Sprocketeers debut in recent competitions

Robotics accommodates new arrivals by creating a lower-division group for the FIRST Tech Challenge.

With almost 100  students wanting to participate in robotics this year,  Diamond Bar High School’s Team Sprocket captains have decided to create a new, lower-level team, the Sprocketeers.

Despite having around 95 students on the original team, the Sprocketeers only have around 12 members.

“Everyone has a lot more of an impact on the team overall than on Sprocket, since each person makes up a higher percentage of the whole team,” sophomore Quang Phung said.

They were placed in a lower division of the FIRST robotics competition, similar to a junior varsity-level sports team. The original team remains in the FIRST Robotics Challenge, while the new group is a part of the FIRST Tech Challenge.

“We want to give as many people the opportunity to be on the team as possible,”  senior co-captain Jessica Yen said. “[What] we thought of was ‘okay, what if we start a younger team?’”

 Yen explained that the members of the Sprocketeers would have less experience and expertise than the more seasoned Team Sprocket members. Yen said that if the Sprocketeers are a success, they hope to have around 120 members next year between the two teams.

“It’s something that we’re experimenting with so that maybe next year, the FRC team can actually expand the team, and the younger members can actually join the FTC team first before they go to the FRC team,” she said.

According to Yen, adding another competing team was fairly simple. All it took was a registration, looking for and receiving grants and purchasing another robot kit with all the parts.

The registration was an online process that included a payment for the kit and other requirements. A few grants that the Sprocketeers received this year were from the Arconic Foundation, Boeing and a rookie grant from the FIRST Tech Challenge program.

The rookie grant is designed to pay for team registrations for rookie teams. This grant and the Boeing grant were $500 each while the Arconic Foundation presented $1,000 to the team.

There are around 18,000 Tech Challenge teams registered globally, but only around 8,000 are competing. As a new group, the Sprocketeers are just getting started; they placed 5th in their first meet held in November at the Webb Schools in Claremont; 10th in their second, also at the Webb Schools, and, more recently, third in their third competition at  Harvey Mudd College in Claremont on Saturday. Their next competition will take place on Jan. 11.

Like the original Team Sprocket, the Sprocketeers meet twice a week from 3-6 p.m. to work on their programming.

“The Sprocketeers have the potential to grow and grow through the next few years,” Phung said. “My ideal vision of the team is that the Sprocketeers will eventually gain an equal presence in DBHS as Team Sprocket has.”

As the Sprocketeers season comes to an end, the Sprockets season will start in January.