FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Introducing FIRST Diary of an Innovator Team 1466!

Oct 17, 2023 Written by Team 1466, Webb Robotics and FIRST Robotics Competition Staff




We are excited to introduce our FIRST® Diary of an Innovator Blog Series! This season, follow along as we hear from 4 FIRST® LEGO® League, 4 FIRST® Tech Challenge, and 4 FIRST® Robotics Competition teams from around the world about their season experience and the culture of innovation their team has created.  

These teams were selected from those who applied to participate in the Diary of an Innovator program earlier this year. In these initial posts, we’ll get to learn about the teams, their goals, and their plans for the CRESCENDOSM presented by Haas season.

Congratulations to the FIRST Robotics Competition Diary of an Innovator teams!  

  • Team 1466 Webb Robotics, Knoxville, TN, USA
  • Team 1880 Warriors of East Harlem, New York, NY, USA
  • Team 3316 D-Bug, Tel Aviv, Tel-Aviv, Israel
  • Team 6328 Mechanical Advantage, Littleton, Massachusetts, USA

This is the first set of blog posts you’ll see from each team over the season. In this first post, meet Team 1466, Webb Robotics!



Q: Can you give us a brief history of your team? 

A: We are Team 1466, Webb Robotics, from Knoxville, TN. Founded in 2004, we’re the oldest team in East Tennessee and the second oldest in the state. 1466 is housed at a small, independent PreK-12 school. We have attended the FIRST Championship as a team 5 times, most recently qualifying for the 2023 season.


Q: What makes your team unique? 

A: Collaboration is key for us. We have 3 FIRST LEGO League and 2 FIRST Tech Challenge teams sharing our lab space and working with us on outreach and activities. We create STEAM connections with other school clubs, even ones that may not seem to have much in common with Robotics (e.g. Mindfulness Club, Baking Club). We’re a 3rd year Open Alliance team, so we publicly share our CAD, code, and build documentation as we develop it through the season.



Q: How do you incorporate new team members and teach them the values of the team? 

A: We have regular meetings in the summer and fall, where we work on building technical skills and camaraderie with all our FIRST programs. Community outreach is a big part of our off-season. New and veteran members alike get to run events like SumoBot tournaments or FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff. New team members learn about robots as we prepare for robot demos and they learn about FIRST volunteering at events and service projects.


Q: How do you make sure new team members feel welcomed and valued? 

A: We don’t have rigid sub-team divisions, so team members can contribute across multiple interest areas. We welcome students who have other commitments, too (jobs, band, athletics, theater, etc.) and help them get involved remotely or socially even when they can’t be at the lab for every meeting. Team members are encouraged to try out the technical and non-technical subfields. When we convene for a full team discussion at the start of our meetings, we make sure to acknowledge and celebrate the work of all sub-teams and members.


Q: This season is all about the role STEM plays in the arts. What are some ways your team ties creativity and art into your STEM activities? 

A: We’ve focused recently on celebrating artistic endeavors. We developed a new team logo and brand through lots of iterations and feedback last season. We made a new pit banner, a few different shirts, and button designs. We focused on making better videos (vlogs, recaps, reels) and art for our team, so we identified and recruited teammates with those interests. We try to see (and pitch) robotics as a different way for artists to share their talents. We also want to share our robotics work with the community in fun ways.



Q: How did you come up with those ideas? 

A: We take our final products seriously, but our prototyping involves a lot of exploration - whether in robot design, team branding, or videography. We analyze everything, even really out-there ideas. While we might laugh at the lack of reality in some concepts, this stage is where a lot of our creativity comes out. These inside jokes sometimes find a way into final designs, or at least get highlighted in media projects. For CHARGED UPSM presented by Haas, we had a “SpongeBob” theme to our robot mechanisms that originated from the off-hand naming of a very goofy energy-chain-based prototype.


Q: What inspired you? 

A: We are inspired by other FIRST teams: Open Alliance teams, Chief Delphi discussions, and YouTube videos. We also have mentors with years of experience, so they can bring up iconic, innovative elements or robot designs that we can emulate. Discussing game-play styles and strategies brings up examples from years past. We also enjoy watching season recap videos and interviews for inspiration.


Q: How is your team preparing for the upcoming season? 

A: We’ve been competing in off-season competitions to get ready for new challenges. We attended SCRAP in South Carolina in July, with a small crew of mostly our 2024 leadership. This trip gave that core group a chance to work together under pressure. In September, we attended our local RoboRodeo competition and brought lots of rookie team members so that they could experience FIRST up close. We have one more South Carolina off-season event (SCRIW) in October.


Q: What do you anticipate being a challenge this season? 

A: Sticking to a strict build timeline will be a challenge. This year, our home event is early in week 2. We will have less time than usual to design, manufacture, and program our robot. Back in the 2022 season, we never really settled on a buildable robot design and struggled to get something done. We did things differently in 2023, set up some good habits to follow a timeline, and completed a robot early. We still have some areas to improve, like getting manufactured robot parts done faster. For 2024, we hope we can select a robot strategy early and design within our limits. That'll give us the best start possible for the CRESCENDO presented by Haas season.

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