FIRST Robotics at Kent


Emily Yuan, Editor

Although the sun sets quite early in the winter, many students are willing to walk to the pre-engineering building in town every day to prepare for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. Run by Mr. Harris, who currently teaches AS Statistics and pre-engineering electives, the FRC afternoon activity offers students the opportunity to participate in the highest level of pre-engineering competition in high school, meeting teams from all over the world. 

In the preparation process, the FRC students break down into subdivisions. Led by Aryan Saha ’23 and Kuan Lu ’22, the Coding Team uses Java to write everything the robot and driving station need. A portion of their work comes from WPI, a library of codes. The Computerized Design Team designs the robot, ensuring that everything fits digitally. Many students in this team took the Engineering Design Elective that Mr. Harris teaches and supplement their work at FRC by using other self-taught tools. 

After the robot has been programmed and designed, the Fabrication Team, led by Brandon Cooke, physically builds the robot and the equipment needed to test the robot. Members of this team engage in a hands-on activity and have basic knowledge of using hand and power tools. Finally, the Electrical Team keeps all wires organized. As every motor, radio antenna, and other parts of the robot have wires, the Electrical Team pays great attention to detail, sometimes using basic electromagnetism knowledge to better perform their jobs. 

Due to the pandemic last year, the FRC team lost an opportunity to compete. However, this gave the activity a chance to experiment with the sub-team organization in which Mr. Harris takes a hands-on approach, doing the logistics and helping with the fabrication team. As Mr. Harris shares, the biggest challenge is the other teams have more mentors, as many as five to 25 supervisors. While this seems like a disadvantage for the Kent FRC team, the lack of adult involvement emphasizes the achievement of Kent FRC students, who Mr. Harris describes to be willing to take on a challenge and work together to do so. “I hope students gain hands-on skills but mostly experience with communicating and working in a team, in which they’ll produce something meaningful,” Mr. Harris said.