In 2018, we completely reinvented our brand. This allowed us to create a new team image that reflected our culture and emphasized our mission, which is “to create a safe, welcoming, and spirited environment for youth in our community to develop their interests in engineering and leadership.”
Rebranding to the Boba Bots, changing our team leadership structure, and developing a new curriculum were just some of the innovations that allowed us to promote sustainability. These changes led to a massive growth in community interest and member count. In 2018, the team attended four competitions and had attracted 78 registered members. In 2019, we had a registered membership of 80 students, 86% of which were active members - the team’s highest member retention rate in recorded history. We had also started to branch out through outreach events, going from 1 event in 2018 to 5 in 2019 and 15 in 2020.
On April 15th, 2019, the Boba Bots embarked on a five day trip to the FIRST World Championships in Houston, Texas. The event was a culmination of the team’s hard work for the past several months, and brought together hundreds of teams from around the world to compete for the world championship title. The Boba Bots performed at our best, facing fierce competition and ultimately ranking thirty-first place out of our division. This was the team’s first time attending a championship event since 1999, back when championships were still held at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Not only did the Boba Bots perform well at competition, but many members spent time at the Innovation Faire, an event within the championships, and gained great knowledge from the numerous companies that had set up booths about their product or technological developments. On top of educational opportunities, Students spent hours playing games with each other after each day of competition. The team also attended “RoboProm”, a substitute to regular prom as championships took place at the same time. Throughout the event, members formed deep bonds and learned to collaborate more closely. Altogether, the 2019 World Champions was a perfect closeout to a landmark season that signified a major shift for the Boba Bots.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-21 season was a unique challenge for the team. Meetings were held on Zoom, and leads had to teach their usual “hands-on” curriculum in an online format so technical knowledge could be passed to new members. Due to the unique season format, that year’s challenges strayed away from the typical games that we were used to. Instead, teams were challenged to create an FRC game and exercise product, both things our team was unfamiliar with. With the help of some professionals in game design and product management that our mentors knew, our team created Ocean Commotion and the T. E. A. Band and App to round off the 2020-21 season.
The following season, we finally returned to in person meetings! However, the majority of the team hadn’t experienced a full competition season due to the lockdown, leaving us unprepared for the upcoming build season. As such, our technical mentors got involved in the brainstorming and designing of our robot for Rapid React. Despite not performing particularly well at competitions, we were presented with the Entrepreneurship Award at the San Francisco Regional and even made it to quarterfinals at the Central Valley Regional!
Now the team is stronger than ever, adopting the current motto “Build Robots, Build People, Build CommuniTEA”! We restarted our Taylor Robotics program from 2005, which now has 80 students signed up! This anniversary marks an important milestone for the Boba Bots as they embark on another competition season this year, and celebrates the rich history of a team with many more years to come.