From Brooke, our Engineering Lead
Sparky, as I have come to learn, has a unique way of approaching FIRST robotics and the many challenges we face as a team. Whether its planning our yearly outreach efforts, or building another robot, there are a few ways of thinking that we believe have become a part of who we are. We as a team strongly believe in the concept of “keep things simple but elegant, and if you can’t outsmart the world, out-work it”. Simply put, we always strive for the simplest, most efficient solution to a problem, and if we don’t reach that near-perfect solution, then we work ten times harder than before until we get an answer (or a product) that meets the standards that we set for ourselves.
For example, when we wanted to spread Jr.FLL into Haiti among other third world countries, and were told that FIRST did not have the resources at the time, we simply had to work harder to achieve our goals. Sure creating our own Jr.FLL themed program took a lot of hard work, but in the end of the day, if extra hard work is the cost we have to pay to give back to the world, then so be it.
This same mentality applied to our robot as well. To be honest, Recycle Rush threw us for a loop. We had done all of this pre-season work designing robot parts that would benefit an open field game, which we thought was the trend, but to our dismay, the opposite happened. In addition, we didn’t know what to think of the uniquely-different game pieces of Recycle Rush. At first glance, these game pieces were not easy to manipulate. What this meant for Sparky was prototype after prototype, revision after revision, test after test, never ending late nights, and even more refinement after that, until finally we got a product that we felt met our standards. By the end of the build season, Sparky 16 (Sparkenstein), had received multiple rebuilds and redesigns, both in the physical world and in the conceptual one.
I think that this high pressure and demanding environment is what Sparky needs to be successful. I think as a team, we need a challenge, and we need to be pushed, in order to reach our heights. Sure we don’t always do things the easy way on Sparky, but when we are faced with a challenge, we only have one thing to say: bring it.