FRC Team 1718, The Fighting Pi was founded in 2005, out of the rural Armada's Macomb Academy of Arts & Sciences with 15 original members and two dedicated mentors. Our first meeting was held on October 1, 2005. In our rookie year we were awarded the Great Lakes Regional Rookie All-Star Award, establishing a base for our team's continued success. At the end of the 2013 season we enacted our business risk analysis plan when we received the news that we would no longer be able to use the Romeo Ford Engine Plant for our build space and faced the task of migrating to the Macomb Academy of Arts & Sciences. The initial move was daunting, but as we settled into the more adequate and widespread build space we were able to comfortably adjust. In addition, our team lost a key business mentor and a mechanical mentor during the 2013 season to health issues. Luckily, through the dedication of new volunteers and mentors we were able to fill these roles with mentors who assisted in mechanical and reorganizing the business team into a new, more efficient organizational structure. In 2014, a week before we had to present at the Michigan State Championship, our business captain, and lead chairman's presenter was unable to attend, fortunately because of our risk analysis plan, we had a well prepared back-up individual to replace him. Through all of these hardships our team has endured, we continue to stay close knit & work together to succeed.
Through FIRST, our members have learned a variety of technical skills that apply to everyday life. We have learned the basics of machining, modeling, electronics, programming, teamwork, leadership, public relations, communication, business, and composition. FRC participation has taught us to set goals and manage a project from start to finish, comparable to experiences in the business world. Since starting our team, 94% of our graduates have gone on to pursue engineering degrees.
Our team has a strong determination and perseverance to spread FIRST since our rookie year. We have started a total of ten FIRST teams of all types (FRC, FLL and Jr. FLL). We have close relationships with our established teams; we offer them practice space where we build, engineering assistance, and any other type of assistance they made need. In doing so, all of the teams have been successful.
In our weekly newsletter that is sent to past and present sponsors, team members, alumni, and schools in the area, we stress the importance of FIRST. The newsletter entails robot and subgroup progress as well as information regarding all on-goings of FIRST. Our team website additionally contains sponsor information, links, a calendar of upcoming events, a newsletter archive, a team history by year, pictures, district event details, and links to other FIRST teams.
Each year, our team holds meetings, parties, and barbeques that promote team unity outside of team building activities. It provides a strong cooperative feeling amongst all team affiliates. Not only are students and teachers invited, mentors and sponsors are welcome too. Our supporters are collegially thanked both personally by sending a private letter expressing our team's gratitude and publicly using the weekly newsletter.
Our team has attracted students from five neighboring schools, so the message of FIRST has spread rapidly throughout multiple communities. The majority of our members attend Macomb Academy of Arts and Sciences for half the day and spend the rest of their day based at their home school. With our team comprised of members from so many different schools, we have taken the first steps to expand FIRST in our area. This diversity helped us to start multiple FLL teams as well as additional FRC teams and a Jr. FLL team.
Since our rookie year, we have made great strides to expand our size and who we reach. We have grown from fifteen members from three school districts to a team of fifty with five districts involved. The number of girls on our team has expanded from three to seventeen. There has been an increase in excitement and eagerness within our team to spread the message of FIRST. Instead of dividing our school between morning and afternoon, the robotics team has brought them closer together.
"FIRST isn't about knowing." With the number of inexperienced members exceeding experienced members, this is our team's motto. As a young team, no outside experience is required. Our main focus is to educate newer students with the basics of tool use, team guidelines, and building components. This is done so new members can gain valuable skills and experiences throughout the season. Veteran members help them with side projects not directly related to the robot. Through this transition both new and returning members realize that FIRST incorporates "dedication and responsibility" while "bringing people together to work toward a common goal." FIRST "shows there are many ways to solve an engineering problem." FIRST helps show society the science and technology world - a world of engineering. It takes fundamental ideas and transforms them in such a powerful way that they're steadfastly embedded in participant's minds. With all this change, we have to remember where we all started.
Our team's rookie year was 2006. We went to the Championships by winning the Rookie All-Star Award. Following that unbelievable experience, we've become serious, committed, and passionate about spreading the message of FIRST to the world. That year, Team 1718 consisted of only 15 members. In 2007, we grew to 20 students. We now have 50 members, with a core group of seniors.
FIRST impacts every member of our team in a new way each day. We've learned how to dismantle and reassemble a transmission, discovered how pneumatics work, uncovered programming breakthroughs, and understand the basics of teamwork. Through these experiences our team members are provided with "the opportunity to apply science and technology in the real world." Team members welcome these life lessons with excitement and intrigue. It's only natural that we want to share this experience with others. Every time we meet there's a camera at hand. It's hard to rid our eyes of the colorful blurs from their flashes. These pictures are found in our team trailer, posted on YouTube, weekly newsletters, and our website.
Through the FIRST program, our team believes that anyone can turn professional.