As was the case with most every program and event, Covid drastically changed the FIRST Robotics Season.  Instead of in-person competitions, FIRST offered several “remote” programs for the 2021 season.  Since most teams did not get any opportunity to compete in 2020, FIRST announced that the game for 2021 would be a slightly modified version of the 2020 game, Infinite Recharge.  As part of the season, teams had the option to participate in three challenges: the Infinite Recharge at Home Challenge, the FIRST Innovation Challenge, and the Game Design Challenge.  The Dean’s List Award and Chairman’s Award were also part of the 2021 season.  Code Red decided to participate in the Infinite Recharge at Home Challenge, the Game Design Challenge, the Chairman’s Award, and the Dean’s List Award.

For the Infinite Recharge at Home Challenge, teams could use their 2020 robot, which is what Code Red decided to do, but with some modifications.  We had discussed and created plans for a new ball pick-up and queuing system during our Zoom meetings in 2020.  We build the redesigned components of the robot, then practiced for challenges that involved shooting from a variety of distances, maneuvering through an obstacle course, and running an autonomous program.  After lots of practice, we video-taped the completion of the challenges and submitted them to FIRST.  Although we did not win any challenges, the experience kept the team up-to-date in design, fabrication, programming, and driving skills.

The Game Design Challenge was an opportunity to propose a new game for FIRST Robotics.  Throughout several brainstorming sessions, Code Red landed on a Game Design focused on a Rubik’s Cube style task where robots would place colored blocks in a giant cube with the goal of matching colors in rows according to how the cubes were colored for the match.  When the colors matched in rows, the cube layers would release, and robots could rotate the cube to match the colors to each side.  The end game involved a climbing challenge.  Once the overall design of the game was worked out, the team created a set of rules and penalties for the game, designed the field, and created a game logo.  We presented the game remotely to a panel of judges.  Again, Code Red was not selected as a winner, but the experience really helped the team understand all the intricacies of game design.

Besides the team challenges, Code Red also submitted and presented remotely for the Chairman’s Award, and nominated one student for the Dean’s List.  Our theme for the Chairman’s Award was “Still Relentless”, where we explored how Code Red was able to build on our history of outreach and find ways still impact our community within the conditions we were living in.  Our Dean’s List nominee, Isaac M., was selected as a state finalist.

Overall, it was not the season we were hoping for in 2021, but considering the circumstances, FIRST offered a great alternative that allowed us to still play with robots.