Inventor and FIRST® Founder Dean Kamen launched the 2015 FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) season with the Kickoff of a new robotics game called RECYCLE RUSHSM before a crowd of more than 800 people at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., hometown of FIRST Headquarters. Nearly 75,000 high-school students on approximately 3,000 teams at 107 venues around the globe joined the 2015 Kickoff via live Comcast NBCUniversal broadcast.
RECYCLE RUSH is a recycling-themed game played by two Alliances of three robots each. Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all game pieces used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST at the end of the season.
At the Kickoff, FIRST Robotics Competition teams were shown the RECYCLE RUSH playing field and received a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components worth tens of thousands of dollars – and only limited instructions.
To commemorate the upcoming season, the 2015 Sciborgs met with new and returning advisors, discussed ideas for success, and had their first meet of the season. Spirits were high and all the members were more than ready to build their robots. Despite the crowded room, students, teachers, advisors, and parents enthusiastically discussed their agenda with each other.
The Sciborgs were formed in November of 2002 by three teachers and eight students, at The Bronx High School of Science, with the help of a Professor at Manhattan College. It was a rough start for the founding members though. When the team was started, there was little support from the school as well as very little funding to run a team that usually takes $50,000 to run. The team had too few tools, too small a work force and, as is the way of Bronx Science students, a 2 hour train ride home for each member. But as is also the way of Bronx Science Students, the team completed their robot and went on to compete at the NYC Regionals.
With the new school year at hand it came time to recruit new members. With most of the original team still intact, they set out upon the school and recruited a new set of about eight students. The new workspace for the team moved to Manhattan College and a new teacher, Mr.Omoloju, as well as new mentor, Jon Cook, had joined the team. With more students and growing interest, the team began to expand. With sponsors such as the Bronx Science Alumni, The Hennessey Family Foundation, Con-Edison, and the support of the school and family, the Sciborgs had a promising year ahead. After six weeks of work the team had created an award winning robot. At the 2004 NYC regionals the team reached the quarter finals and won the Delphi “Driving Tomorrow’s Technology” Award for an innovative stair climbing mechanism.
With the ’03-’04 year gone, most of the original team has graduated and the team lost 3 mentors. But with every graduation, there is a new freshmen class and new mentors. The team has grown in popularity within Bronx Science. The new year brought a multitude of new faces and skills, totaling over 60 members. The team’s new strength and numbers brought a much needed boost. The Sciborgs shop was relocated to a shop room within Bronx Science. As the ’04-’05 game was released, “Stack Attack”, build season kicked in and once again, according to the rules of FIRST, the robot was shipped off and competition was at hand. The team once again climbed the ladder and made it to the quarter finals. But as an added bonus, thanks to great leadership and organization, the team was awarded the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Entrepreneurship Award for great business planning and organization.
In ’05-’06 the team was a force to be reckoned with in Bronx Science, boasting over 60 members with more to come in the freshmen class. Not only had the sponsorship of the team increased funds to a $35,000 budget but with the new budget came a new mentor, Thomas Redding, a colleague of current mentor Jon Cook, and other new members. In all of the outreach to local community centers and word of mouth, the team recruited 2 core members from Hostos-Lincoln Academy for Science as well as two new 12th grade members and a multitude of freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Work continued on and as always, starting in January and going for six weeks, the robot was completed to compete in the “Aim High Challenge”. Along with robot building the team held computer classes at a local nursing home, Women in Engineering day and various other programs. The outreach program had increased tenfold and at the ’06 NYC regional, the Sciborgs were ready. Reaching the quarter-finals for the third year in a row was a disappointing blow, but not for long. The hard work and community outreach had paid off, because at the awards ceremony the Sciborgs won the Regional Engineering Inspiration Award, allowing them entrance into the Championships held in Atlanta, Georgia. The Georgia trip was one for the record books for the Sciborgs. it was the team's first trip to the International championships and a long deserved trip after 3 years of dedicated work.
The ’06-’07 year brought many of the same things as years before - new members, new mentors, more funding and more robotics. But this year brought all of that, multiplied by two. With help from Sponsor Barry Weinberg, the Sciborgs worked with their female colleagues to form an all girls robotics team to build, compete and share ideas along side with. Both teams worked together in the same shop space to create two unique robotics designs to compete at NYC. The Sciborgs competed at both NJ and NYC regionals. At NJ, the Sciborgs were regional finalists thanks to their teammates and the monster defense driving brought by team captain, George Hsieh. At NYC, thanks to their new sister team the IRON “Fe” Maidens and consistent community outreach, they won the highest honor that FIRST awards, The Regional Chairman’s Award, as well as making it to the quarter finals. Their sister team, after only 5 months in creation and many community programs held, was awarded the Rookie All Star Award. These accomplishments granted BOTH teams entrance into the Championships. Once again giving them a chance to compete in the International finals.
The Sciborgs were the Connecticut Regional quarter-finalists and NYC Regional quarter-finalists in 2008. In 2009, the team won the Rockwell Automation and Innovation in Control Award and were NYC Regional finalists and the winner of the Connecticut Regional. The Sciborgs were once again finalists at the 2010 NYC Regional and won the Pit Safety Award. In 2012 and 2013, the team were NYC Regional quarter-finalists.
Since then, the team has continued to grow, gaining new recruits and mentors yearly. More and more students are finding an interest and a passion in engineering and technology as they find their niche in the Sciborgs and FeMaidens community. The '14-'15 year has brought new changes, thanks to the support of the Bronx Science Alumni Association. Preparation for a new, expanded construction shop began and was finally unveiled in January. With new tools, a new captain and an everlasting spirit, the team will be heading into competition carrying knowledge, determination and probably a Taylor Swift cardboard cutout.
PICTURES TO COME!