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Wayne Doenges
08-21-2001, 11:07 AM
Let me first start out by saying that this posting is not written to offend or single out any one team. If it does, I'm sorry.

I've been thinking about this subject for a long time and I would like to know how you all feel about it.
During the regionals and nationals I kept hearing about how some of the robots were built entirely by the engineers and the students just learned how to run them.
I do not consider this fair to the students. They are the main reason F.I.R.S.T. was founded. What does the student learn from having the robot built by someone else? NOTHING!
I think the students should have a major share in the building of the bot. Oh, there are some thing that the engineers may have to do. On our bot an engineer did most of the TIG welding because none of the students could do it. Next year we have a couple of students that can weld, so they will.
Our robot was designed and built mostly by the students. The engineers helped with the hard tasks.
I know there is nothing in the rules about how much the engineers can do, but common sense should win out.
That's my opinion and I will stick to it.
Any comments, pro/con, would be appreciated.

*puts on asbestos underwear and prepares for the worst :)

Again, if I have offended anyone, I'm sorry.

Matt Leese
08-21-2001, 11:53 AM
I've heard that same statement made many many times. This has been particularly leveled at some teams (who shall remain nameless). My general opinion of this is that it's not based in truth. My personal belief is that these teams just do a better job of having students work together with engineers in order to create a better robot. Perhaps it's not true but I see little insentive to do anything else.

Matt

Jessica Boucher
08-21-2001, 12:11 PM
Two ways I feel about this:

1.) Andrew Rudolph showed me this link once of an independent listing of worldwide robotics competitions. FIRST was listed as "Texas BEST with engineers building the robots instead of the students".

2.) In 2000, when I was walking Dean around the VIP area, one of the VIPs inquired him about "students not building the robots, like the Delphi teams". Dean replied, "But, if I walked into the pits of any of those Delphi teams, and asked any of the students about the robot, they could explain every inch of it. Learning is important, not whether they built it or not".

Now, he may have changed his opinion about it, but....that is what Ive heard about that subject.

Dave Hurt
08-21-2001, 03:52 PM
I have to agree with Jessica. Back when I was with 308, not every student helped out with building the robot anyways. Students did help, but there's more to the competition then building the robot. Also have to remember, when it gets down to the crunch time, the engineers did most of the work because they worked on the robot around the clock, while the students still had to go to school. At least that's how it ended up with us.

- Dave

Carolyn Duncan
08-21-2001, 04:44 PM
On my old team the students did just about everything, which showed. The engineer help we had was minimal with respect to them actually building the robot. For the most part they were there over our shoulders to watch what we did and help if they saw something going wrong but they didn't take over teh project. The only part of the robot that was built mostly by engineers didn't work well with the rest of the bot so it became a hassle to us.
As far as teams having engineers build their entire bots: I don't particularly care for that. Sure they might be able to learn about everything that the engineers did and be able to regurgitate the info but they loose out on the hands on working with the parts and engineers as well as having an engineer looking over their shoulder to help.
Just my $0.02 :)

ColleenShaver
08-21-2001, 04:54 PM
Back in high school, certain students got to do certain jobs.. based mostly on your shown dedication towards the team and willingness to undertake tasks. However, it was often a lot of "go cut this to this and this length". I had the benefit of being allowed to take on and figure out tasks on my own, but I know the others had experiences the other way.

My freshman year in college at BU the students were eager to learn and build stuff-- and they did everything they could. But when many had a 2hour or more ride home on a couple trains and buses, their hours in the shop were minimal. We did our best to save the major tasks for the hours they were there though. It wasn't the best robot ever built, but they took pride in their contributions to it.

Presently on 190, much of the responsibility regarding the completion of jobs lies with college students. However, any kids that are they are always given work to do and taught how to use every machine. No matter how often they come to the shop, they can always jump in to help with building and creating.

Personally- I once had the perspective that many people have.. that i would NEVER want to be on a team where I didn't get to participate in building.. these teams, most often this stereotype is applied to Delphi teams, didn't do anything for the kids--

But if you ever spend the time to talk to kids from these teams, they learn so much. FIRST has literally changed the world where these kids come from and teaches them that LEARNING is important- not just learning how drill motors work, but algebra, english, physics, etc etc. The kids are pushed to focus on getting themselves educated with FIRST as an enhancement to that education. And they are usually expected to know how every aspect of the robot works and understand the concepts behind it.

Sometimes you get teams that students do it all.. and they spend so much time just trying to get the robot to work that they never have the time to be taught why it doesn't.

FIRST is about inspiration. How you choose to inspire is simply that, a choice. I bet the kids on of these 'engineer-built' teams know more about robotics in a year or two than I have learned in 6. I was inspired though- to do better, go to a technical college, and enter the work-force with a (somewhat) science-related job.

FIRST is about the students.. and to some kids, just showing them that this world exists and helping them understand that they can be part of it is inspiration enough.

That's respectable to me. Not every kid can leave every night with grease under there fingernails. But not every kids wants to either.

Accolades to everyone who's team inspires at least one kid to go into science and technology.. or renews on adult's feelings about why they entered the field in the first place ... or makes on kid who wouldn't have gone to college go.. or the team that allows a little hands on learning.. or the team that made their kids get their grades up before they could partake.. and on and on and on..

Inspiration is a wonderful thing.

Scott Wolfe
08-21-2001, 04:56 PM
I think that this is a very interesting subject to discuss. First of all, I am one of the Engineers on our team 470/Alpha Omega Robotics and I am a huge supporter of having the students do as much of the robot as possible. This includes design and build. For our team, conceptualization is done relativly equally across the team of adults and students. As for the actual design, this is probably right now 75% adult (with hopes to decrease this with student experience). Part fabrication right now is about 75% student on easy to medium difficulty parts and vise-versa for difficult parts. Actual assembaly and wiring is over 80% student, and programming was 99% student. The students may use slighty different numbers, but they are pretty close. There are some adjustments that we hope to make in these numbers as adults and students learn to use more advanced fabrication equipment and become more familiar with the engineering design process (we're kinda young - we recently completed our second year). I am very dissapointed to see teams that have robots that are almost totally built by adults. You don't need to be a genius to figure out which robots these are! It is great to say that the students are learning and are knowing their robot top to bottom. But to actually create the part and know what it takes to get to that finished part is worth so much more. I know too many adult engineers in the "real world" that design things without having knowledge of what it truely takes to make it beyond - mold it, machine it, stamp it, etc. and this is a huge downfall on their part. This is the perfect opportunity for students to know exactly what it takes, because they made it! Well, I'll get off my soapbox now, but I am a strong supporter of keeping this as much for the students as possible - we are merely facilitators for their creativity!

Scott

Pamela
08-21-2001, 05:39 PM
I feel that it is very important to incorporate the kids into the design and building process since it is the whole point of FIRST to inspire and teach kids about science. My team for years has had students in the machine shop working on the robot from when school got out until our machinist got tired and kicked us out for the night. You learn so much by actually being there and doing, the feelign oyu have looking at a completed robot that YOU MADE was enough to make me take a look at my priorities in what my decisions on colleges were. Until i joined FIRST all I cared about was getting into a good soccer school, I never once thought about the academics involved (sad, sad, sad). But once I got to work hands on the robot with the engineers helping us out and giving us instruction I decided to go to a good engineerign school so one day I could to work with high school kids in a great program like FIRST. Then my team took a turn for the worse, our engineers decided to build the robot WITHOUT us, I was crushed. Many of my teammates, including me, took six weeks off of work so we could build our robot. Instead our engineers worked on it alone, never includidng us in their plans. If I hadn't know a better program was once at my high school and I wasn't captain, I would have quit, I felt so bad for all the freshman, this made me not want to do robotics anymore, next year, we are sponsorless, but we'll make it, our team has heart and dedication from all the years WE MADE our robot, not from engineers not working with us on a robot.

Chris Hibner
08-21-2001, 06:07 PM
(Side note: Hey Dave - nice to hear from you. What ever happened to hockey?)

For our team, the design is about 75%/25% in favor of the engineers. We try to get the students involved as much as possible but the limited math/science background eliminates them from being able to do things that require a higher level of math and science (for instance, this past year's robot required about 2 pages of math to determine if our balance system would work. In the end, most of the students could understand the math but none of the students could do it themselves). However, when we do design, we always explain it to whichever student(s) are working with the engineer doing the design so that the students understand what is going on. As far as CAD work goes, most of that is done by the students. The engineers generally do analysis and make hand sketches. Then typically a student (but sometimes and engineer if we run out of student time) does the CAD drawings and checks for interferences, etc.

The fabrication is about 50-50. It starts out at about 80%/20% in favor of the students, but when crunch time comes around, it is about 80%/20% in favor of engineers. The reason, as Dave Hurt pointed out, is that the engineers will work until about 11:00 every night during the week and until about 2 a.m. or so on the weekends. We would get in trouble if we required the students to be there for all of that time. We tell the students that if they want to show up and help, they are more than welcome (and some do), but most of the students have homework and their parents won't allow them to be out that late.

I'll also point out that not all of the students on our team work with the robot. Some work on animation and the business side of the team.

Personally, it is my view that a student working with an engineer to solve a complex problem is much more inspiring than just having the student build a robot through trial-and-error. The inspiration comes from seeing how the math and science are used to solve the big problem, and that big problems can be tackled in a systematic fashion.

Clark Gilbert
08-21-2001, 06:22 PM
On my team (45) the students do a lot of the robot building....which is really cool and REALLY fun....when we get new students this year we will train and show them how to use all the tools in our shop so they can also help build the robot in the upcoming season... last season we even had a student design and build the entire gripper system that was used during the regional in Grand Rapids...


I also think that students should help as much as possible since building the robot is one of the most important things you do during the season....and if you dont help build it i believe u dont get the same feeling out of competing...:D

(Andy if u read this and think i left anything special out, help me)

Andrew Rudolph
08-21-2001, 09:30 PM
I rember from kickoff from this year Dean said gomthing about this topic, correct me if im wrong, He sid somthing along the lines of "FIRST is about students working with the engineers, not nessesarily building the whole robot, but learning alongside them as they build the machines and help when they can" Like i said i may be rembering it worng, someone correct me if i am.


Andrew

David Kelly
08-21-2001, 09:33 PM
Originally posted by Andrew Rudolph
I rember from kickoff from this year Dean said gomthing about this topic, correct me if im wrong, He sid somthing along the lines of "FIRST is about students working with the engineers, not nessesarily building the whole robot, but learning alongside them as they build the machines and help when they can" Like i said i may be rembering it worng, someone correct me if i am.


Andrew

you're exactly right. i remember him saying that too

Clark Gilbert
08-21-2001, 09:36 PM
I like "students building a lot of the robots with engineers helping/teaching/coaching along the way"....

Mimi Brown
08-21-2001, 10:31 PM
Coming from a team based in a very very small school (think 400 kids in grades 9-12), and limited funding, our students build most all of the bot. Starting out with a weeklong brainstorm in small groups, our team then comes together to get the best design possible. Our engineers were fantastic, ever before the season, they come in and run usthrough mini-labs to gie us the skills we will need for the upcoming season. They taught us everything we needed to know, they were the supervisors that made sure we didnt totally mess up each task, and helped out when necessary. By the time regionals rolled around, everyone could go over the robot inch by inch.

Whether or not each team has the engineers build the robot, or if the students do it, wat matters is that the students learn . The skills that we learn, not the robot, are what we will take with us from our experiance from FIRST.

~Mimi

Andy Baker
08-21-2001, 11:44 PM
Originally posted by Clark Gilbert

(Andy if u read this and think i left anything special out, help me)

You got it, Clark. I'll add some.

We've come a long way. I'm going to write a lot on this subject, so bear with me.

In 1992, our robot was built by UAW skilled tradesmen in the shop at Delco Electonics... many overtime hours, much $$ on labor spent. The students were handed the robot at the end of 5 weeks (we started a week late).

In 2001, here is the make-up of how our robot was...

Built: 80-90% was built by students. The remainder was built by engineers, parents, and teachers. Some of these adults know more about fabricating parts than our students, and some know less. Even the most difficult parts (dual motor drive assembly) was made by students, 100%. The people who put together, debugged, and repaired this assembly were mostly students (the Gilberts, by the way). Only about 8-10 hours of "professional" help was needed for our robot by the UAW skilled trades guys at Delphi (4 shafts pinned and 2 chains welded).

Concepted: Our entire team comes up with concepts for the robot, much like many teams. We actually split up into 4 sub-teams to come up with our robot concept.

Designed: 10-15% of our robot was designed by students. This year, our lead student designer (Phil Lundberg) led a team of students who designed the gripper system on SolidEdge CAD, generated prints, and managed the fabrication and assembly of these two subassemblies.
... The majority of the robot was mechanically designed by 2 engineers. An entire print package was created and students could see how machines are supposed to be designed.

Programmed and wired: This is probably our weakest area with regard to student involvement. Our students wire about 30-40% of the robot, and do less with regard to programming... BUT we are going through a change with that. Last year, only 1 student was interested in programming, and we have 3 freshmen coming in who want to focus on software development. Also, our electrical lead student is returning, and he learned alot last year.

As for the generalization that the Delphi teams don't have student involvement... that is ridiculus. Our students are tested on the game, the robot and our team history. Along with building the majority of the robot, they are expected to give demonstrations and give back to their community. Actually, this year, they will be creating a robotic project which helps special needs children in the Kokomo community... and they will be in charge of the project.

FIRST is not a science fair, and it's not called FERST. Education is not the same as inspiration, as colleen wisely pointed out above.

For the teams who make robots which are 100% student designed and built, I greatly respect you. But, I also challenge you to go out and ask a few engineers this: "We want to learn about technology and engineering from you... will you please help us?"

Andy B.

Kyle Fenton
08-22-2001, 12:06 AM
There are so many parts in building a robot including but not limited to....

1. brainstorming
2. designing
3. testing/making components of the robot
4. building the chaise
5. wiring
6. programming
7. testing robot under real conditions
8. Beautifying it

I know that almost at least a student worked on one part, expect for the programming, because it is really hard and no time to learn PBasic, even though I know a lot of Visual Basic.

A lot of students beautifying their robot to make it look presentable. Remember there is an award for the most attractive looking robot.

Griff
08-22-2001, 12:03 PM
On team 69, the Students Come up with the concepts, and General Design. The engineers help figure out how to get it to work, then as a team we build it. The Students doing most of it, with the More Experienced Students (program veterans) and the engineers Due the More Complex Work, and the Machinists due the aluminum welding and other such trade skills not had by students. Building Wise, Id Say it leans towards the Students just because there is so much work thatís not extremely complicated (until it all goes together).

But Keep in mind that the Rookie teams have it tougher, it would be like upcoming Freshmen, there Skills arenít there yet, and they need someone to help show them. So when you hear the rumors about a freshmen team, it could be true, but donít expected it the next year.

A. Leese
08-22-2001, 02:29 PM
On my team, the work is equally shared in many aspects. We've always had a great deal of students who about live to design, build, and test our bot.
Our engineers mainly do the design, but they take any and all suggestions that students come up with in designing the bot. Pretty much, we come up with ideas, they explain why or why they wouldn't work, then all of our ideas are put on paper by the engineers (mainly b/c most of the people with ideas have never even used CAD or AutoCAD in their life).

Once it gets down to building the bot, things are a little different. Until this next season, we've always had two adults machine most of the parts, do to a lack of equipment that we have access to (due to age and location). Some parts students make, but the actually heavy machining is up to the adults. Building the bot itself is everyone's job, whether they want it to be or not. It's not like we're forced to put something together but if you're in the SPAM Pit with nothing obvious that you're doing (generally if you're not on the programing team or doing the newsletter/site), you are, um, highly encouraged by one of the adults to help out. Each year a few specific students will take over and do most of the work.

In those last about six hours, when all of us students are home asleep after being at the SPAM Pit for 12 plus hours straight, the engineers finish up the last minute things (which usually involves screwing everything together and getting rid of extra weight). So. Yeah. We all build it. It could be a bit better about students getting a say in the design of the bot, but it's good as it is.

~Angela who just realized she's been too hard on her team's engineers in the past

Matt Reiland
08-22-2001, 07:14 PM
The first year that I saw the Delphi teams, I almost fell over in amazement.

In a team's first year it is hard to even imagine what the capabilities of a robot, designed and built in just weeks, could be capable of. And my first impression was whoa who built that, the skunk works?

But then I, like many others, realized that asking almost any student on the teams left you with the impression that they knew how it was designed, how to drive it and how to repair it. And on top of that there was no feeling that anything was hidden.
Just look at the technical knowledge handed out on this site alone.

I sometimes feel bad because the attitude on our team seems to be its ours or its yours; some feel the sponsor is just a source of funds. The worst thing for me was to see a design get built that was an obvious disaster that spent valuable time and money when something better could have been made. Experience from parents and engineers can highlight design errors that aren't obvious especially to people without a background in mechanics or electronics. My personal opinion on FIRST is that it is designed to get students excited about engineering, see whats possible, and to maybe become the scientists, engineers and Technical Graphics superstars of the future. I don't think the goal was for students to build robots and give parts to engineers to have machined or welded. Working together to come up with the slickest design, the most robust and efficient design, thatís the goal. One of the reasons people get so upset on this topic is because some people (like me) are a little jealous at the time, design, and execution that some of the teams are able to pull off. I leave the competition each year amazed at the features, construction, and in general the attitude of the teams that come there to win.

Remember the word TEAM, it's the buzzword in every corporation right now.

meaubry
09-02-2001, 08:16 AM
Who turned that bolt? Who welded that joint? Who drilled that hole? Now that's INSPIRATIONAL!

The point that Dean is trying to make with this very complex experience, (which includes everyone involved) is that Inspiring students to CONSIDER the Science, Math, and all of the Technology fields does NOT demand student building the robots.

Its not even about Learning about robots, all that is a BONUS.

The confusion is in the interpretation of "HOW to INSPIRE!" Its NOT about WHO built your robot! It's about - Did we inspire the students to either continue or consider a future in the areas that we all know and love (Engineering, Math, Science, Bio-Medical, Computers, etc)

Successful programs accomplish this regardless of Who Built the Robot - instead of this question why not ask, "Did we successfully Inspire the students? What is our track record? How many are interested enough to continue their education in a related field? How many student team members would be willing to say that they continue to be, or are now committed to pursueing a degree because of what they witnessed by participating on the FIRST team?

That to me is what is important - by the way, I also commend ALL of the teams that are 0 to 100% student built robots - But, Don't confuse the ends with the means.

Matt Reiland
09-03-2001, 01:05 PM
Right on the money Meaubry

ErikJusten
09-10-2001, 10:02 AM
After having particpated in FIRST the last few years, and having looked around and seen how other groups operate, I've formulated my own opinions. I have to agree with the arrangement that team 308 has, and that's about how team 677 operates (though I'd like the numbers to shift more to the high school students). It is extremely difficult for us to go over certain topics in an appropriate level of detail, as not all the students have the math and physics background needed to make the disucssion worthwhile. This was extremely difficult for us this first year, since the HS student knowledge base simply wasn't there. There we times when we would toss out the words moment or torque, and then realize that we needed to explain what those were first. It's not like our girls are stupid - far from it - they just lack the knowledge base to design and build a robot from scratch. But..... our hope that this by having them build with us, and looking over our shoulders while we design, they learn by watching, and then by doing (we had the girls design a cart for our robot this year). If you couple that with an effective fall program (I'll post my written documents on what we do eventually, but we're trying something different so I'd rather wait until I see how it works before I suggest our methods), you've got the pieces in place to change that 80%/20% ratio. Granted, this will take 2 or 3 years to build the good knowledge base among the HS students so that their junior/senior year the students can do some design, but it can still happen.

However.... I'm not saying that by the end of 4 years the robot will be built entirely by HS students - that's just not feasible. Sure, they could probably design and build something, but I'd fear that too many failures in the process would make cynics out of them and turn them off of engineering. And... time is another factor (as already pointed out). As a team of college students, and not having "real jobs" or "a wife and kids" or "needing sleep", we have the luxary of pulling the late hours during crunch time if we need to (and this year we didn't really need to - we only stayed to 2 or 3 AM 2 or 3 times - a complete first for us. In years past, with another team, we spent crazy hours - I had a 50 hour day once). However, I think you could realistically make that ratio 60/40 engineers, and still produce a quality machine that could be competitive (depending on how luck dependent the game is that particular year).

GregT
09-10-2001, 06:40 PM
My team didn't really have any active engeneers. It was designed and built completely by highschool and college students. Our only active engeneer came into the picture after we had designed everything and was basically a machinist (and a dang good one).

I think designing and building is everything compaired to knowing how somthing works. Look at your car. You know how it works, but given a bunch of parts could you design and build one just as good?

Greg

Matt Reiland
09-10-2001, 08:56 PM
Greg T you bring up an excellent point.

Which is exactly why you wouldn't give a 'bunch of parts' to someone that just started building cars and expect them build a world class product. It takes years of experience and training. New engineers learn with more experienced engineers until someday the student has become the teacher.

This comes from my own personal experience designing and building cars, I mean trucks. (Right now I am in OKC launching the Trailblazer and Envoy XL SUV's) I didn't just start at GM and just go launch a bodyshop, it wouldn't have worked. But now after a few years I understand things better, what works and what doesn't, yet I still have alot to learn. Almost every engineer will continue to learn for their entire life.

The only way to go in FIRST is to be a TEAM

ErikJusten
09-11-2001, 09:02 AM
Matt/Greg,

You bring up some good points. If I read this right, you are agreeing in saying that it is difficult at best for the students to try to put something together on their own, but that they can with help. At what point do you think that the students can begin taking ownership of something, and become the teachers? In our old team only seniors were allowed on the team (which I thought was silly), so this will be our first time of having repeat customers, so to speak. I'm interested in what teams have done long term to keep the student interest high. What I'd ultimately like to do is have some design component, however small, be done entirely by the students, though it would probably be the "older" team members (those that have been around 3+ years, with a select few who are around for their second year).


One of my concerns is student retention. We have a pretty agressive fall program that was a carry over from out 128 days. What happens when a student sees the same thing 3 time? I can't make the labs more challenging, or I loose the new students. I can't run separate sessions, or I add division to the team. I'd probablly like to have the older students run some of the labs - that might take care of the issue somewhat. But...then this just carries through into the winter - I don't want to push the girls so much that they get burnt out, and to the point where we don't turn out a quality product. But... at the same time I don't want to dumb things down to the point where the girls loose interest. How have people remedied this in the past? Or, is this a non-issue?

Erik

(PS - we are also an all college student team (with the exception of 3 parents that help out and do some great work for us) - I just have a gripe about the "college student is not an engineer" designation, espeically for older college students - I've met plenty of people with engineer in their job title that don't have engineering degrees...... but that's a whole different topic that I'd rather not get in to)

Carolyn Duncan
09-11-2001, 08:05 PM
Originally posted by ErikJusten
Matt/Greg,
I don't want to push the girls so much that they get burnt out, and to the point where we don't turn out a quality product. But... at the same time I don't want to dumb things down to the point where the girls loose interest. How have people remedied this in the past? Or, is this a non-issue?
Erik
There we times when we would toss out the words moment or torque, and then realize that we needed to explain what those were first. It's not like our girls are stupid - far from it - they just lack the knowledge base to design and build a robot from scratch.

Why does it have to be girls? Is it an all girl team?

ErikJusten
09-12-2001, 12:17 AM
Sorry about that - I have a tendancy (that I need to break myself of) of refering to them as "the girls." Yes, this is an all female team (well, on the HS side of things anyway - we work with Columbus School for Girls, but the number of characters displayed in my mini-profile on the sidebar is too small to show that). Didn't mean to make any sexist generalizations or anything - just a bad habit.

Lord Nerdlinger
02-06-2003, 01:22 AM
We have no mentors, and our "team coach" is just the science teacher who acts as a front, he isn't involved at all, and I don't think he reallly knows anything about the competition. Basically we just got some money, and we've taken care of the whole thing. Our robot isn't the best, or really that creative, but it was built 100 percent by kids. (most of which have no experience) We've just used the forums to find answers for things. You'd be suprised as to how resourceful kids can be in getting things done.

Rob Colatutto
02-06-2003, 06:38 AM
we have a machinist, an engineer who throws out ideas, one who has a lot of contacts, a person who supplies us with metal, a company with a watercutter (we have yet to use them) and a cool machinist who makes our tranny plates from the autocad drawing we supply him with. everything on our robot is student designed and built, with the exception of tranny plates because they do need to be very exact and we have no milling or cnc machines at my school. everything else on the robot is completely student designed and built. thats where our motto comes in, 'student built, engineer approved'. our engineers are basically there to guide us not to make something impossible to build with our resources, and to take mcmaster parts numbers :D

SuperJake
02-06-2003, 07:32 AM
One thing I like about my team is that the engineers just kind of point you off in a direction and the students pick up on that point and expand. In the early design stages, every student comes up with at least one drawing (done on a transparency to be presented on an overhead) of a robot or robot component they'd like to see on our 'bot. These aren't CAD drawings or anything close, they are just sketches. The team votes on the pieces we want, and then try to come up with an assembly for those pieces that will make the most sense.

The engineers come in and work a little ProE magic (since most of the students haven't even heard of CAD software) and come up with a base plan. Since we don't have any welding facilities on site, the only parts we get welded are done by an external fab shop and that is limited to major frame components (no sub-components unless they are of special importance - this year no sub-components were done off-site).

Then the students work closely with engineers and our AWESOME machinist to make parts for the 'bot. If the job was done poorly, or doesn't look nice, the job is used as our "prototype" and then the "final" is produced after the student knows what the part needs to look like. We basically only use the engineers as a quick reference for drill sizes (they usually respond, "Look at the chart. We have a nice chart RIGHT NEXT TO THE DRILL with drill sizes. I EXPECT THAT TO ME MEMORIZED BY TOMORROW!"), material recommendations, and their contacts for the different material vendors. Its funny because some people will come over and ask if a given part was done by an engineer just because it looks like a professional machined it and the person that built that part will point to their initials punched into the part. We are very proud of our work and the engineers & machinist don't let us get away with poor craftsmanship.

John Bono
02-06-2003, 08:18 AM
We have a grand total of one college student and one physics theacher beign all we have over High School student age. And the Physics teacher is only in the area of the bot half the time, telling us if something won't work (and that's only if it will waste at least an hour). He's so awesome.
Too bad our fishing boat last year didn't work...

Clanat
02-06-2003, 12:02 PM
I agree with the sentiment that sometimes students don't do enough on the robot. I am also disappointed with the teams that say students do less than 20% of the design. How is that a student product, even if they do a lot of the building?

Gope
02-06-2003, 12:23 PM
On our team we have several voulenters that are "macheenists" that work with a few engineers to construct our robot. Whatever work that can be done by students is done by them, and they all love it. I think our system is very much in the spirit of FIRST and allows for students to learn everything about the robot and alot about the tools in the machine shop we use.



Good luck at nats.

Marc P.
02-06-2003, 12:38 PM
My thoughts as a student, having participated on my team for 4 years, (although now I've graduated and am now referred to as a "mentor") are this: There should be a balance between engineers and students, and between design and fabrication.

On my team, students come up with the ideas for what the robot will do, e.g. what it's functions are, what it's strategy will be, etc. Unfortunately, most high school students lack the engineering experience to design the specifics on how a certain mechanism will perform it's task. Our engineers sort of mentally prod students into spitting out ideas on how to create something, then the engineer will come up with the specific design, print it out with dimensions, explain to the student exactly how it works, then let the student fabricate and implement the part.

This is the situation for most of the complex mechanisms in our robot, and most of the simpler tasks (e.g. idlers) are designed and manufactured by seasoned students who have the experience of previous years. As a result, the bulk of the complex design work is done by engineers, while the majority of the fabrication is done by students.

I'd write and explain more, but at present I've the biggest headache I've had in a long long while, so I'll forego the explanation of why this is more beneficial to students than having engineers build the entire robot, and simply explain what they are doing.

Jeff Waegelin
02-06-2003, 09:41 PM
Wow.... way to bring back an old thread....

Anyways, my team typically builds about 95% of our robot on our own. A few parts, such as gears for our transmission and a few other parts are done by outside shops, but the rest of it is designed and built by our students and our teacher. This year, a little less is being done by us, since all the aluminum for our frame is being welded by GM (we don't have the tools to do it ourselves), but we are building the steel prototype ourselves. Basically, we're gonna build it all ourselves first, then swap out the steel for aluminum to save weight.

Moshingkow
02-06-2003, 09:49 PM
Our robot is 100% student designed. It is troubleshooted a bit by mentors, but this year our robot came out of the students minds. The mechanisms, the Autocad (i did that with another student) and the way it all fits was done completely by students.

Building is 95% done by students. The teachers and mentors are mainly there for advise and administrative reasons. They order the materials, help us with our problems with building and such.

We only have one engineer helping our team, but he cant really help us as much as we would like.

We are not only building our robot with our time though... On saturdays, we have two other rookie teams come to our school to work on their robots in our machine shops as they lack there own. On the 15th, we are going to have half a field built, and we are going to host a trial run with a few robots from the NYC area.

I think our team is really the epitome of the FIRST Spirit!

Tenkai

Shawn60
02-06-2003, 10:04 PM
We are very fortunate to have on our team the owner and lead man of one of the largest machine shops west of the Mississippi helping us design and build the robot. We (students/teachers/machinists) spend about 30-40 hours a week working together in the machine shop. With their help our students are able to ACTUALLY DESIGN AND BUILD our robot. Yes the machinists do come up with a lot of the more advanced solutions to problems. As a teacher I think that is great. The experience of the machinists allows the students and MYSELF to be inspired and amazed by possibilities that we never dreamed possible. Using ideas of dedicated and willing machinists does not hinder student learning. On the contrary, I feel that the ideas of experts in "real life" design applications are not only good but essential for student learning.

When someone asks me who built your robot? I reply "THE TEAM DID". We are all members of the same team. We are all in this together.

Shawn
Team 60

Mullen
02-06-2003, 10:11 PM
one other thing than who builds the robot is who works on it in the pits, last year at Chicago our team was approached by news reporters for one reason, according to them we were "The first team we've seen so far where the students are doing the work on the robot" i see a problem where students are actually encouraged to stay out of the pit area, how does keeping them out of the pits INSPIRE kids?

Cory
02-06-2003, 10:11 PM
Originally posted by Moshingkow
Our robot is 100% student designed. It is troubleshooted a bit by mentors, but this year our robot came out of the students minds. The mechanisms, the Autocad (i did that with another student) and the way it all fits was done completely by students.

Building is 95% done by students. The teachers and mentors are mainly there for advise and administrative reasons. They order the materials, help us with our problems with building and such.

We only have one engineer helping our team, but he cant really help us as much as we would like.

We are not only building our robot with our time though... On saturdays, we have two other rookie teams come to our school to work on their robots in our machine shops as they lack there own. On the 15th, we are going to have half a field built, and we are going to host a trial run with a few robots from the NYC area.

I think our team is really the epitome of the FIRST Spirit!

Tenkai

wow that is so cool. Helping two other teams, and still managing to build your own bot! My hat is off to you and your team.

Cory

John Bono
02-06-2003, 10:35 PM
I seem to remember hearing one of the mentors from one of thier team specifically told me and a freind of mine (who can back me up) that ONLY TWO STUDENTS WERE ALLOWED TO WORK ON THE ROBOT AT A TIME. That might not be a big problem, but when anything smaller than the concept and general profile of the vehicle is designed by the adults (did I mention that while there are only two students, there are four of them, at least one standing over thier shoulders at any given time, telling them what to do. I don't care if they tell them why--you're supposed to figure out the how by yourself--you learn it better that way--a teacher should simply be a guide). Now I'm not going to name any names, but anyone at the LA regionals last year knows exactly who I'm talking about. Oh how I wish we even had access to a machine shop (everything we do is made with what's in the class room--our most advanced pieces of machinary are the drillpress and jigsaw).
On a side note, I just realized that Socrates is a bigger martyr than Jesus. At least some people CLAIM to understand and follow Jesus' teachings.

Joe Matt
02-06-2003, 10:39 PM
Sparky is designed, built, programed, and tested by students. Sure, you don't win or get the Chairmans, but you learn. :)

John Bono
02-06-2003, 10:59 PM
Our sentiments exactly. Although if our pitching machine & grabbers didn't break over shipping last year we SO would've taken regionals. I'm serious, this thing would've been able to scoop up a ball a second, if it could get its hands on them (and we had a 3 ft. wide scoop). Ah.. the fishing rig...
http://www.atech.org/faculty/mjohnson/firstpictures/016.jpg
http://www.atech.org/faculty/mjohnson/firstpictures/017.jpg
http://www.atech.org/faculty/mjohnson/firstpictures/018.jpg
http://www.atech.org/faculty/mjohnson/firstpictures/021.jpg

PyroPhin
02-07-2003, 12:25 AM
how can you learn if you dont get your hands dirty?

Yes, i agree that FIRST is not about actually building a robot, but how can you learn and get inspired about technology if you are sitting on the sidelines?

what Dean Kamen set out for FIRST to symbolize is teams puting aside there differences and working towards a common goal..

I belive that many teams have lost sight of the goals Dean origionally set out for us, and shifted towards a "winning is everything" mentality.
although the winning teams walk away with medals, trophies and banners, the real winners are the teams that didnt make it and still walk away with a grin on there face that something that was, at one time an idea on paper just rolled arround an arena for a day or two. They are the ones who walk away with the connections, the experience, and the feeling of " Even it it wasnt the best robot, it's our robot."

in the immortal words of KMFDM " DIY! Destroy what destroys you! DIY, Do or Die.."

Just my opinion
~Pyro

LaurenH
02-07-2003, 01:28 AM
It's hard to tell we have 9 high school students and 6 MSOE students (5 of which are freshman). Were are all close in experence, and who ever wasn't quickly catched up. For the most part each student (HS) had their turn in welding, cutting, lathing, drilling, assembling, designing, ect... One of the teachers and an one of our skilled (HS) students did all the CNC parts.

I fact I think I ask the (HS) student for more help then they ask me.

It's a great feeling when you get the shy-freshman (HS)programer to use the pneumatic nail shooter, and lather all our secret weapons.

So...as far as it goes everyone does everything, you come to our meetings you are put to work (we even ask the janitor, but he only wanted to watch :( ) .

One more week left to go and were still in piece, luck to everyone.

John Bono
02-07-2003, 08:20 AM
I still don't think a bot where even half the work is done by non students can be considered even legitimite. Watching someone solve a problem is leagues apart from solving it yourself--you should know that from any math class. It isn't just the knowledge--it's the experience and smarts you develop along the way.
On a side note, how do some teams even GET that many teams. What over-bloated company is sponsering these teams? We haven't had one single engineer. Ever. Our only non-student is our physics teacher, who only says if something will work or not--the rest is done by us (except that he'll hold something that we're cutting occasionally).

Katie Reynolds
02-07-2003, 08:51 AM
Originally posted by PyroPhin
how can you learn if you dont get your hands dirty?

Yes, I agree that FIRST is not about actually building a robot, but how can you learn and get inspired about technology if you are sitting on the sidelines?
As long as a student comes out of FIRST inspired about science and technology, the team has been successful. I used to have the same mentality - "how can you be inspired if you aren't doing anything?" I've come to realize that while I need to get my hands dirty and actually work on something to learn about it, some people can learn by just 'sitting on the sidelines' and watching. I know of a few students on my team who just watch people. They don't do too much mechanically, but they learn a lot just by watching.

On my team, almost everything is done 100% by students. Strategy, robot concepts, choosing a design, building the robot, machining the parts, wiring, programming, testing, debugging - even things like the BOM, ordering parts, animations, Chairman's, fund raising ideas, printing t-shirts, ordering swappables ... it's all student done. Our engineers and teachers are wonderful - they let us make mistakes, so we learn from them. They help us out with the design (letting us know what concepts are feasible and what concepts could probably be refined), and make sure we stay on track. I don't think my team could function any other way.

- Katie

johnscans
02-07-2003, 09:49 AM
our robot is entirely student built. we have 2 mentors. is our head mentor who helps with everything, but is a preety gold welder and the other is good with electronics. its definately more rewarding when you know that all the work was done by students.

john scans

Matthew936
02-07-2003, 10:18 AM
I hate to say it but our robot is 80% engineer built, it started out as student built, we even went to the machine shop and ran the mills. but the mentors decided to have the engineers do a little work for us over a weekend, and next thing we know we got a working chasis with drivetrain, controls and a lifting arm that worked, much to our dismay.

Having a dozen+ engineers sucks

Adam Y.
02-07-2003, 10:29 AM
Sparky is designed, built, programed, and tested by students. Sure, you don't win or get the Chairmans, but you learn.
I think a student built robot would actually help improve your chances of getting the chairman's award.:)

EvilInside
02-07-2003, 10:33 AM
Our team is 95% student designed and built. We have one physics teacher, one engineer, and the owner of Price Engineering. The engineer welds and troubleshoots a bit, the owner orders a few parts from time to time, and the physics teacher helps with programming a bit, but our robot is and always has been student dominated.

Shawn60
02-07-2003, 06:39 PM
On a side note, how do some teams even GET that many teams. What over-bloated company is sponsering these teams? We haven't had one single engineer. Ever. Our only non-student is our physics teacher, who only says if something will work or not--the rest is done by us (except that he'll hold something that we're cutting occasionally).

Bono

Would you like access to more engineers/machinists/sponsors? We made A LOT of money in a couple of months doing presentations for companies. We have access to a professional machine shop and machinists. You are in Vegas and we are in Kingman (1.5-2 hours away). I am sure we could set something up.That goes for any other teams near Vegas or Kingman.

e-mail me at thefamh@frontiernet.net

Shawn Hardina
Teacher/Adviser
Team 60

John Bono
02-07-2003, 07:19 PM
Well, considering we're finishing the actual body on Monday--it's to late for this year. NEXT year, however...
Bleh--I don't like talking business, especially since I'll be off in Indiana this time next year most likely. And I laugh at your time approximation. It takes an hour and a half just to get to state line.
And remember, Vegas is very different than any other city in the country. CASINOS RUN THE STATE GOVERNMENT AND *HATE* EDUCATION. In fact, education generally isn't really respected in the Las Vegas Valley at all. Trust us, we've been trying--although I don't know about the machine shop dealy.

andy
02-07-2003, 08:02 PM
Look....
We are a rookie team, we have about 3 people who know about mechanical stuff and about 20 who are interested in electrical. We are a magnet school meaning every one is unbelieviebly smart at math and science (well some of us)(I personally enjoy the luxury of a seinor in AP BC Calculus-my own walking calculator)

But I digress...
The robot so far has been 100% student designed built and tested (what we have to test) (Except some TIG welding on our chassis) (you really ought to get a pro to do that otherwise they dont work really well)(and he tought us to do it so we can do it next year)

Our teacher is an electrical engineer and is not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to mechanics. We have no engineers. So we basically build by "the seat of our pants"

Dont knock the engineers I wish we had 'em we really have no clue what we are diong and an engineer that would help out would be great. Our robot in my opinion will kick butt and it is incriediable simple. Nothing fancy. Again the robot is a delicate balence between engineering and how well the engineer/s(to be) get along with one another. Just kidding!

Honestly i think if we had some engineers to help out it would result in a better robot but would we still inspire....

Wow that turned into a ramble...
-Andy

GregT
02-07-2003, 09:46 PM
Way to bring up a 2 year old thread :)

Greg

evulish
02-07-2003, 10:02 PM
Chuck has become a more-and-more engineer-built robot. Sad. The students come up with the basic ideas. Then the engineers refine them, draft them, change them. They have the drive-train built, all the placement figured out. Then the students cut parts. The majority of the season is watching the engineers work. There are days when there are no students even involved (because we aren't allowed, I guess). I think us students have a small idea of what's going on with the robot but not sure of the reasoning behind all the stuff. It's really not all that fun this year :/

D. Gregory
02-07-2003, 10:51 PM
Our team is student designed and run. Us students completely design, refine, and draft the rovot. For the building, often it is the students setting up the cut/drill and the adult pressing the button and push/pulling. This is because our board has insanely strict regulations about students using power tools. For a school with 2200 students and class sizes of 25-30, we only have 3 teachers who are allowed to supervise us cutting. One of them is on our team but we can't expect him to be with us all the time. We have two mentors, a former team member who has mentored us since our 2000-2001 Canada FIRST season, and another adult who helps us with cutting and building. Our first mentor acts as a regular team member who doeasn't need supervision cutting. Our second member acts as the hand who presses the power button. Our team is more rookie this year than it was last years. Last year most, of our team was returning members from the previous Canada FIRST year. Out of 32 members this year, there are only 3 returning members. I really don't have a problem with heavily mentored teams as long as the students in the pits know their robot. It bugs me when
a) You see 5 mentors working around a robot with no students helping
b) When the students don't know how their robot works.
Mentors are a very important part of FIRST but student learning and experience is what makes FIRST what it is. Some teams may want to re-evaluate how they work. A mentor-less FIRST would not be good but a mentor-run FIRST would ruin it. One issue that hasn't been looked at is that heavily mentored teams set the bar so high for complicated scoring bots that it forces less supported teams to take the simpler pusher/power route in order to remain competitive. If anything, overly mentored teams decrease the creativity of un-supported teams who wish to remain competitive.

sanddrag
02-07-2003, 10:59 PM
Our robot is 95% student designed and 97% student built. The engineers and mentors only point out if there is something fataly wrong with a design and we fix it. As for the building, the only parts not done by students are 2 CNCed parts and 4 welds.

FAKrogoth
02-07-2003, 11:11 PM
On our 'bot, everyone who is really interested works. Except for those working on the Inventor stuff and the website, the entire team is the mechanical team. For example, I'm the one with the most experience in Inventor, but I spend 85 minutes every day on the mechanical stuff. I can't really work on the modeling, because I'm out of the loop (the CADDlab and school as a whole are on separate networks, and I haven't remembered my Novell password in the past 13.5 months). However, despite my lack of official duties, I don't think it will be a problem getting one of the coveted spots on the team at Regionals (We can only take ~8-10 students).

As for engineers/professionals/parents/adults of any sort other than Mr. Johnson, we have absolutely none. Even the Engineering Technologies teacher is not involved. (why we haven't asked him is another thing entirely. We're just happy he's letting us use the drill press) I can say with complete confidence that our robot is 100% student-done. That is, IF you consider our lone (freshman) alumnus (who really doesn't know more than us yet) a student.

AJ Quick
02-07-2003, 11:47 PM
I'm glad to say that our robot has only really been worked on 10% by the engineers, and 90% the students (50% RBayer). I have heard that in past years, the ratio was the other way around, and I know that drove new members away from the team.

Next year, there should be high interests in it.

Bruce C.
02-08-2003, 12:12 AM
Originally posted by Pamela
But once I got to work hands on the robot with the engineers helping us out and giving us instruction I decided to go to a good engineerign school so one day I could to work with high school kids in a great program like FIRST.

And I think you picked a fine Engineering School! :)

Seriously, I agree with everything you said. On my team, we engineers (most with 20-30 years experience) are trying to have the students do as much as possible. However, there are some things, mostly organizational, that we really have to take charge of, or there would be no robot on shipping day. Our team is only in it's third year, and a solid organizational system hasn't yet evolved. All of us mentors/engineers are in a military organization, and are used to taskings, responsibility, mission accomplishment, and rigid discipline. We are at the school working on the robot nearly every day, but most students show up sporatically. So we end up being the continuity.

It is gratifying this year to see that a couple of the freshman and sophmore students have really grasped the concept of the electrical and control systems, and can operate without much guidance in that area. They still need a LOT of help in the mechanical and drivetrain area. They have lots of ideas, but can't execute them. The engineers have to guide them into the realm of the possible. But that will change. As the team gets more experience, they'll be able to do that, too.

Great discussion. My philosophy is just try to make it better every year.

Regards, and have fun in the frozen Northland,

Bruce C.
BSEE
Clarkson College of Technology, Class of '70

John Bono
02-08-2003, 12:22 AM
Originally posted by evulish
Chuck has become a more-and-more engineer-built robot. Sad. The students come up with the basic ideas. Then the engineers refine them, draft them, change them. They have the drive-train built, all the placement figured out. Then the students cut parts. The majority of the season is watching the engineers work. There are days when there are no students even involved (because we aren't allowed, I guess). I think us students have a small idea of what's going on with the robot but not sure of the reasoning behind all the stuff. It's really not all that fun this year :/
That's gotta suck. Why even bother making a bot if you don't learn anything?

R2K2D2
02-09-2003, 12:14 AM
on our team, 461 we have incredible student participation in the entire process during the build season. this is my first year on team 461 as a Purdue college engineering advisor and the kids are phenomenol. they are totally involved in everything. we start off the build season in small groups where everyone comes up w. ideas and contribute to the team.

after the general design is chosen, the students totally step up in the design process. this year we used Autodesk Inventor, in the kit, and modeled the entire robot on it. the kids did a lot of modeling in Inventor and designing in inventor. even though there was a lot of questions and asking and discussing of items, thats wat the entire learning process is all about! it was awesome working w. such enthusiastic kids who wanted to design parts and concepts w. ur aid, instead of u doing it and being like this is how it is done. sure kids had questions but it was more like a college advisor sits in the chair next to them and discusses and shows them and guides them. sure as college advisors we did do CAD work, but i would still say our students had an incredible amount of participation in the design process.

after the bot was designed in Inventor the kids and advisors made drawings for all the parts and fabrication began. even during this part of the process the students had HUGE involvment. they spend a lot of time working on fabrication and assembly of the bot. i think many of them found it gratifying to be fabricating the parts and concepts that they had such huge involvement in designing. even w. complex parts, like every robot has, we team up 1 college advisor w. 1 or 2 high school students and set out on the path to make the part(s) and assembly. and that, in my oppinion, is one of the greatest things to be involved in as a college student mentor. working w. them is the best part of my job as a college mentor. they make it fun, exciting, and an awesome experience. not only do i help them learn and show them new things but they show me new things and help me learn.

all in all, the students on this team are totoally awesome and they work incredibly hard. they put in their time and efforts and they benefit from it all. u get out as much as you put in and I can honestly say that each and everyone of our students as well as college advisors have put in a lot of time and effort and we all learn, grow, and work as a team.

sorry about the length.........

yangotang
02-09-2003, 12:40 AM
Our adults purposely don't do anything on our team in order to make us do the hard labor. We've got a couple adults on the team who do nothing but criticize *L*... but NASA wasn't good enough to give us any engineers... Oh wait, nevermind, they're out helping bellarmine because bellarmine's paying them, practically. I think it's unfair, but what can i do?

cbernich
02-09-2003, 01:29 AM
I agree with wayne, If the Students do not get to build the robot themselves wheres the fun in that? Not to mention the sense of accomplishment. When my team looks back on our building period we can say wow, look at what we have designed and created practically from nothing and look at what it can do, without that feeling I doubt the competitions would be as fun for us. It is one thing to have engineers helping out in the backround, but to have them build it themselves and then handing it to a team to play is ridiculous. Without the hands on experience what have you gained as a person from the program?

D.J. Fluck
02-09-2003, 02:59 AM
Yes, students need to build the robot, but teacher and engineer guidence is a must. The lesser expierenced students need the most guidence (most of the time) and then as you spend more and more time doing this, less guidence is needed. Your engineers are kind of like the instruction manual for building the robot. If you build without instructions the product will come out incorrectly most of the time, but with the instructions it will help guide a path to success.

tatsak42
02-09-2003, 03:43 AM
We design (and when we get stuck, get the engineers' help), then when we have a design, we run it by the engineers, who usually question us on what we're doing, and usually also come up with improvements (but almost never drastic redesigns). They usually just ask questions and we realize why some of it could be sketchy and stuff. And then we fabricate it all. and then fix what we messed up.

evulish
02-09-2003, 10:58 AM
Originally posted by John Bono
That's gotta suck. Why even bother making a bot if you don't learn anything?

I've been arriving late or skipping meetings. It sucks...bad.

Not2B
02-09-2003, 09:30 PM
Engineer ringing in for Team Lightning - 862.

I see good things in both sides of the equation. Those team with huge student design and build responsiblities will most likely get more hands on work, get a feeling of ownership in the robot, get to try things out and learn by trial and error which is better than being told what is right. ON the OTHER hand, those student's who get to watch good engineers work get to see how much hard work, hard thinking, detail work goes into something like a robot, and they get to learn good engineering practices (assuming the engineers take the time to explain stuff, which I assume most of these engineers do.) With that said...

Team 862 uses an engineer to machine alot of the metals because the machine shop has safety concerns. But he's not a professional so it looks like it's student machined. :) But almost all of the robot is student designed, layed out, put together, tested, rebuild, tested, rebuilt, tested, and and the program and controls are 100% student done. Me and the other engineer spend most of the time making sure the students don't hurt themselves, buying pizza, and helping with "design issues".

I like both styles of robots, both are good. (Now my students are going to tell me I need to get an engineering team together next year so they can have a WINNING robot, instead of Ziff2.0) (JUST KIDDING GUYS!)

Trashed20
02-09-2003, 10:14 PM
hehe, yeah. This year we couldn't keep our mentor team and kept too many of the students..... oh well.

(p.s. our robot now moves :D )

jburstein
02-09-2003, 10:21 PM
Engineers? What engineers. On our team the only things done by an adult is the welding of our frame because it has to be very precise and with the amount of aluminum tube involved a screw-up would be very expensive. All the other fabrication is done by students. The design is done by students, although individual students will go and seek ideas or other help from adults (not necessarily engineers). There usually isn't an adult present during our build sessions- senior team members have access to our build area, so we don't even need anyone to let us in.

I believe that engineers should essentially be resources whome students can ask for help. The whole process of building a robot should be a student led/run project. I don't think engineers should do more than correct errors unless their help is requested.

The difference between the students on my team and someone on a team where the engineers do the building is huge. At the competition my team are all in the pit fooling around with our robot, while the students from certain Ford Teams are hard at work on the demanding task of handing out buttons.

What i'm trying to say is that the difference between the two is the difference between having something taught to you, and learning it yourself. Someone who watched an engineer build a robot would probably not be able to apply a whole lot of that learning to the next year's robot.

What really makes me mad (and what has caused me to write a friggin book for a post) is that we lose to robots built by engineers. We choose to build our own robot because that's the way to learn, and in return we get flogged by a robot that is driven by a student who hadn't touched the thing until it was completed. Seems ridiculous to me.... oh well at least I know that i could do a better job fixing their robot than they could.

BBFIRSTCHICK
02-09-2003, 10:29 PM
Team 1077's bot is being built by 10 kids...... and our Engineers whenever we need their help. We have never really had a problem in which we were not allowed to work on the robot. Our Engineers encourage that we do as much of the work as we possibly can. This is the most work that the students have done in years. We are building the whole bot by ourselves. Yet at the same time all our team has been participating in FIRST for more then 3 years, so we are all relatively experienced. We only have 1 Sophomore on the team. The rest of us our Seniors and Juniors. All our Engineers participated together in FIRST during High School, so they know how it is to be in our position. You can't ask for a better group of people to work with!

OneAngryDaisy
02-09-2003, 10:43 PM
Originally posted by JosephM
Sparky is designed, built, programed, and tested by students. Sure, you don't win or get the Chairmans, but you learn. :)


What exactly do you mean with that "Chairmans" quip?

Parks
02-09-2003, 11:02 PM
Our school is really tight on legal stuff so we have a staff member 'supervising' is at all times. They are there for liability reasons and that is it. They know little about robots - we do everything ourselves. If you asked anyone but a student anything about the robot they would have no clue. Our team is completely student run and the mentors are there because they have to be say the rules.
We do get help from a retired electrical engineer and the father of one of our team members.
Even if our robot is junk, which it certainly isn't, I would rather have built it than just have a beatiful bot that I hadn't touched. I really think that FIRST should look into this closely and ensure that students are extracting all the experience they can out of the competition, and are not just learning how to watch and keep their mouths shut.

dlavery
02-10-2003, 12:40 AM
Originally posted by yangotang
We've got a couple adults on the team who do nothing but criticize *L*... but NASA wasn't good enough to give us any engineers... Oh wait, nevermind, they're out helping bellarmine because bellarmine's paying them, practically. I think it's unfair, but what can i do?

To quote Abraham Lincoln: "Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

You don't know what you are talking about. Your remarks are insulting, ignorant, inappropriate, and flat out wrong. Before you speak up again, please take the trouble to actually become educated and informed.

-dave

------------------------------

Y + AX^2 + B.... ehhh, whatever

Cory
02-10-2003, 12:45 AM
Originally posted by yangotang
Our adults purposely don't do anything on our team in order to make us do the hard labor. We've got a couple adults on the team who do nothing but criticize *L*... but NASA wasn't good enough to give us any engineers... Oh wait, nevermind, they're out helping bellarmine because bellarmine's paying them, practically. I think it's unfair, but what can i do?

umm yeah... that was really rude. NASA is Bellarmines sponsor. Im bot sure, but I think they have been since they were rookies. They are not paying them. We were sponsore by NASA until two years ago, when they cut mucho funding. You could have NASA as a sponsor too, dont bash people and follow the grant process. Also, im not sure, but I think NASA just gives the poofs Machine shop access, and field space. I don't think they actually give them any funds, but I may be wrong.

P.S. Dave: thats one of my favorite quotes hehehe:D

Cory

Matchew
02-10-2003, 12:54 PM
My team is a very new team to first we have 7 member and one engineer. I know that some teams a lot of people have to travel to get there but that really isn't a valid excuse. I that the Delphi teams may know how everything works on their robot but there is a certain level of hard work and dedication that goes in to the robot and if you don't know how to build it or you don't build it you don't realize this to the fullest. I out over one hindered 200 hours in the shop milling and welding and most everyone on our team knows how you weld make mechanical drawings use the mill and other metal working tools. When I hear about these teams that "work with" the engineers i would like to invite them to one our team meetings and find out just how much they know.:ahh:

George
02-10-2003, 01:50 PM
Mr John Bono, Team 990
I am disappointed that the Vegas teams did not take up the
Offer of help I made in Dec,02 maybe you should talk to Eli Reilly
I feel Gracious Professionalism is lacking in your posts.
If you do not want help that is offered, DON'T COMPLAIN!
Please look me up in Phoenix or LA
Geo.

Chris I
02-11-2003, 07:04 PM
Originally posted by dlavery
To quote Abraham Lincoln: "Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

You don't know what you are talking about. Your remarks are insulting, ignorant, inappropriate, and flat out wrong. Before you speak up again, please take the trouble to actually become educated and informed.

-dave

------------------------------

Y + AX^2 + B.... ehhh, whatever


Mr. Lavery: Thank you for your support.

yangotang: After reading your post, our engineer Steve was surprised to hear he was supposed to be paid all this time and that ALL NASA-Ames engineers were working with our team. Now he's upset because he's never seen these "other" engineers--they never show up. He is also wondering when he'll receive his first paycheck in the mail.

Our team is having a Pre-Shipping Practice session and scrimmage this Sunday, February 16th. Your team, as well as every team in Northern California, is invited to attend and right now, it looks like 12-14 teams are participating. We hope that opening up our facility helps everybody to have a better season.

BTW, a month ago we e-mailed every team in Northern California that our facility has been open for use. For the past 3 weeks, we have had numerous teams at our lab two days a week. We hope it has been helpful to those teams, and please know that your team is always welcome to use our facility.

If you are able to make it, our engineer requests you to bring his back paychecks AND the NASA engineers that you know of that were supposed to be working with us. We would greatly appreciate their support. =)

If you would like to know anything about our team, please feel free to come up some time. We would be happy to give you a tour.

yangotang
02-11-2003, 11:16 PM
i'm sorry if i offended anyone in the posts before. i was just frustrated at the fact that our partnership with nasa is almost nonexistent.

If we could have some true engineers, i'd be very happy. Currently, i'm just angry that i can't get this darn programming thing working. I hope i will never offend you guys again.

John Bono
02-12-2003, 06:02 PM
1) Try making an offer to someone who has sway, not the kid who got banished from the pit area to the scouting for his annoyingness. And I have no problem with someone living in a machine shop--that just allows for nifty stuff to be made more easily. We don't really need any machine shop work this year (although it would've been slightly useful a couple weeks ago), and there's really no one with time to deal with a machine shop. We have 1 advisor and 1 other mentor. We have about seven whole members on our team, and otherwise, I really don't know why we're not getting any help from a machine shop. I'll have to ask the boss about that. True, I by no means normally show gracious proffessionalism, especially when confronted with an opposing philosophy to my own. I think it inflates a child's ego when you make a really nice, expensive toy, then tell them to go play with it. There are many students out there that would be very happy to do EVERYTHING on a robot at any High School I could imagine--it might just take a little longer for them to learn how at some vs. others. Anyway--with the kid metaphor: how many people have you seen become a better person by being told how their new expensive toy works? This is not a mecha anime--you don't have to give the super expensive robot to some random kid who thinks it's cool.
It just eats me up inside to walk around the pits, watching more adults work than students. While the mentors go through the motions that they've been through a dozen times, the kids sit on the sidelines and play a game of Magic (not that I dislike Magic: the Gathering--I just think there's something more pressing going on at the time). I'm going to wager that someone learns a lot more holding the drill than watching someone else wield it. We (the students) aren't supposed to learn what designing a robot is, they're supposed to learn how to design it themselves, not sit on the sidelines and be "inspired."

...Ah, I love arguing...

George
02-12-2003, 06:16 PM
Sorry John, That was the Only contact your web site gave!
AS for "No time" the time you took to wright this last post was
more then long enough you only get what you put in,
this includes annoying kids (there are no "bad" privates)
Geo.

John Bono
02-12-2003, 06:40 PM
Ah, but you see, I am a lowly student who was weary from a day of getting aluminum shavings stuck in every orifice of clothing and body--again, I have no sway, and um... make what you just said more coherent. Really, aren't you a teacher? What kind of example are you setting?

MisterX
02-12-2003, 07:04 PM
Actually our robot has yet to be built except for the chasis. This year the teacher came up with the brilliant idea of putting the freshmen in charge of building and designing so they could learn more. Wait a minute, shouldn't people already know more then just how to change their underwear (even thought I doubt most of them even do know how) before they take on the construction of a robot? Oh well, just don't be surprised if when you are walking around the pits and see a half built robot.

P.S. hope we arn't ur aliance partner!

srjjs
02-13-2003, 12:11 AM
Sorry about my teammate's behavior. Most of our team is not that way. Yangotang is just prone to outbursts of anger at times.

He is right about our robot being student built though. I think the most any adult has done is cut about 1cm off some bolts that were too long.

George
02-13-2003, 10:45 AM
Originally posted by John Bono
Ah, but you see, I am a lowly student who was weary from a day of getting aluminum shavings stuck in every orifice of clothing and body--again, I have no sway, and um... make what you just said more coherent. Really, aren't you a teacher? What kind of example are you setting?

John, Sorry if you mistook my "annoying" remark wrong,
(See your post "1)" )
And no I am a teacher, as for being coherent, Sorry, I reply
as I have time,
Remember I work 10-12 Hr a day,
Then put in 4-6 Hr for the team 5 days a week sat & sun
(if I don't have to work Too!) is 16-18 HR........For 6 weeks!
I have been eating Alum. & Steel for 35 YR day in/day out.
If i did't feel you were worth it I would't use my breaks to
reply,
Are you going to Phoenix? LA?
I would like to meet you, buy ya Lunch?
Geo.

Ken Leung
02-13-2003, 11:11 AM
John,

Can anyone honestly say they know 100% about teams other than their own? I don't believe so. So before you know take up the courage and talk to the teams, you should not make such a quick judgment about them and how much their students learn. Until then, don't just go to the computer, come into this forum and post whatever you choose to believe about those teams.

In a lot of area, they are lucky to have a FIRST team. There are many reasons that could explain that... Can you honestly say the students aren't inspired as much as you and your team did?

Teams have different policy on how much their student learn because of many different reasons. Can you honestly say EVERY team should have the students do 100% of the work on the robot? Comparing a team with 100% student and no robot at the competition, and a team with engineers building the robot with the students, I would say the latter team's student got more out of the experience than the other one.

And how do you know the students werenít involved in designing the robot, and constructing the parts in the machine shop along with the engineer/mentor? There are many many ways for a person to get inspired about science and engineering... Working in the pit is just one of them. One other really popular method is to go around the pit area, and actually MEET other teams and TALK to them, and share the experience, and build up a network with others in the program and learn from them. Have you given that a try?

Dean say that FIRST isn't about education... I don't exactly agree with that statement, but at the same time I believe that inspiration and exposure are the more important aspect in FIRST. You can learn many things by doing FIRST, but the more important result is that it inspire you to stay on the path of science and technology. When compare to years of experience of working with companies and even the 8 years total of undergrad and grad school, FIRST is only the first step that open the eyes of students and reveal them the path they will take.

You don't have to acknowledge the effort and energy those engineers and mentor put into the team... Just don't reject and undermine them, and out rightly say it's wrong.

And besides, why do you have only 1 advisor and 1 mentor on your team? What happen to the 10 month in the year for you to raise fund, and find more support? It is the team's responsibility to keep their program sustainable, as well as improve every year.

I really hope you make use of your time at competition and learn something from it.

And to yangotang, I repeat the same thing about not having enough engineers and mentors on the team. I happen to know three of the adults on Aragon Robotics, and they are some of the best people I've ever seen, and are involved in a lot more than just building a robot for 6 weeks. I hope you appeciate the fact that they are on your team helping instead of "being paid to work with bellarmine"

George
02-13-2003, 11:22 AM
[SIZE=3]WELL SAID!

A. Snodgrass
02-13-2003, 04:09 PM
Ken and Dave, very well said!

I would just like to say a couple of things:
1)Isnt the point of FIRST to inspire and encourage students to look into and explore engineering?
Without exposing students to engineering what is to encourage them to go into it. However it is done is inmaterial behind the point that if students are at least exposed to the field and what it entails they are much more likely to go into it.
My old teams first year we got off to a late start, and only those students who REALLY thought it would be fun joined me. The engineers and the students worked side by side in order to finish on time. One of those students had been the biggest slacker in the school. He saw no point to his classes and even though he was very bright, he didnt see why he should pay attention and study. After FIRST, not only did he finally see a point to his classes but he finally figured out what he really wanted to do with his life. He is in college now studying Mechanical Engineering.
2) Just something to think about. if you make an argument and dont show respect a) for yourself and b) for the other side of the argument, how do you ever expect to convince somebody that your side of the argument is right. You could have the best point in the world, but if you deliver it in such at way that people are offended or are put off by your words, then that point is lost, because nobody listens. My feeling about gracious professionalism is akin to sportsmanship and a few other things. If you start practicing gracious professionalism early, then you become more effective when you start in the workplace. You are more likely to be able to affect change. We all have times when we have somebody disagree with our beliefs. Its how we react which determines if we can affect change on that person. Sometimes we can help somebody who believes the other side to get a new perspective on the issue and vice versa. And from that both people grow.

George
02-13-2003, 04:40 PM
One of the BEST parts of first is meeting new people and
watching them grow.
Well Said, Again!

Mark Hamilton
02-13-2003, 10:06 PM
We work togethor with our engineers to build our bot. Admittedly a lot of the base components are made/welded by professional machinist. This is done more for practical reasons then anything else, our access to Motorola's machine shops is limited because they are so busy (especially with recent layoffs). The engineers do try their hardest to involves students, and they involve us a lot in the design process. When it comes to assembly, ussually students and engineers work side by side. It'd be cool to build a robot all by ourselves, but we'd miss out on so much more if we did that. I'd rather have a chance to work with real engineers and learn about engineering, not machining. this is my fourth year in robotics, and im confident I could put togethor a halfway decent robot without the engineers help, but I wouldn't learn anything of real value in the process. I personally had a big impact on the design of this year's robot, but my idea had some major flaws. An engineer took what I came up with and showed us how to make it work. I'm certain I could take this years robot apart, and put it back togethor again, and explain to you why and how everything in it works. So I guess our approach is working.

Gadget470
02-13-2003, 10:31 PM
I don't think a consensus on this matter will ever be reached.

Teams that are student built say "Student Built, Student Pride, Student Inspired, Student Performed"
Engineer built teams say "It doesn't matter who builds, they love winning, Student Inspired, Student Performed"

I see very little variations of the above, unless there are rule changes (which there won't be, too hard to govern) there will never be a consensus on the matter.

Ken Leung
02-13-2003, 10:44 PM
Originally posted by Gadget470
I don't think a consensus on this matter will ever be reached.

Teams that are student built say "Student Built, Student Pride, Student Inspired, Student Performed"
Engineer built teams say "It doesn't matter who builds, they love winning, Student Inspired, Student Performed"

I see very little variations of the above, unless there are rule changes (which there won't be, too hard to govern) there will never be a consensus on the matter.


That's ok though. As long as every team is taking advantage of this competition to do something worth while, and made a positive difference on their student's life, then FIRST definitely did their job right.

Take a look at this thread by M. Krass about success of FIRST: http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=15040


Its ok to have your own opinion for these sort of things, just don't tell others with a different opinion they are wrong without getting to know them and understand their point of view.

John Bono
02-13-2003, 10:46 PM
Ken:
Your point is well said. Unfortunately, no one is interested. We try, we fail. There is literally one teacher at our school that's interested. Not even the Fat Man (technology teacher) wants to work on it. It's just the way it is, I suppose. And no, we haven't really tried building a network. Every person available is either working on the robot or the one guy out scouting. That's about it. We can only afford to send 10 people to regionals, and even then we probably will only get 7 again this year. I suppose we should try, although I only get to be a mentor next year--and it might not be here in Vegas, if I'm lucky.
Shawn: Ha! And take me away from work. I'd like to see someone pull that over on my physics teacher. I couldn't even slip out for half an hour of Magic last year. Although I suppose we could GO eat somewhere--both of our teams. Again, make the offer to the boss (Mr. Johnson). If you need an email for him, I'll give it to you. I do indeed enjoy arguing with you, and would like to more. What I'd like even more is to hold this conversation with one of your students, there don't seem to be that many here from your team.
Oh yeah, and I got an answer on the machine shop thing--I just can't remember what it was.

Shawn60
02-13-2003, 11:16 PM
Bono

Most of our students don't worry about it too much. They like what we do and aren't too worried about all the political garbage. They just worry about making our team better than it was in the past.

I have a theory. It is only mine so take it for what it is worth. I have seen it both ways. This is my second team to be an adviser for.

Why can't some teams get enough adult help? Why do they have a ton of dedicated engineers/teachers/machinists? I know why we do and why I did at my last team. It is because we do not DEMAND that the robot be 100% student built.

With team 60 we work with the machinists and teachers on our team as PARTNERS. We give up some of the control to learn from some 50+ years of "real life" engineering/machining experience. We allow the adults to have fun, to be challenged, to feel frustrated, sad, happy, angry, and every other feeling that goes into building a FIRST robot. We ALLOW the adults to have as much fun as the students. Not too many adults want to give up their free time to sit and watch students "play". They want to "play" also.

When my students (at my previous team) and I were able to let go of some of the control we were able to attract more adults (engineers, machinists, teachers, and parents) to the team. Everyone wants to feel needed for their expertise and not their "baby sitting skills". We all want to feel that we are valued, important, and we wan to have fun. I think that when you let the adults have fun you will attract more adults than you know what to do with.

If you let go... they will come.

This leads to the next problem. Where is the balance between the adults having too much fun and taking away from the students? That is the topic for another thread.

Ahh...Now I feel better.

See ya at the competitions

Shawn

p.s. You can take others only as far as you have gone yourself.

My job as team adviser is to find people who are smarter, more talented, and who have more experience than me to help my team. Then I am wise enough to shut up, to listen, and to learn.

Lord Nerdlinger
02-14-2003, 12:25 AM
I think you are able to tell for the most part really how much student vs. adult involvement there is. Not to say that kids can't come up with alot of really good stuff, but for the most part they can't implement it and make it look professional. Our robot is 100 percent student designed and built, and we're a rookie team, so it works and looks like crap. I've seen some pictures with robots where every part is machined, fits togehter perfectly etc. Maybe with 4 years of practice kids could do that, but I'm pretty sure it takes a professional background to be able to get everything working that well.

FAKrogoth
02-14-2003, 12:55 PM
I can't understand the views of teams that are more concerned with building a robot that works, rather than building experiences and knowledge. I very much feel that building the robot yourself is more important than winning. If your robot kicks arse, more power to you. However, the real goal is to develop an understanding of the process of design, not how the 'bot works. I know that, for approximately 100% of high school students, participating in designing is far more informative than watching someone else design it.

As for who physically cut the parts, it doesn't matter very much. If it's a CNC machine, it should be programmed by the students, but using a drill press to make holes on dots is not an important learning experience, although I prefer the kids to be as involved as possible.


On a side note, we will soon (in about 2.5 hours) have an engineer. John Bono's father will be helping us today. YAY!

the doors
02-14-2003, 01:54 PM
I would just like to voice an opinion that I feel has not been heardÖI feel that some of the teams who do not have much student involvement in the actual manufacturing aspect of the FIRST program are potentially short-changing their students. While FIRST is an incredible opportunity for students who desire to become engineers, it is also a great resource for those students who are planning on have a more technical career. I feel that I have learned an incredible amount of information through the more technical and manufacturing aspects of my team, and I am considering a more technologically oriented career. Granted, not everyone can be working with tools and not everyone has the desire, but had the opportunity never been available to me I would not have learned nearly as much as I have.

Collin Fultz
02-14-2003, 02:57 PM
we are all forgetting that first isn't just about robots...it's about problem solving. building a robot is the six week frenzy part of first. the rest of the year is where the publicity, the community involvement, and the expansion of FIRST into more schools (the REAL meaning of first) really happens. who is to say that the person who spends 52 weeks a year working on publicity is any less of a value to a team than a person who works for six weeks to build a robot.

BandChick
02-14-2003, 03:11 PM
As far as robot building goes, I am quite proud to say that Hightstown built their robot completely on their own. ok, we had a little help from Matt Palmere, the co-owner of Speco Marble & Tile, and one of our student's fathers. We have also received some help from Team 25 (our mentors), but mostly our ideas were strictly our own. Considering we are a rookie team, I think we have a great robot to compete with! ^.^ Good Luck to everyone in their upcoming regionals, and look out for a student built bot to trample those engineered ones ~.^ just kidding!

ChrisH
02-14-2003, 03:47 PM
Originally posted by FAKrogoth
However, the real goal is to develop an understanding of the process of design, not how the 'bot works.

You almost got it, but not quite. The real goal is for students to understand the process of engineering, which is somewhat larger than the process of design. Design is only one aspect.

If you look at most team organizations you will see a list of functions something like this:

Administration
Marketing (to other teams)
Capital Development (fund raising)
Product Development (design)
Product Delivery (fabrication)

Those functions are present in some form in every successful business. If you take one of them away, the whole thing falls apart.

In the same way there is a structure to the engineering process. As a team, the BeachBots follow that structure rigorously. It goes something like this :

-Decide how to accomplish the task (how do you play the game?)
-Develop requirements for accomplishing the task (how fast do you have to move to play effectively?)
-Decide how to meet requirements (what motor do I use to lift 7 boxes 1 ft in 1 sec?)
-Figure out how to make it work (design, the more detailed the better)
-Build it
-Test it (determine if you meet requirements, BTW if you meet requirements, you win, no matter your competition score)
-Deliver it (show up at a competition)
-Evaluate performance (Figure out where we screwed up both technically and organizationally. Note: the later is more important)
-Research and Development (correct techncal issues for next time)
-Repeat (Next year already?)

This process is not something that people naturally follow. But it is the key to a sustained successful engineering enterprise. We have engineers from four top aerospace firms (well it was 4, one just bought one of the other 3). You know what, we all do business the same way, in spite of being in very different markets.

To truly understand the process, you must DO it. A really good FIRST team will model a good engineering business. That is the point, to give you guys a taste of what it is like in the "real world" of engineering. To be good at it, you need practice. That is what your adult mentors can provide. On our team, the mentors have collectively been through this process hundreds of times, we understand it and we use it, because it works.

But having had the chance to observe up close a "students do it all" team, this process is exactly what is missing. It's not the students fault, they've never done it so how could they be expected to do it well? Yes they've tried to follow the steps, but you can tell it is not as easy as breathing for them. For those of us who have been doing it for twenty years it is.

In many ways FIRST is just another program like so many I've worked. But it IS more fun than most.

BTW collin234, if the person who works 52 weeks a year on publicity causes a new team to get started or gets you a new major sponsor, they are of infintely more value than any 6 week machining genius. Pretty strong words from an engineer!

FAKrogoth
02-14-2003, 09:33 PM
Very well said. What is necessary is not more students, or more engineers, but a balance. Each team should have at least one, preferably two, engineers but probably won't need more than about four, or they can gang together and lose the learning aspect. I certainly wish that we had someone knowledgeable to give us advice . . .

Martin
02-14-2003, 11:24 PM
Im sorry, but alot of people believe that engeneers are necessary to build a good robot...well last year as rookies with 2 teachers and 8 students we seeded 3rd int eh toronto regional...same this year, we jsut have a few more students, most of them being juniors and not knowing what they are doing...our belief thruout is that theres no limits on our ideas...and once we have thsoe figured out, there is absolutley no problem in making it, because its a collective effort...even though we still dont have the robot finished....and there are only a few days to go, we will get it done, it will run, and it will do well.
I stand by my belief that there is no greater learnin experience than putting your hands on something...