March 5, 2023 – The FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) Team 1671, the Buchanan “Bird Brains” of Buchanan High School hosted an Open House at their high school for the 15th year running.
This open house showcased the team’s, as well as other local schools’, progress in robotics over the last year.
According to Dimple Ravuri, Teacher/Advisor for the Bird Brains, FIRST® Robotics is a program that allows Pre-K through high school students to create real, working robots to compete in tournament-like competitions.
These teams and their robots then get the chance to compete against other programs from across the world as in fact, in 2015, the Bird Brains were named World Champions for their efforts at the FRC World Championship.
This year, the FRC World Championship, looks to host more competition teams than it did in 2022, and hopes to be their biggest event ever according to their website.
To start the competition season, the Buchanan Robotics team hosted an Open House and revealed their robot, which this year happens to be a robot that can pick up mini traffic cones, and inflated cubes that will then have to balance on a pedestal.
This year’s robot must be efficient in specific motor skills such as using its balance or picking up specific items.
The new challenge for this year’s competition was revealed in January, and students were given 6-8 weeks to unveil their product. Dimple Ravuri explained that the process first begins with the technical team coming up with a computer-aided design of the robot.
“They use SOLIDWORKS [a 3D CAD Design Software] to design the robot all on the computer. They then start prototyping, which takes about two weeks to do that. Every kid wants to come up with an idea, so they prototype it with wood first to see if it works or not.”
After this, Ravuri explained that with the assistance of the machine shop on campus at Buchanan High, funded by the CTE Pathways program in Clovis Unified, the team is able to have all of the parts of their robot “machined” in house.
The process before relied on dependence of sponsors from off campus, but now the team is able to control every aspect of the robot’s creation.
Final steps after this include wiring and using Java, a computing and language program platform that programs the robot to do what it needs to do for competition.
According to Dimple Ravuri, teams like the Buchanan Birdbrains make it a priority to spread STEM knowledge through their local community.
They have gone to elementary schools, libraries and farmer’s markets to increase participation in FIRST® robotics, reaching around 2000 people last year.
In fact, Buchanan High School wasn’t the only school present at the Open House, as many elementaries from the surrounding Buchanan area were present with different STEM projects of their own.
Team 1671 hosts multiple FIRST Lego League scrimmages, qualifiers, and also assists with the regional championship. The Bird Brains volunteer and host outreach events, having traveled internationally to spread the message of STEM.
Plenty of this year’s team members were freshmen who finally were able to join on the heels of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dimple Ravuri explains that while there may be specific growing pains when it comes to the younger competitors, the team is excited to compete and is grateful for the opportunity.
Their next competition, the Central Valley Regional, comes this March 9th-12th, free to the public at the Fresno Convention Center.
Buchanan High alongside the Clovis West and Clovis North Robotics Teams look to take part in this competition.