focal point to form communities where the next generation of leadership emerges. His 20 years in R&D in telecommunications and his varied experience in the training industry provide him perspective and skills to make technology accessible and promote the creative excitement of invention.

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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. She is current program chair of the Energy Conversion and Conservation Division.

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The 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) season was filled with excitement, a challenging competition design (FIRST Stronghold), and many talented youth, mentors, and leaders. Part of the excitement is the opportunity to drive the robot in competition. Unfortunately, this privilege is usually reserved for just four students due to the nature of the competition. The four students comprise one drive team; each with their own roles. There is “the programmer” who is in charge of the software used to operate the robot, “the driver” who operates the joystick during teleop, “the coach” who helps maintain order and provide guidance for the driver, and “the human player” who is given strategic duties to assist the driver during the match.

Many teams have 10-20 students (if not more) who spend many hours during build season designing, building, and testing the robot. It is a bit of a let down when they are not chosen as part of the drive team. However, one team overcame this disappointment by piloting a new model that implemented the use of three drive teams during the 2016 competition season. There were a total of 17 students on the team. By implementing three drive teams, 12 of the 17 students were able to participate in the matches.

This paper documents the model used and the impact and success of the pilot. A similar model was also implemented by a second FRC team during a recent exhibition competition. The parents and students will be surveyed to guage their impression of having multiple drive teams and the impact they believe it has on the team and on the learning experience.

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) rallies 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.

Whipker, L., & Mackie, R. A., & Albers, L. A. (2017, June), The Impact of Using Multiple Drive Teams on a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team During Competition Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

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