Founded in the 2005-2006 season, Team 1731 (a.k.a. Fresta Valley Robotics) is a 7th year veteran in FIRST. The team was founded in rural Fauquier County by Brent Leppke, who has been gracious enough to provide the team with his expertise and working space on his farm during the build season. Because of the location of the group and Fresta Valley Christian School, the group has been very tight-knit as they have essentially pioneered FIRST in their area. The team’s dedication and success has sparked an interest in robotics in the local community, particularly among other Fresta Valley students and homeschoolers. Over the years, the team has doubled in size and likely will continue to expand.
In the team’s rookie year, Fresta Valley Robotics went on to be the top seed in the VCU regional qualifying rounds. They were semi-finalists and award winners at the NASA VCU regional in 2007 and even went on to compete at the championship where they placed in their division. In the 2008 season they continued their upward swing, being finalists at both regionals that they attended. This year, they are hoping to achieve more than ever before.
Team 1731’s initial success caused the team to expand dramatically. Though over the years several students have graduated, many have volunteered as mentors. Several of these graduated students have pursued education in technological fields, such as computer science, civil engineering, and electrical engineering. In fact, over the years, more than 50 percent of our graduating seniors have returned as team mentors. The team also involves many of the younger siblings of team members with hopes of recruiting them as members in the future.
Understanding and supporting FIRST’s goal to reach out to the community and spark an interest in science and technology, the Fresta Valley Robotics team has worked hard to increase interest in the FIRST program both at Fresta Valley Christian School and the local homeschooled communities. During the off-season, the team demonstrates their robot at the school and even has a special yearly assembly dedicated to the team. They also attend a local talent show to showcase their robots to the community and have faithfully attended the Virginia State Fair for the annual Robot Rumble. Additionally, Team 1731 has invited other teams such as “Odyssey of the Minds” to their workshop and helped brainstorm different ideas with them.
As the team grows over the years, so does the team’s experience. Many of the students who were new to electronics, mechanics or programming only a year earlier are now able to teach what they’ve learned to the new rookies. The most valuable lesson, however, is the importance of teamwork. Because of the small size of the team, all the members have been involved in the different aspects of designing and building and have worked with all of their fellow team members on various projects. They have learned to compensate for each other’s differences of opinion and compromise. This lesson was learned well in the rookie season and has been passed down to the current team members.
The team currently works at Lileemzo Farm, where they build the robot in the corncrib and practice in the loft of the barn. On kick-off day, the team immediately begins brainstorming different strategies and projects. Afterwards, the team organizes into three distinct groups. First is the “Special Ops” team, charged with building the physical components of the robot to complete the desired goal. This can range from a launching mechanism to a mechanical arm and more. The second group known as “Drive Train” is in charge of constructing the base of the robot and the driving system. The third and last group, the “Controls” team, runs the electronics and programs the robot, carefully ensuring that every aspect works as it should. With all three groups working simultaneously and cooperatively, the robot is built quickly and efficiently.
After a successful 2007 season, our robot’s unique arm and associated control system were showcased in an illustrated hard cover Robotics Design book, once again helping to spread the word about FIRST.
The team received the Judges Award in 2008 and the Xerox Creativity Award in both 2009 and 2010. The 2011 season went very well with the team finishing as semi-finalists. The 2012 season is well under way and looks very promising.
The Fresta Valley Robotics Team thanks you for your time and is eager to do their best to glorify God, to have an enjoyable learning experience, and to have many more successful seasons to come.