Transitioning from FIRST LEGO League to FIRST Robotics Competition

More than three fourths of our FIRST Robotics Competition team (team members and mentors) have FIRST LEGO League experience.

2020 is our rookie season as a FIRST Robotics Competition Team. We believe that our background in FIRST LEGO League makes us a stronger team. FIRST LEGO League was a fantastic way to gain the overall skills that we needed going into FIRST Robotics Competition.

In FIRST Robotics Competition, it truly takes teamwork to accomplish our goals. There is a lot to accomplish in just six weeks. FIRST LEGO League taught us about what it takes to work as a team. It gave us a chance to learn how to problem-solve with a group of people/teammates. Each team meeting, there is inevitably something that needs to be fixed or a problem that needs to be solved. We discuss the issue and brainstorm solutions together. No idea is regarded as inappropriate. We consider all ideas and make a decision together. Everyone contributes where there is a need.

Knowing the Core Values coming into the program has also been extremely beneficial to us. Knowing how to be kind and to use Gracious Professionalism on and off the field, even when things go wrong, makes our team stronger. For example, we competed at an off-season event in September 2019. Our robot literally broke in half during a match. Yet, not one teammate was upset and not one teammate blamed another. We just quickly gathered around the robot, made decisions and worked together. Our FIRST LEGO League experience also helps us work with other FIRST Robotics Competition teams better. Collaboration comes naturally because we have already experienced the power of Coopertition.

The communication and time management skills we learned through FIRST LEGO League help us do more and stay on track in FIRST Robotics Competition. We use the communication skills learnt in FIRST LEGO League during outreach events when giving presentations and seeking sponsorships. The time management skills and learning to take responsibility for our work directly applies to FIRST Robotics Competition. These skills are not just useful inside FIRST, but in the real world as well.

On the technical side, FIRST LEGO League prepared us for FIRST Robotics Competition. Although we are now programming in Java, it was easy to transition to a text-based language once you understand programming. FIRST LEGO League provided us the basic programming knowledge needed for this transition. In fact, our team was even selected to beta-test the 2020 FRC Control Systems for the Infinite Recharge season despite being rookies. Even though we are now building a 125lb metal robot instead of using LEGO, the concepts of building a strong, reliable robot remain. Just like in FIRST LEGO League, we use the Engineering Design Process at every team meeting. We come up with ideas, prototype solutions, test them out, and revise the idea. Just like in FIRST LEGO League, we even use sensors on our robot - color, ultrasonic, gyro and cameras. You can detect targets and avoid obstacles in the same way you do in FIRST LEGO League.

Overall, we believe that our participation in FIRST LEGO League helped to make us better people as well as better teammates. In addition, the skills we learnt in FIRST LEGO League directly transferred into FIRST Robotics Competition. We were better prepared for FIRST Robotics Competition. We hope that we inspire more FIRST LEGO League students to participate in FIRST Robotics Competition.

Ben, Ramsey, Arvind, Sanjay, Alex, Eli, Lucas
FIRST LEGO League Alumni on FRC 8027

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