You may have seen Vandegrift athletes, dancers, and band members sweating it out in the heat on practice and marching fields, preparing for upcoming competitions and performances. Less visible, but no less dedicated in their preparation, are the ViperBots teams, who have dedicated most of the month of August to prepare for the 2014-2015 First Tech Challenge (FTC) season.

Summer work began with a “rookie” camp, which schooled new team members in all areas of robotics work and design. The detailed, four-day program included computer-aided design (CAD); hardware design, maintenance, and troubleshooting; and programming. Veteran team members were on hand to instruct and guide new members on the finer points of FTC rules and gaming.

New ViperBots exercise precision teamwork during robot assembly.

Said ViperBots Director Irad Allen, “I was totally impressed by what our ViperBots rookies built in two days.  Our first year ViperBots will begin the season with all the tools and skills they need to build some awesome robots for the 2014-2015 season. I am especially proud of our Veterans, who planned, organized, and ran the camp 100% all on their own.”

Camp concluded with a team-designed, simulated competition. The practice game gave many new members their first opportunity to experience the pressures of an FTC-style match.

ViperBots practice their driving skills and strategy during a spirited competition round.

Although ViperBots had just finished working long hours with rookies, they were eager to jump right back in the very next week to help the local middle schoolers. Rookies also joined the teaching experience armed with their newly learned skills. Using the same one-on-one instruction strategies, ViperBots assisted FPMS and CRMS students in the same principles taught in the rookie camp, and eventually ended the camp with a successfully simulated FTC-styled match.

“Helping these kids and watching them build awesome robots was really inspirational, and I can’t wait for them to join ViperBots when they’re older,” said ViperBots project manager Linnea May.

ViperBots lead middle school students in team-building exercises.

Finally, ViperBots turned their attention to making sure their work space and inventory are in tip-top shape before “real” work begins on this year’s game. Details of the competition will be revealed world-wide on September 6, 2014. With that announcement, the ViperBots season officially begins.



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ViperBots Jumpstart 2014-2015 Season
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