FIRST Robotics Competition runs annual high school robotics competitions, with the goal of inspiring students to pursue STEM. Around forty fields are built, shipped domestically and internationally, and assembled and disassembled by volunteers for every single event. As one of three mechanical engineers and two engineering techs in a multidisplinary team, I was the mechanical team's liaison to the game design group, helping develop the initial game concept and guiding the game design team towards technical feasible designs. Additionally, I designed the mechanical structure for the "cargo ship", its actuated ball release, and early iterations of the "rocket ship". I was also responsible for the overall aesthetics of the game.
I worked with the game design team to come up with the initial game concept and to make sure that it was technically feasible from a mechanical point of view. This included determining field layout, the main components robots would interact with, and any actuated mechanisms on the field.
I designed the "Cargo Ship", which was aimed at giving low-resource robots an easier challenge, without looking like a less vital part of the game. The design consisted of a series of easy to assemble saluminum frames, polycarbonate sheeting, and actuated trays that release the balls early in the game. These used an electromagnet coupled to a steel block on a rotating axle.
I worked on the initial concepts and early prototypes of the Rocket Ship, including determining the main mechanism for robots to interact with it. Along with another engineer, I also spent some time looking into the feasibility of "raising" the rocket - we ultimately discarded that design because it exceeded the power limitations of the field.
During the early stages of design, I brainstormed various mechanical concepts for components on the field (examples below are for Panel Delivery and the Shutter system). As we got further into the process, these components were delegated to different people in the mechanical design team.
At the beginning of the match, balls are stored in the hoppers. When a robot runs into the push-bar, the balls spill out of the hopper.