Last Saturday, January 7, was a great day for The Wire Clippers and other seacoast robotics teams! A group of us went to Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in Hooksett to the live kickoff and got to hear Dean Kamen and Maggie Hassen speak on some very important subjects before we became part of the live stream broadcast around the world. New Hampshire is the only kickoff in the world with a fully assembled playing field so it was amazing for us to go in and see the field all set up. We took lots of photos and measurements and picked up our kit of parts for the season.
Meanwhile back at New Heights in Portsmouth, we hosted kickoff for the rest of our team as well as Dover Shockwave, and the St Thomas Robosaints.  The teams mixed themselves up and dove deep into the game manuals in small groups facilitated by team members and mentors. After discussing the game manuals they came back together and explained what they learned. It was great to have different teams working together to shed new light and experience on to the rules. The game manual this year weighs in at over 125 pages, so there are no shortage of rules to discuss.
When the teams from SNHU got back we shared what we learned and then took a pizza break. After eating close to 30 pizzas and hanging out a little with each other we were all fueled up and ready to go for the afternoon CAD (cardboard aided design) session. The groups split once again into mixed teams to tackle the afternoon task. They developed strategies as well as a cardboard mockup of a robot. Then we all got back together to share our models. Lots of cool ideas were discussed and each of the models had different ways of solving the game challenges.
There were close to 80 team members and mentors in attendance. A few months ago, a group of mentors for all the teams got together and created a plan for us to have a line of communication between the teams so we can ask questions and help each other. We’re excited to make more connections within the FIRST community. ┬áThis was the start of a collaboration we hope to continue throughout the 2017 season and beyond!