With the final awards show of the year coming up on June 26, I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about who the Hall of Fame awardees could be this year, and scouting teams’ submissions.
A certain few teams seriously impressed me with their submissions and how they have impacted FIRST and the community around them. I then predicted a couple teams to be finalists, and one team to be a winner. As these are solely based on my read of the essays, this has no chance of being completely accurate.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts and predictions.
1156, Under Control: 1156’s work in Brazil simply cannot be understated. With difficulties accessing the Kit of Parts come Kickoff, underfunding in public schools, and more, Under Control has risen to the occasion. Between providing published resources, hosting seminars, running tournaments, appearing in the media, and actively mentoring teams, 1156 has reached over 12 million people. By ensuring that all the teams in their home country are sustainable, Under Control has cemented themself as a top-quality FIRST program.
1622, Team Spyder: Known for their ubiquity at regionals all around the continent, 1622 is no slouch when it comes to impact on the FIRST community. Team Spyder has hosted 16 competitions, started 76 teams, and assisted over a thousand teams since 2018. Since 2019, 1622 has helped FIRST Global teams from five countries, and continues their support with the teams after the event. SWE has recognized Spyder as a top-quality program for their virtual STEM Career Series. As far as I am aware, they are the one co-ed team with a 100% female student leadership board.
1678, Citrus Circuits: The Peer-to-Peer education model that 1678 has adopted has captivated FRC to the yearly success they have. Their Davis Youth Robotics program provides a free robotics education program to 38 teams throughout 11 elementary and middle schools, serving 130 students yearly through 8 weeks of camps. The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop DYR, as the Citrus Circuits personally delivered all kits to students’ homes for optimal success. In addition, 1678’s Citrus Service program has helped 275 unique teams over the past 5 years field the best robot they can.
1868, Space Cookies: 1868 has been inspiring girls in their community to go into STEM for over 15 years. In just the past 5 years, the Space Cookies have logged over 10,000 hours of outreach at over 150 events. They have organized and run 87 weeks of free STEM programs for kids in the past 2 years, reaching over 700 kids. They piloted the Girl Scouts STEM badge, and help young girls achieve it. 1868 has started, mentored, and assisted hundreds of teams worldwide. They are working to remove the stigma behind menstruation by making menstrual products available and free at all of their post-COVID events.
2341, Sprockets: As a small team, 2341 has an especially large impact. They hold 29 different STEM-related outreach events per year, and are working to bring them back safely. They successfully advocated Oklahoma’s Career Tech Board of Education to include FIRST as an elective credit in all schools. Their STEM on Wheels grant takes robotics to the most impoverished parts of their state, reaching 100 kids in 2019. Members of the Sprockets also took the opportunity to mentor FLL teams in Africa. Locally, 2341 shares their practice field and manufacturing facility with over 10 teams.
2468, Team Appreciate: 2468 does it all, from government advocacy, mentoring teams at all levels, creating assistive technology through their Lilypad initiative, and hosting a virtual speaker series in response to Champs being cancelled. They have started 49 teams throughout the progression of programs and spent 192 hours training FTC teams within just the last 5 years. In addition, Team Appreciate pioneered FIRST Signing Day, celebrating graduating seniors who had their seasons upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. 2468 regularly reaches thousands without breaking a sweat.
2486, CocoNuts: The pandemic changed all of our lives a lot, and 2486 is no stranger to that. Their COVID Registration and Relief Grant has helped numerous teams stay afloat. The CocoNuts are persistent and outspoken in their government advocacy, appearing at the Arizona State Capitol and the U.S. Capitol for the past five years. 2486 has helped to pioneer STEM in the Navajo Nation in Arizona, helping to negate concerns about costs. In addition to hosting Arizona’s FTC State Championship yearly, they hosted some of the first remote events and have been great resources to others adopting that model.
3284, Camdenton LASER: During the pandemic, 3284 has stepped up their community impact to even greater heights. They safely participated in food drives for their district’s population, in which 54% qualify for free and reduced lunch. LASER is a frequent fixture at the Missouri State Capitol, doing advocacy at all levels. They have hosted Chairman’s Exchanges at 7 regionals, helping teams step up their game all over the country. When the pandemic hit, 3284’s members worked to create 3500+ face shields for frontline workers. LASER has been a true inspiration worldwide.
3847, Spectrum: If you’re reading this, 3847 has likely had a sizable impact on you. From their open build blogs year to year to their webcasting of events to their all-encompassing Recommended Reading, Spectrum has made it clear that they have a vested interest in raising the floor throughout FIRST. But, there’s more! 3847 is prolific in outreach throughout Houston, including participating in food drives, hosting courses and events that are free to the public, and doing demos at businesses. Spectrum hosts the Texas Robotics Invitational, regarded as one of the best off-season events held.
6025, Adroit Androids: This young team from Turkey has not let age be a barrier. Their Adroit Method provides a well-rounded model for teams looking for a strategic approach to running a team. 6025 organizes Kickoff events, hosts camps throughout their country, and runs several online events. The Adroit Androids consistently support other teams, even getting grants for supplying several robot parts for other teams. Having attended 72 outreach events and directly partnered with 20 foundations, this young team has already had an impact that will last for years to come.
Finalists: 3284, 2468, 1156
503, Frog Force: To put it simply, 503 has won the most Chairman’s Awards in FRC for good reason. From being active in The Compass Alliance, helping teams remain sustainable even through the greatest challenges, beta testing sponsors’ products to be used by other teams, and pioneering outreach event formats in the age of COVID-19, Frog Force has gone above and beyond in being a role model team for others. They have helped start over 70 teams in the Detroit metro alone. 503, with the help of their school and sponsors, produced over 4,400 pieces of personal protective equipment.
694, StuyPulse: For 694, the sky’s the limit. Despite having 170 members, StuyPulse finds a way to include everyone without any application process. They host events, mentor teams, and hold an open workshop in NYC. Their Fix-It Crew and Mobility Missionaries help other teams at every competition. 694 raised money for and mentored FLL teams in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. StuyPulse was one of the original partner teams in spreading FIRST in China. With their consistent presence in NYC, they’ve cemented their Chairman’s program to be as good as any.
772, Sabre Bytes Robotics: 20 years in FIRST didn’t stop 772 from stepping up their efforts during COVID. In the past 3 years, the Sabre Bytes have assisted almost 60 teams. They partnered with another team to build UV sterilization carts to be donated within their local community. 772’s virtual projects promote the ideals they believe in, including Project Shield which promotes physical health and Project Synthesis which runs panels on topics such as Women in STEM, BLM, and Indigenous Acknowledgement. Their FLL Without Borders program has reached 5 countries since its inception in 2017.
2168, Aluminum Falcons: A newer player in the Chairman’s game, 2168 has quickly risen up the ranks to compete with the best of them. Using the virtual season as an opportunity to grow their program, 2168 has improved team engagement among its student body. They assisted 72 teams during the pandemic, and sent out care packages to local senior centers. The Falcons have logged almost 4,000 outreach hours in the past 3 years, and this didn’t stop with COVID. A hospital in New York City even reached out directly to 2168 for help producing PPE!
2220, Blue Twilight: 2220 runs a model program from their backyard to across the ocean. Eagan FIRST Programs supports the whole progression, and is ubiquitous at Minnesota events. Blue Twilight’s WIRES initiative has helped girls on the team thrive. Their advocacy at the UN helped teams around the world. During the pandemic, 2220 collaborated with other teams to make face shields and ear savers, built STEM kits for youth affected by protests in the Twin Cities, donated STEM-at-Home kits to a homeless shelter, and developed a Robot VPN program allowing people to drive robots remotely.
3504, Girls of Steel: Not only did 3504 survive the pandemic, they thrived. Their team structure ensures that everyone on the team is set up for success, making leadership and technical prowess accessible to anyone. Over the past 3 years, the Girls of Steel have attended 180 events and reached over 10,000 people. Their Chassis Project demonstrates to anyone that they are capable of building robots. They co-host the Steel City Showdown offseason event and are active in the Steel City Robotics Alliance. As directors of FIRST Ladies, 3504 is a role model to girls throughout FIRST.
3928, Team Neutrino: 3928 has brought STEM to their entire community with help from their host university. They have started teams at 7 of 8 schools in their district, run 29 summer camps which have taught almost 500 students, and made 50 STEM kits for elementary schoolers. Their Stay-At-Home STEAM series on YouTube has over 3,300 views. Team Neutrino’s grant program has provided over $5,000 in funds to over 30 teams since its inception in 2015. 3928 has logged 3,050 hours reaching 38,517 people at 52 outreach events in the past 3 years, with 100% team member participation.
4253, Raid Zero: It’s not every day that one team founds an entire country’s FRC program and makes it into a model for others to follow around the world. 4253 has done exactly that in Taiwan. They have started all 38 other FRC teams in Taiwan, inviting all of them to their lab to learn. As the first FRC team in Southeast Asia, they have also remotely helped teams in India and Vietnam. The mayor of Taipei recognized Raid Zero as a STEM role model. Their collaboration with the Central Taiwan Science Park led to the formation of a regional, which didn’t let COVID-19 stop it from happening safely.
4476, W.A.F.F.L.E.S.: 4476 has used lockdown as an opportunity to reach even more people than they did before. Through their W.A.F.F.L.E.S. 4 Wellness campaign, they have partnered with several healthcare nonprofits such as Stem Cells For Life. Their robots are named after people in need of stem cell transplants, raising awareness throughout FIRST. 4476 has also run a Hygiene Drive and is creating a Stress-Relief Bag for competition. The W.A.F.F.L.E.S. YouTube channel has accumulated over a million views through their tutorials. They have started and run 19 FIRST teams.
6024, R Factor: As the first FRC team in India, 6024 has opened doors for students all around their country. Being a team that accepts students from all around the country is a challenge, but they have dealt with it masterfully. They designed a cost-effective FTC Kit of Parts on their own, to circumvent the resource barriers that teams around them face. All FIRST programs in India have more than quadrupled due to their efforts in the past five years. During the strict lockdown in India, 6024 ran over 5,400 hours worth of workshops. All in all, R Factor just gives off good VIBES.
Finalists: 503, 2220, 4253
I’d love to see any predictions by other members of the community, and maybe I missed something, so please feel free to share yours below!