The Bellarmine robotics team—100+ members strong—is recognized as one of the top teams in the world. Competing through the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program, our team, The Cheesy Poofs, competes in FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) and FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge).
Our robotics lab is housed on-campus. It includes state-of-the-art machining equipment and advanced design software which allows students to design and build competitive robots, as well as a 50 foot FRC field to test them in a mini-competition environment.
Previous robotics and/or programming experience is not required to join the Cheesy Poofs. However, due to its highly competitive nature and the time commitment involved, students must submit an application if they'd like to participate, with team members being selected based upon their passion and dedication. Mentors, moderators, and team members are available to help new members learn the tasks that are of interest to them, whether that means being machine-trained on the lathe or drill press, mastering CAD, or Java, or undertaking project management.
In addition to technical skill sets such as designing, building, and animation, the team relies upon members for the completion of tasks on the business side of the house, such as team leadership, marketing, writing, and photography, which they utilize in their team newsletters and website.
More important than any competitive success or awards, our robotics students grow academically, intellectually, and socially. They gain a better understanding, a greater respect, and a more profound appreciation of the benefits of a good education, as well as a heightened responsibility for helping other teams. The team devotes itself to outreach in the community and at competitions, teaching the general public about robotics, and sharing their skills with other teams.
Our FRC students, competing as Team 254, along with knowledgeable mentors, work at our robotics lab to design, build and field a competitive robot which performs a specific game task that changes every year. The co-curricular competition season begins in January with the announcement of the yearly game challenge and continues through the second semester. Students will work throughout the year to hone their robotics skills including electronics, machining, construction, and programming.
The Cheesy Poofs host an off-season FIRST Robotics Competition event in September. Chezy Champs is held on campus, with the Cheesy Poofs hosting ~40 teams to battle it out and take home the title "Best of the West."
In 2023, the Cheesy Poofs started competing in FTC, a mid-level robotics competition which offers the traditional challenge of a FIRST robotics competition but with smaller scale robots and team sizes of up to 15 students. We currently have 5 competitive FTC teams: Team 23222, Team 23223, Team 23224, Team 23229 and Team 23230. Although these robots are smaller in size, students work follow the same design, manufacturing and programming processes as our FRC team. Similarly, each FTC team includes non-technical aspects such documentation, grant writing, outreach and graphic design.
The Cheesy Poofs host a regular season FTC qualifying tournament on campus in the fall, offering advancement to the Northern California FTC championship for winning teams.