Interview with Spectrum 3847

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Spectrum 3847 is a FIRST Robotics Team from St. Agnes Academy and Strake Jesuit College Preparatory located in Houston, Texas, USA.

Now that the FRC in-person seasons are continuing, what do you look forward to?

  • We are most excited about getting a new challenge and getting to experience an entire build season. The excitement of a new game brings brainstorming and creating new strategies and robot concepts. We can’t wait to experience the challenging fun of designing, building, assembling, and testing a new robot in limited time with the team supporting each other along the way.

Have there been difficulties adjusting to robotics after multiple lockdowns? If not, describe how your team kept in touch during the pandemic to minimize the distance between members and robotics. If there have been difficulties, describe ways your team is helping members adjust. Do you have any advice for teams who may be struggling as well?

  • The pandemic has led to many changes for our team. We were entirely virtual for about nine months. We improved our virtual communications using discord and slack to communicate regularly. Some of the things we have done that have helped keep us connected are
    • Slack “Questions of the Day” we have a generally light-hearted question each day that gets our team chatting together, and we learn about each other.
    • “FIRST Fridays” – Held on the first Friday of every month, they consist of general team updates, gratitude & recognition of individual members, and end with team bonding activities such as scavenger hunts, family feud, Pictionary, and video games. FIRST Fridays never fail to create long-lasting memories. 
    • Virtual Training and Work Sessions – We cover CAD, design, and programming sessions virtually over discord. We also have work sessions using the WPILib simulator, Romi robots, and OnShape to let us continue to work remotely. 
  • We have returned to some in-person meetings this year, so we have adopted a hybrid model.
    • We have continued many of our virtual activities from above.
    • We have also added small group training sessions to do specific hands-on training modules, from building rubber band cars to 3D printer training.
  • We started a Spectrum supporter slack group. This has been useful in creating an online environment for parents and alumni. We have different channels, and it is one place for communication. We have had positive feedback from team parents. 

What goals has your team set for the new season in January? (Example: Win a Blue Banner) How do you plan on achieving this goal?

  • Our goals for the 2022 FRC season aren’t that different than they were pre-pandemic. We enter every season with the goal of competing to win events and competing to earn judged awards such as the Chairman’s Award and Engineering Inspiration Award.
  • Both of those goals serve the greater purpose of developing the potential in our students to do extraordinary things. 
  • Our plan to achieve that goal includes continuously improving our program by expanding our resources, bringing in more and diverse team members, providing a wide range of learning and growth opportunities, bonding around the team vision, and working to fulfill our potential.

What does EDI look like to your team? How does your team promote EDI? Any advice?

  • EDI to us is understanding that opportunities aren’t distributed equally to people and using our resources to increase access to robotics programs where we can. One of the key ways we promote EDI is by bringing robots, programming, and electronics courses to youth organizations all around greater Houston. Through our time, we have partnered with multiple organizations from the Boy and Girls Club, YMCA, the Microsoft Store, and summer camps to teach free robotics courses to their students. Our team provides the robotics kits, curriculum, and teachers for these courses free of charge to our partner organizations.

What does Gracious Professionalism mean to your team, and how does your team practice Gracious Professionalism? 

  • Gracious Professionalism is many things, and it’s often easier to start with what it’s not. Gracious professionalism is never something to be used to judge anyone; it’s not a tool to be wielded to persuade or intimidate. 
  • Gracious Professionalism is an ideal to strive for. Gracious Professionalism is defaulting to kindness and being empathic to others. Gracious Professionalism is showing up consistently prepared to contribute your time, talents, and abilities to a cause that’s greater than yourself.
  • We show the value of gracious professionalism in many things we do. One of our core beliefs is that our experience is enhanced when we can share what we have learned and our experience with others, and they can use that information to learn, improve their team, and be more competitive on the field. That is why we document our season on our blog, publish our CAD and software, share our training resources and guides, and help teams whenever possible.
  • Our team is always thinking of ways to move the FRC community forward and improve the sustainability of FRC teams in diverse communities. For example, we organize a Texas mentor workshop to provide them with essential resources to mentor a team and build a mentor’s network. We think about the struggles young teams face and what resources we can provide to help them build a competitive robot? Along with FRC#5414, our team is meeting with ten young teams in Houston. We are creating a welcome kit and supplemental parts kit filled with essential items we think will help them and guide them thru the complexities of FRC.