All members in our club start off with LEGO when they first enter. The simplicity and ease of learning LEGO helps to drill fundamental robotics concepts, which would serve as a stepping stone for our members to move towards more complex robotic systems like VEX.
We participate in 2 LEGO competitions, the National Robotics Competition (NRC) and the FIRST LEGO League (FLL).
National Robotics Competition
Our club participates in the annual National Robotics Competition (NRC, or formerly known as NJRC a few years back), which serves as the national qualifiers to select teams to represent Singapore at the World Robot Olympiad (WRO). Our club typically participates in the Regular category in both Junior (HS students) and Senior (JC students) age groups.
The Regular Category is a challenge based competition. Students must design, construct and program their robots to solve specific challenges on a field in 120 seconds. Points are scored for completed tasks.
The first edition of WRO was launched here in Singapore way back in 2004 and for as long as we can remember, our club has been sending teams to NRC in an attempt to qualify for WRO every year. However, 2011 and 2016 were the only years where we earned the opportunity to represent Singapore in WRO, which was held in UAE and India respectively. 2017 marked the first time that JC members sent teams to participate in NRC in the senior category.
We have consistently received satisfactory results in NRC throughout the years. Despite branching out more into other non-LEGO competitions, our teams are still doing fairly well, with more than half the teams making it into the finals (top 10/20 finish) in 2019. Nonetheless, we are optimistic that we can reach greater heights in NRC, with the ultimate goal being winning the overall championship award.
FIRST LEGO League
Much like WRO, FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is a mission-based competition that changes yearly, but on a more mechanically complex scale.
FLL presents multiple missions for robots to tackle, often involving interactive field elements. Successful completion of a specific mission awards points. However, teams are allowed to change robot attachments in the starting base an unlimited number of times throughout the 150 second run time, which incorporates the need to strategise which mission to prioritise in order to score the maximum number of points within the time limit.
Teams will also have to conduct presentations that demonstrate the FLL core values such as research and community outreach etc., which will be counted towards the final overall rankings.
We have been participating in FLL since its launch here in Singapore as well. Similar to NRC, we have been performing relatively well and bagged many awards throughout the years, but would lose out to traditional powerhouses and fall just short of winning overall champions.
Our participation gradually became irregular due to the huge amounts of LEGO parts that had to be diverted away for NRC preparation. Members were also generally more interested in VEX or RoboCup and thus, we took a hiatus from 2017 onwards.
In 2019, we took a gamble and decided to send a team in order to train some junior members in LEGO fundamentals and allow them to gain more competition experience.
The team worked tirelessly and, against all odds, won Overall Champions at FLL Singapore.
Despite the fact that most members were also involved in other competitions such as RoboCup and VEX at the same time, the team decided to push on and represent Singapore at the First LEGO League Festival held in Detroit, the United States, barely a month later with completely redesigned robot attachments.
While there are no immediate plans to participate in FLL again in 2021, we hope that our 2019 run can inspire future batches to try their hand at something new and perhaps ‘revive’ our participation in FLL some day.