Posted on the 19th July 2021
Written by Patrice

Inspire Award Winner — Team GroundX

About the team

Hi, we are GroundX. We are a group of 6th form students who are studying at Outwood Academy Newbold in Chesterfield.

We started with the FIRST Tech Challenge UK last year and went on to win the regional Inspire Award! We were highly looking forward to London, but due to Covid, this could not happen! This did not stop us from trying our best this year under the conditions we have been through.
Our team comprises of different people studying different subjects, from Art to Computer Science. Each of us has different interests and goals, but we all shared one common goal, to compete to our best abilities to make an awesome robot!

How the team worked together

We started to work remotely over Google Meet to start with when the pandemic first hit. When the lockdown happened and the schools were shut down, we were put into a limbo situation. We communicated using Google Classroom in order to work remotely, but this was no replacement for face to face teamwork.
We also tried some “ingenious” ways of working remotely. Our Team Lead, Mr Priestley, had to self-isolate in November. This meant that we technically could not work in the robotics workshop as we were unsupervised. Lara, our team’s programmer, put together a program that allowed Mr Priestley to communicate over Google Meet, but to also control the robot remotely from home using a Python/Java Command Interface.

Significant challenges

As stated in the previous section, the biggest issue and challenge we had to overcome was the fact we could not work remotely or together for a long period of time due to the pandemic, so we found this very difficult. The best way we found to overcome this challenge was to change tactics. Instead of focusing on the robot itself, we focussed on the things around it, such as match strategy and the designs. We also planned out fundraising ideas (some of which we are going to reuse next year!).
This actually benefited us as we were able to get a good grasp of the rules, and from that could design and develop our robot to meet the challenges needed to gain the most amount of points.

About winning the Inspire Award

We are blown away with winning the Inspire Award for a second time in a row. This shows how much effort and dedication we put into everything, even through all of the troubles of late. We are taking this momentum and are going to bring it forward to next season to end our journey on a high with a possible third attempt at the Inspire!

We would like to thank our Mentor from ARM, Joes, for his support early on with the development of the robot’s navigation code for the autonomous stage.
We would also like to thank our Team Leads, Mr Priestley and Mr Combe, who have supported us and allowed us to achieve everything we have aimed to do!

Next steps for the team

We are going to bring all of our knowledge and planning to next season. We aim to get started as soon as possible to improve on aspects we lack in, such as CAD design for the casing. This will allow us to make a great robot worthy of three years of effort.

We also want to mentor the next generation of GroundX, as we are all going to be in Year 13, meaning we are near the end of the road. We hope they will take our enthusiasm and joy of robotics to a new audience of students past our time.

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