Who are the RoboHawks?
¨The RoboHawks¨, FIRST® Team 346, is a robotics team located at Lloyd C. Bird High School in Chesterfield Virginia. FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by inventor and engineer Dean Kamen in 1989 to encourage students to explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Not long after and built on the same principles in the year 2000 the RoboHawks were born.
As our team number implies, Team 346 was one of the first FRC teams to organize. At the time of inception, Team 346 was affiliated with the Chesterfield County Technical Center and the result of a passionate lobbying effort by one the Technical Center teachers, Ms. Sandy Meyers. It was Ms. Meyers’s efforts that resulted in the organization of Team 346, which although housed at the Technical Center, was open to any high school student in Chesterfield County Public Schools. In 2003, as other high schools in the county began to develop their own FRC teams, Team 346 moved next door to Lloyd C Bird High School and with this move, the “Robohawks” were born.
Integral to the success of Team 346 is the support received from Lloyd C. Bird High School and the specialty center housed within Lloyd C. Bird, the Governor’s Academy for Engineering Studies. The Governor’s Academy of Engineering is a Chesterfield County Public School specialty center that is specifically focused on educating high school students with an interest in the engineering field. The Academy provides a variety of opportunities to gain knowledge and experience in the classroom as well as via labs and extracurricular activities. The former includes opportunities for advanced classes in math and science, while the latter includes the Robotics Club, FRC Team 346. The Academy’s goal is to provide students with an opportunity to learn and have an understanding of various fields of engineering. The program follows an intense academic curriculum that is focused on teaching students about science, technology, engineering, and math centering on labs and field studies. Integral to the program are opportunities for students to develop integrated computer skills, practical reasoning through design projects, and a number of advanced credit classes and engineering electives including aerospace, bio-medical, manufacturing, and architectural engineering. Since its inception at Lloyd C Bird, three faculty members have coordinated the Robohawks: Ms. Beth Teigen (2003-2006); Dr. Nancy Hoover (2006-2012); and Mr. Steven Wagner (2012-Present). Alongside these faculty coordinators has been a team of adult mentors. Today’s team is supported by over 35 adult mentors, some of whom are Robohawk alumni, and one of who, Mr. Chuck Grieninger, has been with Team 346 since its inception at the Technical Center. These mentors provide guidance in all aspects of the Team’s functioning. Student membership since 2006 had been fairly consistent, standing at approximately 40 active student members each year until 2011-2012 academic year. In 2012, the team has seen an increase of its student members, and team membership now stands above 50 active student members. Between 2006 and 2011 the team focused on enhancing its technical sophistication. This included the addition of a computer numerical control (CNC) machine, computer assisted design (CAD) capabilities, along with the implementation of Robohawk University. RoboU includes mandatory training for all team members in safety, mechanical and electrical components, robot design, and competition strategies. Advanced training in CAD, CNC, 3D Printing, and other topics is also periodically offered. Team member knowledge and skills are also enhanced via participation in special projects. The team’s success in competitions has been almost as long as its history. In 2004, Team 346 was a finalist in the VCU Virginia Regional competition. In 2009, Team 346 went undefeated, won the Regional Championship, and took home the General Motors Industrial Design Award. At the VCU Regional competition in 2014, Team 346 The team strives for continued recognition in these technical areas, with the 2014-2015 competition, the team has also set its sights on growth and recognition in the area of business and marketing development.