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How FIRST Robotics gets ready for its season

The Greenhills Lawnmowers FIRST Robotics team launches the 2017 season with this year’s kickoff event on the University of Michigan engineering campus Jan. 7. The team is excited about  this year’s competition, called “FIRST Steamworks,” which is sure to be interesting, as teams around the world have been told to “prepare to take flight.” 

And if you’re wondering what that means, just check out this pre-season teaser video:

[youtube id=”37GBEBLfhWA” width=”450″ height=”223″]


To get ready for the new season, students and mentors on the Greenhills team, also known as Team 5530, spent the fall developing team skills, completing educational and fun design challenges, and setting up their new shop space.

In October, students and mentors hit the road for a practice competition in Midland. Mich. This practice event provided a chance for new team members to become familiar with the excitement and energy of a match, and for the more seasoned players to further hone their leadership skills. At the match the team placed into a semifinal round and earned a Gracious Professionalism award.

In November, the team held its first  “driver tryout challenge,” which brought together new and old team members and their parents for a potluck dinner, games, and a presentation of team goals. Everyone had a chance to run the 2015-2016 robot through a challenging obstacle course designed to recruit new members to the drive team and help parents understand what makes robotics such an inspiring activity.

In December the team wrapped up their pre-season design challenges. Team 5530 uses these design challenges as a way to help students and mentors learn new skills while addressing important team needs. The challenges represent a key element of the team philosophy of inspiring all students to participate in and experience the many different opportunities that make up FIRST Robotics. This fall’s challenges included building a new CNC machine (CNC stands for “computer numeric control”), designing and constructing a functioning lift mechanism for the robot, programming new routines for the robot’s autonomous mode, and launching the team website, which you can visit at

December was also the month that Team 5530 moved into the new Robotics shop.

“We are so thankful for this room, because we can actually use the table saw and CNC machine without having to worry about leaving a huge mess in the physics classroom or in the hallway,” said junior Ramya Chigurupati. “Using this room will allow our team to become more efficient and successful at competitions. We’ll be better organized and more prepared to tackle the season.”

The move was supported by the addition of two new mentors from the University of Michigan College of Engineering’s FIRST Alumni and Mentors Network: Michelle Wang and Nicholas Eidsmoe.

Team 5530 is looking forward to an exciting 2017 season. Team member Justin Tseng ’18 summed it up:

“We build robots, we compete robots, we like robots,” he said on the team website.

Feel free to stop by the shop anytime to be inspired yourself and see what Robotics is all about.

—Greenhills science teacher R. Charles Dershimer
Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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