FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Diary of an Innovator: Team 1466 Season Wrap-Up

May 06, 2024 Written by Team 1466, Webb Robotics and FIRST Robotics Competition Staff




During the 2023-2024 FIRST® season, we followed four FIRST® LEGO® League, four FIRST® Tech Challenge, and four FIRST® Robotics Competition Diary of an Innovator teams about their season experience and the culture of innovation their team has created.

This is the final blog post from Team 1466 Webb Robotics for this season! You can read their first and second post on the FIRST® Robotics Competition blog.


Q: What innovation are you most proud of this season?

A: The robot innovation we are most proud of are our passive climbing hooks. Climbing onto and staying on the Stage were priorities for our robot design, but it took us until just days before our first regional event to complete this design priority. We tried close to a dozen climber hook shapes and gear ratios on our climbing arm, with none providing just enough torque to hold the robot on stage at the end of the match. With just a few days left to complete the design, we took inspiration from a simple carabiner and some climbing styles we saw from robots in 2022. We designed and prototyped a pair of passive hooks, ones that didn’t interfere with our climb, but caught the chain and held the robot off of the floor at the end of a match. The passive hooks were made without CAD or careful measurements, just testing to get the design right. We cut out each iteration on a bandsaw. It worked perfectly on the field through all of our events!



Q: Describe your team’s event experience this season:

A: We had a busy competition season. Our first event was our home regional, the Smoky Mountains Regional, filled with teams we know well. We saw so many unique robot designs revealed. We served as student ambassadors and some of our mentors volunteered. Our robot was running well and we played in the playoffs. We were thrilled to pick up the Creativity Award - the first time we’ve won that award - and one of our mentors was recognized as a Woodie Flowers Finalist. 

Magnolia Regional was our spring break. We had a small crew which meant more responsibility for everyone there. There were more challenges, too. Our digital scouting system wasn’t working, so we switched to a paper system created on the spot. Robot issues plagued us, keeping our pit crew working non-stop. We still had so much fun. The team social gave us an opportunity to celebrate together and meet teams in a relaxed environment. We played in the playoffs, though our robot issues continued and we were out earlier than we’d hoped. We did, however, pick up another Creativity Award, which was fun and unexpected.

Our last regional was the Rocket City Regional. This was our largest event, featuring plenty of local teams along with ones from other parts of the US and other countries. Our robot was running well throughout and our drive team had the chance to really coordinate their play well with alliance partners. We enjoyed Rocket City staples like Tiara Friday and a visit to the Saturn V rocket. Saturday was the day of our school’s prom back home, so many of our team members got dressed up for playoffs instead.



Q: What was your favorite part? 

A: Our media success this season led to getting lots of recognition locally and at each of our events. Dozens of students and mentors approached our team, recognizing us from our Instagram, YouTube, and Diary of an Innovator. This opened up so many doors and opportunities for conversations and partnerships that we might not have otherwise had. We got to collaborate with teams from Mexico and Brazil on videos for their social media. We worked with or assisted teams from across the US and all over the world this season. We were pretty humbled to receive the Gracious Professionalism® Award at our last regional, where the judges commended us on how we’ve used social media and our local connections to promote STEM.


Q: Reflecting on the season, what is the one lesson you’ll carry with you going forward? 

A: One lesson from this year was maintaining a positive outlook on our progress and accomplishments. Throughout the highs and lows of the build and competition seasons, it was easy to get wrapped up in our shortcomings and small details we wished we had done differently. We debriefed together as a team after each of the events this season, remembering and recognizing what went well and fixing what went wrong. Our list of things that went well was always so much longer than our list of things to fix. This really helped us focus on the positives. It also gave us a chance to recognize the efforts and contributions of everyone on the team. We want to maintain a culture of growth that will help us succeed in the future.



Q: What tips do you have for new teams preparing for their first season? 

A: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The FIRST community is very welcoming and we all want to see new teams succeed and grow. Reach out to other teams for advice. Connections across teams are what push innovation forward for all of us. We had a great time interacting with rookie teams in our area and at our events this year. Also, the KitBot is a very useful resource for robot design for new team members. It's a great template for teams and can be altered to fit your goals. We’re planning to have our team’s new members build a KitBot this fall.


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