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tribotec_ca88
10-12-2004, 02:28 PM
I was just wondering if other FIRST teams, due to the large number of students interested, had to be selective about their team members. What are your methods and how is your selection process?? Our school (rookie year 2004) last year, for example, had hundreds of students wanting to participate. Here's how they chose our current team members:
- assembly held for 300+ students, that sent in their....
- curriculum vitae, narrowing it down to....
- 60 students, whose skills were observed during a formal group dynamic, and finally...
- 26 students were selected.

This year's selection process has changed...in september we had to fill out some form/survey. Tomorrow about 100 students will take a written test...and who knows where it goes from there.

I was simply interested in knowing how other teams recruit members, what it takes to join the team, and what mentors look for in students when it comes to having to select...

RoboMom
10-12-2004, 02:45 PM
WOW! This is wonderful and difficult all at the same time. It was a topic for a NEMO discussion and we'll try to get some responses your way.

Bcahn836
10-12-2004, 03:31 PM
1. Fill out interest survey
2. Show commitment to the team

Our team is having each new member and veteran fill out an application form, asking different things about their interest in the team.
we are holding research and development courses to train and newbies and keep interest for our veterans and mentors for the next month or so. Sometime in November we will make cuts, and keep only the ones who have put in the time and have the interest.
We had about 45 or so new people show up to our intro meeting and about 12 more who couldn't make it to that meeting (something going on at the high school for freshmen). Any way in November we plan to keep only about 30 students unless we see commitment the team then we can keep more.

The Cyborg
10-12-2004, 05:41 PM
Our team first gives a small packet to students who want to participate. The packet includes information, an application for the team, and three teacher recommendation forms. Students are also prompted to write a small essay on why they want to join the team.

The students who have completed their applications then goes through an interview process, where they go one on one with all of the mentors and engineers volunteering on the team. Students are evaluated by GPA, work ethic, devotion, and knowledge of one of three fields: Communication, science, or math.

Chosen students are then announced throughout the school, and are required to attend a mandatory orientation.

A long process, but its worth it. Plus not a lot of people sign up for the team in our school, mostly because the school revolves around athletics, and not academics.

-Cyborg

Denman
10-13-2004, 07:21 AM
wow... you have that many people apply?!

we basically accept anyone who wants to join, and then only let them fly over to you lot if they have done enough work / shown commitment...

we actually run ours as an "enrichment" slot in the school timetable, which means that people can do it in place of something else (like some sort of sport, societies etc...) , as they have to do one enrichment mandatory for the first year, whilst second years have the slot free anyway so they can come. This actually helps greatly as it means that we are advertised in the school prospectus and in the choices form ... however it does mean we lose a couple of people who are doing other things like "duke of edinbourough " award ....

Greg Needel
10-13-2004, 07:52 AM
i don;t personally like the idea of turning away students who want to be involved. i honestly think that most teams get weeded out naturally as the season progresses, ie.. people get involved with other stuff and stop showing up. you can also keep a log of when people work to determine who travels. i also think that if you have hundreds of applicants that maybe you school should start 2 teams, with that much interest the school board and local area should be fine with major support, remember FIRST is for everyone not just the 30 that are most qualified at the beginning of the season. This is true because FIRST is about expanding your horizons and learning, i would hate to think that the next dean Kamen is at your high school and he/she would never realize their potential because someone decided that they wern't the "FIRST material"


just my .02

tribotec_ca88
10-13-2004, 08:18 PM
i don;t personally like the idea of turning away students who want to be involved. i honestly think that most teams get weeded out naturally as the season progresses, ie.. people get involved with other stuff and stop showing up. you can also keep a log of when people work to determine who travels. i also think that if you have hundreds of applicants that maybe you school should start 2 teams, with that much interest the school board and local area should be fine with major support, remember FIRST is for everyone not just the 30 that are most qualified at the beginning of the season. This is true because FIRST is about expanding your horizons and learning, i would hate to think that the next dean Kamen is at your high school and he/she would never realize their potential because someone decided that they wern't the "FIRST material" just my .02
I totally agree. But at our school it's just no use. We don't have organized sports teams/squads like most schools do so our FIRST team does receive a lot of attention, which is why we have hundreds of applicants. But's there's no way to handle a 100-person team. It really is unfair turning down people that are interested, but as we have no funds to start 2 or more teams at our school, we have no other option. However, we have a robotics study group and at the end of the year we're having a local robotics competition...which is great because it does allow students to get involved, although it's not directly related to FRC. Unfortunately, selecting the actual FIRST team depends on an elimination process...:(

Greg Needel
10-13-2004, 08:31 PM
have you ever made a rule like no freshmen? i know teams that do this and you would think that would help cut down the amount. i think that if cuts do have to be made they need to be made on other requirements then prior knowlage of robotics

pakrat
10-13-2004, 08:52 PM
I'm surprised that you guys can get so many team members. We try as hard as we can to keep the few that we have! HE have about 10, maybe 15 members, and we would never say no to anyone that would want to help out.

But if we had 100+ applicants, things could get dicy, it would be very difficult to do much with a team that large smoothly.

Bcahn836
10-13-2004, 09:05 PM
We have close to 60 show up there are about 5-10 who treat being on the team as one big social event and don't do any work, those are the ones we try to eliminate. I mean yes it is a social friendly enviroment but if they are wasting time talking that has nothing to do with the team then they are not needed. It is not right to waste the time of other students that want to learn, the teachers who put in the extra time to help us out and the mentors coming from work not getting paid but are there just about every night to help us out.

If someone wants to be on the team they have to prove that they are commited to the team and just won't lose interest in a week or two, or only show up for trips to events.

Greg Needel
10-14-2004, 01:17 AM
We have close to 60 show up there are about 5-10 who treat being on the team as one big social event and don't do any work, those are the ones we try to eliminate. I mean yes it is a social friendly enviroment but if they are wasting time talking that has nothing to do with the team then they are not needed. It is not right to waste the time of other students that want to learn, the teachers who put in the extra time to help us out and the mentors coming from work not getting paid but are there just about every night to help us out.

If someone wants to be on the team they have to prove that they are commited to the team and just won't lose interest in a week or two, or only show up for trips to events.


i agree that there are many on teams that just come to hang out and they don't deserve to be there but... giving them the initial opportunity to try is different then telling them from the start that they can't

i think that a good way to eliminate people is to assign preseason projects to small groups and seeing who works and who doesn't. this will also give you a heads up on mechanism ideas for future robots.

JVN
10-14-2004, 02:12 AM
I've said this before:

I am STRONGLY against any sort of selection process for FIRST teams.

I feel that everyone benefits from this program, regardless of their level of participation, and as such... everyone should be given the opportunity to participate.


My sophmore year of High School, I applied to be on our FIRST team, and was summarily rejected. OUCH.
Who can believe it, JVN not allowed in FIRST? Yes, it's true. (Some people may wish things had stayed that way! but...)

I came back the next year, and (luckily for me) was accepted onto the team. FIRST has since changed my life, and helped to define my future (in ways most people probably can't even imagine).
Still... I find myself wondering what things would be like if I had participated in 1999, instead of having to wait for 2000.

I really just can't bring myself to look a student in the eye and say "Sorry, we've decided you're not allowed to have this positive, life-changing experience. Try again next year."

John

Elgin Clock
10-14-2004, 03:31 AM
I totally agree. But at our school it's just no use. We don't have organized sports teams/squads like most schools do so our FIRST team does receive a lot of attention, which is why we have hundreds of applicants. But's there's no way to handle a 100-person team.

We have all heard about teams involving students from different schools, but what about this thought for your highly interested school.

Is there any way to split off into two separate teams from the same school?

You say that your FIRST team receives a lot of attention. Milk it for all it's worth!! If you can split into two teams and have the same size team (26) but two teams of 26, then there is half your initial applicants right there.

The only problem I see with this of course is the money (and some logistics). You'll now have 2 Kits, 2 registration fees, travel for 2 teams. But, if you act as 1 entity when things like that come into play, and act as two separate entities when competition/build comes around then you should be good to go.

(Of course I say this now - not ever attempting something like this personally)

JohnBoucher
10-14-2004, 05:12 AM
For the most part, we welcome everyone and then allow the process to weed out those that are not fully committed.
Since the beginning of the school year, 90% of what we deal with at the meetings is about fund raising and that everyone needs to participate. This has lost us some of the new members, but it's our version of pay to play.
The team is also strict with grades. You must be passing everything to be on the team.
It is critical not to make exceptions. We explain the process and allow the process to work.

oreocookeee
10-14-2004, 05:45 AM
Team 810's policy is that anyone can join, regardless of academic credentials. the only requirement is for members to contribute to, and not hinder the teams effort. so far we have had about 70 people join our team this year, making the organization extrememly difficult. however, i think its extremely important for the team to be open to everyone because FIRST is about improving the students, not just trying to win the competition. its worth sacrificing some efficiency if it means that more students can be positively impacted by FIRST. Even weaker students deserve the opportunity to participate. my solution to the problem of involving all of the members is to divide them into much smaller workgroups, each of which will have its own projects to work on for this part of the year. we are also developing a point system based on attendance, participation, and fundraising. when the actual competition comes along, only those with the greatest amount of points will be allowed to travel.

do any other teams have similar merit point systems for deciding the travel team? if so, how do they work, and how well have the worked in past?

Bcahn836
10-14-2004, 06:29 AM
i agree that there are many on teams that just come to hang out and they don't deserve to be there but... giving them the initial opportunity to try is different then telling them from the start that they can't



We are giving everyone a chance, but when it comes time to make cuts those wasted time socializing we kindly ask them to leave, unless they can give a strong reason why they want to be on the team.

Cory
10-14-2004, 08:48 AM
have you ever made a rule like no freshmen? i know teams that do this and you would think that would help cut down the amount. i think that if cuts do have to be made they need to be made on other requirements then prior knowlage of robotics

That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. The fact that a team wouldn't allow freshman is pretty unbelievable. If you can't join a team as a freshman, you lose a whole year. It's gonna take you a year to learn stuff anyways, at least, so you basically get your junior and senior years to fully experience robotics.

I'm with John on this. I dont like having requirements, or an application process, but I've never had to deal with having a massive amount of people wanting to be on the team. I can understand why it has to be done though.

phrontist
10-14-2004, 10:28 AM
Wow. The scenario you describe boggles the mind. Truly.

Our system is simple and easy. The core members just work, and when we need help with something we ask whoever isn't doing anything. You don't help, you get the evil eye from everyone and you probably are motivated to do better, but if not you'll probably feel so socially awkward you won't show up again. You do help and we try to teach you.

The hope is that eventually these non-core members will have become proficient enough to start their own project, at which point the "circle of robotics" (ala Lion King) continues ;).

Too many members is an interesting problem. I'd make cuts based on semester Grade Point Average (or the brazillian equivalent, but absolutely NOT cumulative grade point average, as that would be totally unfair). This would have the pleasant side effect of motivating students to work harder in school. You have a set number of people you want on the team each year, then you order all the applicants by GPA and go down the list adding people to the team. If someone doesn't pull their weight, they are kicked out for that season and replaced with the next applicant on the list. I'm sure teachers would love you for motivating students.

JakeGallagher
10-14-2004, 03:55 PM
We get about 15-20 real members that will put forward the effort needed to do well on your team. In the past few years, we have had lots of people join the team in the first couple of meetings, but then drop out after a few weeks. One of the main reasons is because of the stress we place on fundraising. Another reason is because we require a certain amount of time to be put into the meetings and build time.
Our team has a rule that each member must log at least an attempt at a certain amount of fundraising; if they don't the member won't be able to attend the competitions. We have sports players that can't help raise money as much in the fall, but they usually make up for that in the winter. Like already stated, it IS a pay-to-play game and if someone doesn't want to put forth the time needed to get money for the team, we take that as a message that they don't want to really help the team at all.
Another rule that our team has is that each member must log a number of hours equal to at least half of the time that they have been on the team, or they can't go to the competitions. The reason this rule was implemented was because one year, we had a member that never showed up to any of the meetings, fundraising events, or build sessions--and still went to the competition. Worse than that, he decided that he was the one who was going to drive and made a big fuss about it. Aaanyways... We don't "cut" people off the team if they can't show up for meetings though. If the member can make a concerted effort to get to the meetings, and helps in any way they can, we still let them go.
What else...? Oh yeah. We have one last rule that limits the number of members to our team. It's a school-wide rule, but we enforce it much more strictly than the sports teams do. It's the grade rule. Each member of every team at our school must be passing three of their four classes to be on a team, and they must pass every class to attend a team function (such as a competition). Our FIRST team has had to take key members (last year, for example--our programmer, who had a 67, three points under passing) off the roster of people attending the competitions because of grades.
I don't know how much this will help you in your weeding/selection progress, but it seems to make it easy for my team to keep small numbers...whether that's good or bad. :|

$.02