Joining Iron Reign

Tags: motivate
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Joining Iron Reign By Bhanaviya

Task: Reflect on my introduction into Iron Reign

My induction into Iron Reign began with my introduction to FTC. Last year, in the beginning of my 8th Grade term, I found out that my middle school, Schimelpfenig, was hosting tryouts for their FIRST ever (is there an award for bad puns?) team. I'd always been interested in automation, and being part of a robotics team seemed pretty exciting, so I tried out. 3 weeks later, I found out that I had made the team - I was ecstatic but I didn't really have much of an idea of what I signed up for; until the 2017-18 challenge, Relic Recovery had been released. This sent both me and my team members into a cycle of what I liked to call "constructive chaos". Or as others might call it, just chaos. We started out by dividing ourselves into 3 main subgroups - build, code and notebook. Although we started out divided, we eventually began to merge. By the end of the first 2 weeks, each member was in at least 2 sub-divisions. We found this method to be much more effective, since it allowed us to communicate with one another more efficiently. We weren't the most structured team, but we had a system. And as a rookie team, that was our first FIRST success.

When the time came for our first qualifier, none of us really knew what to expect. But we performed better than we had expected. This was true for our presentation and our first 3 matches; we had scored decently enough to be ranked under the top 10. The last two matches- not so much. Our robot knocked out the wrong jewel, blocked our partner and to top things off, stopped running in the middle of the game. I didn't have to be Mark Cuban to know that we weren't finalists. I wasn't quite upbeat about the awards ceremony. Until the judge got to Inspire awards. "3rd Place Inspire Award - SchimRobots!" 3rd Place wasn't the same as first, but it was a start. And then they got to the top 4 teams who had qualified to regionals. The first 2 alliances had qualified, and so had the first place inspire team. But lo behold! The second place inspire team had already qualified, which meant that our team was headed to regionals.

We didn't, however, qualify at regionals, which meant that that was my last competition with 12900. It wasn't an entirely bad day though- I found out that the winning alliance had won due to a penalty, and that had to be the most amusing event I'd seen all season. I didn't know who they were but I knew their robot. Earlier in the day, me and another team member had been scouting when we met a team who used 3D printed parts. The member we spoke to showed us their 3D printed drive system. That was the first time I had encountered a team who used 3D printers at that large of a scale. I was skeptical, since I'd never seen anything like it, but when I realized their robot had won, I was intrigued. That was my first impression of Iron Reign.

After joining TAG Magnet High School, I had heard about a Townview-wide FRC team, so I stayed back after school to look into that. A friend from my old robotics team had also come to the interest meeting. He wore our old team's FTC shirt, and though I questioned his logic at the time, that was how I became formally introduced to Iron Reign. Abhi (whom I later found out was the same member I had met during regionals) identified us by the FTC shirt and invited us to the SEM Robotics interest meeting. I vaguely remembered Iron Reign's 3D printed drive system from regionals. If working with Iron Reign meant that I could learn how to employ an unconventional strategy like that, then I was in. The interest meeting was intimidating, due to sheer number of people in the room, but it motivated me to start attending the meetings at our coach's house. I think the first lesson I learnt from Iron Reign was, "Find something to do." We had to make ourselves as useful as possible without expecting any guidance. Although it was a foreign idea to get used to, 2 months later it became a routine. It allowed me to learn from and communicate with members from all 4 teams, and the free-structured environment helped promote independence.

The first time I got to interact with Iron Reign in their natural, outreach-oriented habitat, was prior to my joining, during the STEM Spark event. Charlotte and Janavi taught me how to teach the attendees Sumo Bot Fighting. It was easier to observe and learn from them, rather than dive right into it myself. Later into the event, I was instructed to lead some of the afternoon sessions on my own, which had to be the most exciting part of the day.

3 weeks after the STEM Spark event was when I became recruited onto Iron Reign. It happened at 8:34 PM on the eve of Halloween when Mr Virani sent me an invitation. I was told of the commitments involved, the magnitude of joining, and to think carefully through my final decision. I was ecstatic, just as much as I was nervous. But then I recalled the challenge of working as part of a rookie FTC team, being expected, during Iron Reign meetings, to be as efficient as possible without being guided, and having to lead an outreach session which I had only seen being led by others. If I've learnt anything about Iron Reign, it's that learning from your environment, then learning how to best equip that knowledge, was the most efficient way to work in a team setting. The transition into this team is not meant to be easy; but it is meant to be an attainable goal. So, I agreed to join (in the most graciously professional manner, of course) -- and here we are. I'm still learning how Iron Reign's team dynamic operates and changes; but until then, I'm grateful for the opportunity, and excited to see what the season with Team 6832 holds.

Date | November 3, 2018