2017 marks the second half of my sophomore year in high school. In the fall and winter of my freshman and sophomore years I participated on the 1024 VEX team. Freshman year my team finished third in the finals of every competition we were at, while this year my team didn’t even qualify for the finals at the only competition we’ve been to. 2017 also marks my first year on the 1024 FRC team. Although I don’t know much of the programming language, I joined the programming team to hopefully learn more. Some major differences between VEX and FRC are obviously the programming language, size of the robots, the overall technical aspects of the games, etc. But more specifically I’d like to talk about how the team is structured. In VEX we split into 5-6 teams, each one building and working on their own robot. The team is still unified as one, but if pitted against each other at competitions we showed no mercy to one another. Meanwhile, here at FRC, we still split into different teams, but here it’s divided into building, programming, and design teams, all working together to make one robot.
Overall I feel like FRC is a much more difficult challenge than VEX, in terms of both game complexity and robot design. In VEX, you use a select set of metal parts that you can bend and alter at your leisure, although you have to go off of what you start with and some pieces aren’t as customizable as others. Meanwhile in FRC you can more freely design and use your own parts, rather than have to use a specific set of parts. I also feel like there’s a closer bond between FRC teammates than there is between VEX teammates, what with the team dinners on Monday and Wednesday, and all teams needing to work together and communicate to accomplish one common goal. Also having a distinct time crunch with the build season lasting only a small handful of weeks gives us more of a drive to get things done as opposed to being unproductive for several meetings at a time. Overall I feel like the experience in FRC is more productive than VEX, as in VEX we only met two nights a week for two hours each, as opposed to four nights a week for three hours each. To anyone considering joining FRC in the future, I suggest you join your school’s VEX or VEX IQ team first, as they are both perfect entries into competitive robotics.