We pride ourselves in being more than a robotics team

01

about us.

Our team was built with the aid of our teachers in the fall of 2016, bringing together a few high school students with similar passions, big dreams and unstoppable ambition. Our very first participation in FIRST Tech Challenge Romania came as a surprise to us all, since we managed to obtain an invitation to the FIRST Dutch Open. Admittedly, we were rookies, so we encountered a lot of problems to which we could not figure out viable solutions – one of which being obtaining sponsorships. Due to our financial issues, we lacked the resources needed to perform in the Netherlands, but far from knocking us down, this experience only fanned our spark into a flame.

Since the summer of 2017, we were taken under the wing of the IRIS Robotics Association, a start-up specializing in artificial intelligence technologies. Alongside the students who became our mentors, we launched weekly robotics courses for children of ages 6-16, in order to pass on both our knowledge and our passion for the STEM fields. It was a tedious trial-and-error process, but after months of working with our little mentees, we are proud to call ourselves the coaches of the future generation of FIRST participants.

02

Short History

Our team was built with the aid of our teachers in the fall of 2016, bringing together a few high school students with similar passions, big dreams and unstoppable ambition. Our very first participation in FIRST Tech Challenge Romania came as a surprise to us all, since we managed to obtain an invitation to the FIRST Dutch Open. Admittedly, we were rookies, so we encountered a lot of problems to which we could not figure out viable solutions – one of which being obtaining sponsorships. Due to our financial issues, we lacked the resources needed to perform in the Netherlands, but far from knocking us down, this experience only fanned our spark into a flame.

 

Since the summer of 2017, we were taken under the wing of the IRIS Robotics Association, a start-up specializing in artificial intelligence technologies. Alongside the students who became our mentors, we launched weekly robotics courses for children of ages 6-16, in order to pass on both our knowledge and our passion for the STEM fields. It was a tedious trial-and-error process, but after months of working with our little mentees, we are proud to call ourselves the coaches of the future generation of FIRST participants.

 

Apart from our interest in the growth of the local FIRST community and the sharing of its principles, we also focused on competing in multiple contests that year, starting with the FIRST Russia Open in February, where we got to know teams from all over the globe and exchanged ideas on how to better build our robot. Next up were the official FTC regional matches organized in Iasi, at Fab Lab, the co-working space which also serves as our HQ. There, we gained a lot of insight regarding the actual organization of such a competition and what really goes on “behind the scenes”. Some of the volunteers who enrolled for that event then became members of our team, thus further cementing the FIRST values FUSE. 

 

Some other projects that we take a lot of pride in are teaching robotics courses for children and the First Steps in Science program. They gave us the opportunity to understand better how to make ourselves known in our community and helped us give others the courage to persuade their passion in robotics.

 

With a new team structure, we participated in the second edition of FIRST Tech Challenge and made it into the semifinals. This was a clear improvement for us, which meant that with more hard work, ambition and experience, we could continue to better our results over the years. When the 2018-2019 season started, we had already made serious plans and joined forces with three students from another high-school in our city. The increased diversity meant a greater perspective and more varied insight into what we could change in our strategy. Thus, we became more focused on the marketing and branding aspect of the team, all the while maintaining a high standard regarding our robot. Now, we are prepared to compete in the third national edition and get involved in the FIRST community.

03
1

Strengths

Our team benefits from diversity regarding the age of our members. Some have extensive experience and have accumulated wisdom regarding FTC competitions, which they can pass on to new, younger members ( 38% juniors, 62% seniors)
So far, we have participated in a total of 3 FTC-type competitions, ranging from regional to international. We have used each experience as a learning opportunity.
This year, we had the great chance of enlarging our network of partners. First of all, we currently have two mentors: Although we changed our prime mentor (our Mathematics teacher) we were able to find a suitable replacement: our Physics teacher. Our second mentor is the founder of the IRIS Robotics Association. Their respective knowledge complements each other and brings a clear advantage to the general activity of our team. Secondly, we are now deeply rooted in the STEM community of our city, since we share our HQ with many other companies and individuals working in similar fields. Through them (and with a lot of networking), we have made a name for ourselves in Iasi. Last but not least, we have the support of many volunteers, most of them being classmates eager to get involved in our work. They help by teaching the robotics courses when we are away for competitions and also offer us ideas about how to best build our robot.
From children still attending kindergarten to owners of important IT firms, we are proud to say our outreach is incredibly diverse.

2

Weaknesses

As always, money is still a problem for our team. Despite the monthly cash flow courtesy of the robotics courses, our sources of income are unstable and we risk “financial collapse”, so to speak. That is why we require strict budgets and a careful analysis of both our needs and purchases, so as not to overspend, while also making the most out of what we have.
All the members of FUSE are students at top local high schools, so naturally our teachers’ expectations of us are high. Our busy schedules, extracurricular activities and general school stress are obstacles that keep us from using our time to the benefit of the team.

3

Opportunities

We pride ourselves in being more than a robotics team – through our many side projects, we have evolved into a real community of people with common interests and goals. Among them, what offered us the greatest opportunity (for the development of the team and of ourselves) was participating to workshops and demonstrations in our city, since we wished to spread the word about our amazing team.
Our participation in multiple contests represents the opportunity to meet new teams, exchange ideas and gather insight.
Since there is also another team in Iasi, we are able to train together locally, because sometimes it’s not enough to drive our robot around an empty arena.

4

Threats

The biggest problem we had to face as a team was when we had to say goodbye to our most experienced members, precisely the founders of IRIS CNR, which is now Fuse, as they had to leave for university. Being able to find replacements for them was not difficult, since there are a lot of people interested in robotics in our city. However, since a lot of them had to start from scratch, the whole process of constructing the robot took more effort than we had previously anticipated.