Robotics…. What comes to mind? 25562873050_8388d27343_k

Science nerds? Engineering geniuses? Programming geeks?

 FIRST Robotics Team 3556: GET SMART is all of these and so much more. In a mere six weeks, we plan, design, build, program, test, and perfect a robot that must be able to successfully compete in FIRST’s Orlando regional competition.


Robot: Gong Zhu

Gracious Proffesionalism Award at Orlando Regional
Judges Award at Tempest ‘N Tampa

January 2011 marked the beginning of an informal robotics team, a jumbled mesh of about ten physics students who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. From there, everything exploded into chaos. Six weeks of sleepless nights, fundraising, panic, and growing coffee addictions made up our very first build season. Lacking the vital important resources and technology that other teams took for granted, we struggled to overcome the difficulties we faced. Our efforts were met with much skepticism from rural Lake City. They had never before heard of FIRST or even entertained the idea of a robotics team. We worked ten times harder to not only succeed building the robot, but to prove ourselves to the community. Our unyielding determination and drive proved worthy when we returned home proudly carrying the Gracious Professionalism award and presented with the opportunity to compete in Tempest in Tampa as a rookie team.


Robot: Maxwell
Finalist Award at Orlando Regional
Engineering Technology classes started at Columbia High

When our second season rolled around, we were more prepared. ReboundRumble needed to be successful, not just for Team 3556, as a whole, but for each and every team member also.  Notepads in hand, we absorbed everything we could at Kickoff. Robot ideas were shot out as soon as our excited bottoms hit the bus seats headed home and by the middle of week one, we had our chassis assembled and were rearing to drive it. Our design was a well thought-out one. When March approached this time, we were ready. Our confidence shown through as we walked into competition and the crowd soon saw why. Maxwell, our robot, could score in the top goal and balance on the Coopertition bridge. Not only that, but Maxwell had also mastered the autonomous period, something that was not expected out of a 2nd year team. Our success stood out among others and we were chosen by Team 180 (SPAM) to be their alliance, making it to the Finals. At the end of the weekend we had a second place title in our hands; losing only to our mentor team, Team 86. Success.


Robot: Agent 99
First time alliance captain
Built Magnum PSI

By our 3rd year as a FRC Team, it’s obvious we have come a long way. Team 3556 now had more veterans and mentors as well as naive newbies, all working together toward a common goal: make it to Nationals. The two hour bus ride to Orlando for Kickoff that year was a mass of excited buzz. Clumped together at cafeteria tables we anxiously awaited to see Dean Kamen’s face appear on the screen to reveal the game that would be the center our lives around for the next six weeks. The scribble of pen against notepad was heard and a variety of design ideas were proposed. Last year we competed vigorously at the quarterfinals with passion and returned home with much praise for our design and effort.


P1020100Robot: CHIEF
Media and Tech Award Finalist
Started two FLL Teams
1st Annual Cornmaze at Columbia High

As our 4th year rolled around, Team 3556 was proud to say that we were on our way to becoming a fully functioning experienced team. Our small Lake City was becoming more educated in the purpose of FIRST and we were gaining the support of the community. That year we hosted our very own Kickoff and design session, with plans being quickly and efficiently drafted. Our team had great ambitions to reach with our robot, and within 6 weeks, Team 3556 managed to create the best robot since our rookie year.  At the Orlando Regional, we were excitedly seeded in the top 8, becoming alliance captains with Team 3502 OctoPiRates and Team 1421 CHAOS as our allies.

After our season was over we were excited to spread FIRST in more ways. This was accomplished with the formation of two FLL teams in our county, the Get Smarties and the Eagle Bots. We spent countless hours training these junior agents, getting them ready for their rookie season.

Prior to our 5th year starting, tragedy struck our team with news that one of our founding members being injured. Agent Hayley Lewis suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) after an ATV accident and was life-flighted to Shands in Gainesville. Our team was showered with support from the FIRST community in this time, and Frank even made a post about her on his blog.


Started 11 new FLL Teams
FIrst time attending two regionals

Our 5th year started with half of our agents retiring from the team. We knew this was going to be a huge year for rebuilding. By the time that build season came around we were ready to take on the new game: Recycle Rush. Equipped with a brand new CNC router we built a competition ready robot dubbed CLASSIFIED (Creating Large Automated Systems Spreading Innovative Features in Engineering and Design). CLASSIFIED was such a hit in Florida we decided to take him on a mission in Houston and for the first time GET SMART attended two regionals, placing in semi-finals in both events.

Once we returned to Lake City we continued our initiative to spread FIRST starting with an FLL bootcamp. Afterwards, Potash Corp (one of our major sponsors) gave us a $25,000 grant and we recieved a matching grant from the Columbia County School system to create a new FLL team at every elementary and middle school in our county.
201625743488202_158340257f_oRobot: Lord Maximus
Woodie Flowers Award
Finalist Award
Gracious Professionalism Award
Year 6 of GET SMART spurred the creation of Lord Maximus, who stormed the castle in the game FIRST Stronghold.  Maximus took part in 2 missions, the Orlando Regional, and the South Florida Regional.  We also had a group of 10 agents and two mentors visit Nationals to take part in the workshops and conferences available.

Current Season

The agents are currently preparing to take flight in FIRST Steamworks.




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