Robotics after High School

I’m a Graduated Senior of the “Lost Year” of 2020 (tbh though the shelter in place has provided unique opportunities to grow that would have not been available in the first place)"

Likely going to Texas A&M for engineering

What are robotics competitions for university students?

Or should I become Michael Reeves?

(I am making a minecraft bot swarm handler that will be able to seek and destroy players efficiently. Also going to have synchronized bot dancing.
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I’m not sure if there’s anything at the university level quite like FRC (I’m only a junior in HS right now so I may not be the best source), but you can always volunteer at a local FRC event or even mentor a local team near your university. So while you might not be a student competing, you can definitely help them compete in many ways.

VEXU is a good one https://www.roboticseducation.org/vex-u/. And possibly VEX AI depending on how it goes https://www.vex.com/vex-ai.

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Not sure what A&M offers specifically, but there are many engineering competitions out there for college students.

Two pieces of advice from someone who messed up not following them?

  • Get to campus and get settled first, then explore. Things will obviously be in flux, but you don’t want to get overhyped from a website on a group that’s not in sync with your expectations and availability.
  • Limit your FIRST itch-scratching to event volunteering for at least year one. Many recommend all of college. Plus, it generally comes with food and a T-shirt–college students learn the value of both quickly.
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I’m not one to value T-shirt that much. Bothers of gainz and probably fellow fillipinos will understand.

I will definitely take the advice tho :slight_smile:

We have a minimum and mandatory 2 year wait period between graduating and returning as a mentor.
We’ve seen too many recent graduates trying to continue/relive their glory years.

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You might find that you don’t have so much free time in college, the work load is quite a bit higher than high school. Keep this in mind, when looking for extracurricular things to do. Concentrate on school work…

But also look for interesting things to do. Remember that FIRST uses robotics as a “hook” to get kids interested in STEM. There are plenty of other things out there to explore.

I love how someone who posted asking about non-FIRST collegiate robotics opportunities… is getting the same tired thread about not doing FIRST in college.

From what I’ve seen, the closest thing to “FRC for college students” is the NASA Robotic Mining Competition (RMC), not sure if TAMU has a team though. There are a number of other competitions in similar realms as well.

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Interesting. Is rule this common? Do you also apply it to mentors coming from other teams?

Being hosted at a university we have some awesome college mentors both from our own team and from others (Swartdogs and Citrus Circuits come right to mind) including frosh.

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It looks like TAMU has a lot of options for things for their engineering students to get involved in:

https://engineering.tamu.edu/student-life/student-orgs.html

And you can also seek out paid work with local companies or on-campus jobs with professors or research labs to help start your career. Some of those opportunities are pretty awesome and many times students are in demand for them. Just be sure you can balance keeping good grades with whatever you choose to do, of course.

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We’ve never had a recent graduate from another team want to be a mentor on our team.
Since we are a HS based team, we very seldom have college students volunteer. Those that do usually can’t commit to more than once a month. Unfortunately, only being present once a month makes them ineffective mentors (building relationships, trust, etc… truly mentoring members).

Depends on your intended major – If you’re more mechanically inclined, I’d recommend an SAE team (Baja, Foumula SAE, etc) They aren’t robots but they’re really interesting mechanical design opportunities.

If you’re electrical, there are some cool things happening with some IEEE groups.

Go to the Student Organization Festival and see what groups inspire you! Especially at a giant school like A&M there is bound ot be a group that fits your interests.

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Not always true. Anti-true for me. Don’t be discouraged. There are many, many, many more important things than a GPA (as long as you’re getting the things that GPA is supposed to be reflective of).

But yes, engineering isn’t just robotics. A&M in particular has a pretty interesting setup for their formula team. I don’t remember the details but I believe it’s a seniors-only schtick.

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WildStang wants to encourage that all former students spend some time on additional studies. To that end, graduates who want to mentor have to be enrolled in a school of higher learning. We also monitor to insure that school is a higher priority than the team. Over the 25 years we have been together, multiple mentors have come from former students and other team’s graduates.
I can see the sense in having a waiting period. Education is a very high priority as it was for Woodie Flowers.

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The SAE teams are awesome. I think TAMU might also have solar car. Does TAMU have “space mining”? That’s very FRC-like so attracts a lot of those kids here (Iowa State).
ISU Club Website

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Also, if you have FRC kids looking at college, we’d love to have them at ISU!
In fact we’re just opening an awesome huge new maker space for students (classes, clubs, and personal projects).
ISU Student Innovation Center

I’m part of the leadership team for UMN Robotics (https://studentrobotics.umn.edu). Our teams include 'Snow Problem Ri3D, Vex U, NASA Robotic Mining Competition, ION Autonomous Snowplow (which might be a bit trickier in Texas,) and an Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition team, along with any number of smaller projects throughout the year. A lot of our members volunteer at local FIRST events and a handful mentor teams.

Most of our team members are FIRST alumni, but you can also find alumni at UMN doing things like Solar Car, FSAE and Rocket Team. Personal projects are a great idea as well, we even have a student group dedicated to support & funding for any project.

In my experience, there’s nothing quite like FIRST in the competition sense (Vex U is probably the closest), but there’s still a lot you can do to develop your engineering skills while maintaining some level of competition.

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For better or worse there is really no FRC equivalent in the collegiate space. One definate problem I see is university students (that are FRC alum) refusing to get outside of the FRC headspace when designing for some of these challenges and just sticking to what they know (i.e. motor selection, gearboxes). I have to admit I was one of them, but being a broke college student does wonders for “breaking out” of the FRC rulebook when there is no need to design within its bounds.

There are a lot of programs, as others have mentioned:

Some of the NASA ones:

Most “FRC” like

Others:

Not strictly robotics, but definitely interesting/ fun challenges:

Also check with your department(s) there may be research into some area that you are interested that involves robotics, but isn’t strictly a competition/ design challenge. Often these opportunities can be loads of fun because they are novel. Also a chance to get published should you go deep enough down the rabbit hole (and not have the unfortunate luck of overpowering faculty, this can sometimes be a big problem).

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I agree with a lot of the posts on here. Looking at the link Travis provided earlier, there are many opportunities at A&M. University is full of engineering project teams, many of which similar to robotics and mechatronics. Post above mine gives a good list.

I’d like to add that you’d be surprised where your interests lie. You may think going in you want to participate in an organization that is robotics and mechatronics heavy, but I encourage you to think about what you enjoyed most about FIRST. Was it CAD? Was it getting into the shop? Was it the programming aspect? Thinking about that may lead you to an organization that you didn’t expect you’d enjoy until you get into it.

In short, look around at the options. You might click with a team that’s similar in material to FIRST. Or, you might find something like rocketry to be more up your alley, and you get to apply your favorite thing from FIRST to this new opportunity.

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As another graduating senior, I’ll share my two cents, which are pretty similar to others in this thread.

The only really close collegiate competition to FRC is VexU. There are ones that are pretty easy to join, and require generally a similar knowledge base to FRC, which is NASA Robotics Mining and combat robotics(battlebots). Then, you have the engineering project teams that do a lot more complex work, such as the SAE teams (formula, baja, etc.)

Personally, I think its really important to challenge yourself and move out of your comfort zone, both for personal reasons and resume things (iirc something like formula SAE will generally look better than VexU on a resume). There is a lot more to engineering than the FRC ecosystem, and personally I just think its important to branch out.