The Steel Talons kick off their 2022 season

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Ryleigh Jenkins

Steel Talon members focus as they work to build the drive base of their robot.

The Steel Talons kicked off their 2021-2022 season earlier this month, ready to tackle the competition course. Each year FIRST FORWARD, a global robotics community, presents a theme that teams must follow in competition. According to FIRST the theme this year is Rapid React, challenging students to “reimagine the future of safe, high-speed travel… in this world and beyond.”

This year’s theme has added many unprecedented components to the competition course; including an added level of human involvement and a hanging mechanism comparable to uneven bars in gymnastics. This new set of challenges has excited team members and played an integral role in the team’s initial planning and brainstorming phase. “It’s going to be fun to see how people find solutions to such interesting problems,” Evan Hutchinson, 12, said.

Preparation for each competition is intense, with weekly meetings on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. For efficiency, the team is split into five different teams: scouting, mechanical, electrical, programming, and marketing. Teams hit the ground running, for example the scouting team “have started to create an app to scout other teams, and applied for grants to get money,” Ryleigh Jenkins, 11, said.

Over the course of four months, team members grow close and form bonds by problem-solving, traveling, and participating in team bonding events. Thus, team members like Hutchinson, 12, and Jenkins, 11, are most excited this season to travel and reconnect with old friends; along with stepping into leadership positions, as upperclassmen. “I am looking forward to working as a leader of the mechanical team to assemble this years’ competition robot. This is my first chance to lead a team on such a critical task, so it is both scary and exciting,” Hutchinson, 12, said.