Eagle Robotics began in 2004 with the goal of bringing the excitement and challenges of FIRST robotics the small community of Arroyo Grande on California’s Central Coast. Originally founded by Mr. Findley, an industrial technology teacher at Arroyo Grande High School, the team would go on that very first year to win the Curie Division at the FIRST World Championships, an unprecedented feat for a “rookie” team. After several more years of service, Mr. Findley would retire from the team and Mr. Helete of Arroyo Grande High’s IDEA Academy would take his place in a leadership role. At the beginning of the 2014 season, Mr. Helete handed off leadership of the team to Kathy Goss and Michael Safina who now jointly serve as faculty advisors.
Enough about our history, now- let’s talk about exactly what we do as a team and as a member of FIRST. Many local teams as well as ourselves participate in FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, a robotics program created by Dean Kamen. FIRST focuses on getting students interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and encourages them to consider careers in related fields. To this end, they host several major robotics competitions with thousands of teams worldwide.
Eagle Robotics is part of the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) organization, which stresses building a large robot in six weeks or less to meet a prescribed challenge. Beginning on the first Saturday in January, teams stream a worldwide simulcast detailing the challenge. We then divide into groups to prototype, build, weld, machine, wire, program, practice with, break, repair and finish our robots.
About a month later, the team heads off to regional events. A regular fixture at the Sacramento regional, FRC 1388 has seen many successes and a few notable failures in its fast-paced arena. We often attend the Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Diego regionals as well. We have also attended FIRST championships on several occasions, which are held in St. Louis and places teams from around the world into competition with one another.
All of this work is done by high school team members, under the watchful eye of our mentors, volunteers who have experience in relevant fields and who donate their time to contribute their knowledge and make sure we don’t burn down our shop.