Stewart said, “Actually getting to build things” is one of his favorite parts to the competition.
“I’ve always been into robotics and I love to build things,” Stewart said.
For the kickoff event, 49 teams from across the state picked up their robot kits with 31 teams staying to build the robots that afternoon in a “quick build session.” Markum said the session is a Stillwater product that began two years ago and was adopted by FIRST last year.
“This puts the Oklahoma teams ahead of the other teams that don’t stay,” Markum said. He said it takes teams with no experience about two weeks to build a robot where as a team that stays can build one in four hours since there is experienced help available to answer questions.
Of the teams to stay were 20 students forming the Meridian Technology Center robotics team. It is the third year for the school to have a team of mostly high school sophomores through seniors.
David Barth, a Pre-Engineering Academy instructor, said 90-percent of the students are in the technology center’s Pre-Engineering Academy, information technology, and computer drafting programs.
“These are kids that want to be here. They are not getting an extra grade,” said Barth, one of the four team advisers.
For Saturday’s event, Barth said the team’s goal was simple. He said, “We want to have a robot that is actually drivable.” To accomplish this, the group worked from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to build the robot with the students split into four groups focusing on electronics, framing, programming and transmissions.
The students then have six weeks to build a robot before Fed Ex, a FIRST sponsor, picks up the robot to store until the March 25-27 regional competition in Oklahoma City, FIRST Oklahoma Regional Director Harold Holley said.