Full STEAM Ahead

High school Robotics teams gather for the unveiling of 2017’s FIRST® Robotics game


Brynne Herzfeld

The chairs are all filled at the Robert R. Shaw STEAM Center as teams await the reveal of the 2017 challenge.

Brynne Herzfeld, Voice Editor

The FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics season opened on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Robert R. Shaw STEAM Center. Cinco’s Team 624 (CRyptonite) joined schools from Katy ISD and several neighboring districts to watch Kickoff, the unveiling of this year’s unique challenge shown live around the world.

“Kickoff is the start of the competition season for FIRST Robotics,” Steve Adams, STEAM Center facility coordinator, said. “Whatever the robot has to do to score points completely drives what they’re going to be doing for the next three months in competition season.”

The 2017 game, FIRST® STEAMWORKS, centers around two raised platforms, or “airships”, with two players on each.  In the first 15 seconds of the match, robots act autonomously, with human drivers stepping in afterwards. The three robots on each team must collect fuel, in the form of bright yellow balls, to deposit in their respective boilers, either through a slot at the bottom or through the top chute of the boiler, to score points.

Robots must also deliver gears to the players on the airships, who use the gears to spin rotors at the top of the airship. Near the end of the match, the players deploy ropes for robots to climb onto the airship, scoring 50 points for each robot on the airship when the match ends.

“I think this year’s game is going to be a lot more fun and interesting,” safety captain Bella Riffle said. “Last year’s game was really complicated, but this year seems pretty straightforward and simple.”

Though STEAMWORKS uses conventional FIRST® Robotics gameplay mechanics, like robots scaling objects for bonus points, STEAMWORKS is the first game to place human players on the field during matches. Human interaction is usually restricted to remotely driving the robots and tossing pieces to robots to score more points.

The official build season ends on Feb. 21, giving CRyptonite a little more than six weeks to design, build and test both a working prototype and a competition-ready robot on the mockup field with four other teams sharing the STEAM Center.

“This is going to dictate the next three to four months of a lot of these kids lives,” Adams said. “It’s an exciting time.”


For more information about FIRST® STEAMWORKS, visit http://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/game-and-season