Every year in January, RoboJackets plays an instrumental role in hosting the kickoff for the FIRST Robotics Challenge, the event in which FIRST unveils the specific game rules that the teams will be using in the coming year of competition. This year was no different. As usual, RoboJackets helped coordinate workshops to help teams succeed in the coming challenge, as well as hosting the presentation of the new challenge in the Ferst Center Theater.
Internally, RoboJackets made some changes to how the organization organizes the event. In the past, Kickoff has been coordinated by a single appointed officer, the Kickoff Coordinator. This year, in recognition of the importance of the event to the community and the amount of work required, the position was split into a small committee of three members, one 4th year and two 2nd years. This year’s Committee was Shishir Pandit-Rao, Abhiram Ghanta, and Yashas Ambati. In addition to the work distribution, there is also a knowledge transfer component. Shishir said: “by developing this committee approach, we hope to maintain better knowledge transfer to ensure this event is run smoothly for years to come!”
One change this year was holding the workshops before the presentations instead of after, as they had been in the past. This was done in response to feedback from attendees that the teams wanted more time during the day, and allowed teams to start on designs immediately after the game was revealed instead of having to split up to go to workshops.
RoboJackets hosted three workshops, one for each major discipline in FRC: Mechanical, Electrical, and Software. Notably, this year had much higher workshop participation than past years, between 40-70 attendees in each workshop, compared to 10-20 in previous years. Abhiram Ghanta attributed this to the fact that the workshops were held before the kickoff broadcast. In addition to these workshops, there are workshops that are related to the specifics of the game that were moved to a virtual format to be hosted by Georgia FIRST a week after kickoff.
Shishir was proud of the event overall:
This year’s FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff event was an astounding success! With over 60 teams and 500+ registered attendees, this event is growing year by year, allowing students to get the first glimpse of the game in a collaborative space with other teams, as well as allowing students to develop knowledge with our technical workshops.