FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 686, Bovine Intervention, located in Thurmont, composed of students from Catoctin, Walkersville, and Oakdale High Schools and Walkersville Middle School, competed at the 2023 FRC Chesapeake District Championship at George Mason University, EagleBank Arena, on April 6, 7, and 8.
Teams 686 is one of five FRC high school level robotics programs in Frederick County. Prior to competing at the District Championship event, they competed in two FRC Chesapeake District qualifier events in March with other teams across the FIRST Chesapeake District areas of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. Based on Team’s 686’s overall accomplishments at the competitions in March, they advanced to be among 60 teams competing at the FRC Chesapeake District Championship three-day event. This championship event is one of many regional events across the United States. It had 120 competition matches and playoffs and serves as the stepping-stone with awards and rank earnings for select teams to compete at the FIRST Championship (World competition) in Houston, Texas. Teams 686 and 8726 finished the regional event in the mid-rankings but were not selected to compete in the 24 teams’ playoff rounds or advance to the FIRST Championship in Houston, Texas. Therefore, this completes their 2023 FRC season. Besides rankings earned during the competitions, Team 686 earned a Creative Design Award for their robot turret design at the Chesapeake District Championship. To reach this accomplishment, Team 686 Bovine Intervention conducted team-building, introduction to tools, and robot design and build during the summer and fall of 2022. Team 686 participated in the FIRST off-season competitions in August, October, and December. This prepared students to understand FIRST and robot competitions. As a result, students were ready for the 2023 FRC design, build, and testing of a 125-pound competition robot in response to the reveal of the 2023 FIRST tasks and strategic-oriented game in January 2023.
For the 2022 and 2023 school year, Frederick County students were inspired and gained educational experience as a response to tasks provided by the FIRST organization. Students learned and worked on electrical and mechanical engineering practices using Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD) software tools, applications, systems prototyping, assembly of structural and electrical components to a robot, advanced computer programming, and final laboratory test and refinement to complete a finished product. Students used various advanced additive and subtractive manufacturing equipment to include 3D printing, Computer Numerical Control (CNC), lathe, drill press, saws, and other types of tools. To expand on the aspects of advanced programming, students build extensive program coding for driving the robot and forming autonomous operations using measurements, calculations, and sensor readings for spatial locations. Overall, these robotics programs operate based on the FIRST organization to inspire young people by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, which inspires innovation and fosters well-rounded life capabilities, such as self-confidence, communications, and leadership. Students engaged in teamwork and performed marketing, outreach, and collaboration with other robotics programs at or outside of competitions.
Mentors, teachers, and student alumni help guide and prepare these students for opportunities in the 21st century workforce. As vibrant as these programs can be, most of the operational capabilities are based on support from grants, sponsors, families, donations, and volunteers. Additionally, the State of Maryland provides property tax credits to property owners who qualify and support robotics programs with a space to operate. Teams continually seek out such support.
Courtesy Photos FRC Team 686, Bovine Intervention, 2023 FRC Chesapeake District Championship