Team 254’s robot Misfire won FIRST Robotics (FRC) tournaments in San Francisco (SFR) and San Jose (SVR). Releasing new challenges every year, FRC forces teams to design robots in six weeks. This year, teams had to build robots that could shoot balls and pick and drop off gears to earn points. In 3 vs. 3 alliance matchups, the referees declare the alliance with more points at the end of the match as the winner.

During SFR’s second finals match, Team 254’s alliance eked out the win. In SVR, it set the world record with 522 points in a game. Due to the robot’s balanced scoring abilities, it won these tournaments in March. Thus, it qualified to take part in the St. Louis World Championship in late April.

Industry mentor Solomon Chang linked strategy to their single loss this season.

“We didn’t seem to have a real strategic mentality going into that and … [that] was … rectified going into later rounds,” said Solomon.

Yet, Solomon looks back on it as a valuable learning experience for the team. It can now focus even more on “how the robot [can] improve.”

Now, The Cheesy Poofs are prioritizing work on their shooter’s accuracy and range. Ashwin Adulla ’18, a student leader, estimated “60-70%” shooting accuracy from “90 inches.”

“Going into champs, we want to increase that range to … 170 inches,” said Ashwin. Fixing the “shooter design and changing compression” are potential starting points.

At World’s, Ashwin predicted the robot advancing to “Finals” in its division. After the end of the season, the team will take a break and decide on the possibility of hosting an FRC summer camp. As for the robot, Ashwin thinks that Team 254 “will keep it in good shape” for outreach events in the future.

With space and machinery, Team 254 build its own fields yearly to test its robots and open it up to other teams as well. Mr. Peng Yav, a faculty mentor, reflects that the team’s 15+ years of experience leads other teams to seek their help. The team’s annual participation leads them to consistent success.

“We’re able to pass down that knowledge from year to year,” stated Mr. Yav.

Working with other teams and mentors allows students to take their skills “a step further.” For instance, industry mentors help students understand tricky problems such as in programming.

“Industry mentors needed to … help them … understand … camera calibration … and how to do image rectification,” said Solomon.

These solutions sometimes involve skills beyond most high school students like “linear algebra.” In these cases, industry mentors help in solving these problems as well. Aside from the team’s serious work, the students set aside time to laugh at funny incidents. For example, team member Jared Lyon ’20 boarded the wrong bus to SVR, which became a meme on the team chat.

“I took bus line 62 down there, went around the campus for an hour, completely confused,” said Jared.

Returning home, he found the right address and hopped onto the right bus this time.

“I got there three hours late, and yeah, now a meme #wrongbus.”