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Unread 07-21-2003, 07:24 PM
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East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest FIRST

Hi All,

I haven't really started a good thread in a while so here goes.

While at IRI in the OMNI hotel lobby, Ashlee Snodgrass, JVN, myself and a few engineers from team 308 became engaged in a conversation about how East coast FIRST, West Coast FIRST and Midwest FIRST, are different from each other, this also includes stuff I talked about with DJ Fluck later the next night. Here are something things I picked up about the conversation.

West Coast FIRST teams are practically family, often for them it does not matter who wins the regional, it just matters that they had fun doing what they love doing, with organizations like the WRRF, SCRRF, and competition such as the OCCRA the entire west coast seems to be one giant family with all teams helping out other teams in need

Midwest FIRST teams are piratically the same way as the West coast teams, but the problem with the mid west is the amount of teams spread over such a large area, its hard to keep close with some of the teams, however this is not the case with the entire Midwest, Organizations like Indiana FIRST are beginning to bring Midwest teams together to a place where they can all talk about things that they need to make there team successful, </Shameless plug> and plus they have got IRI </Shameless Plug>
From what I have heard and seen it seems Midwest teams are very in to trying to invent new ways to do certain tasks and different ways to do things that everybody does all ready i.e Mighty Mouse.

East coast FIRST seems to differ greatly from both West coast and Midwest FIRST. Teams from the East coast seem to have more of a desire to win, they like taking something that they know works and use it every year (the MAJORITY of the teams) a good example is team 173 R.A.G.E they have used the same drive for the past 4-5 years I believe. This is why from what I have witnessed at East coast regionals, the East coast Powerhouse teams try so hard to win.

So... anybody have anything to comment on? This is not meant to single certain teams out or to bash them, this is simply things that I have noticed taking with others and being on a FIRST team for three years.

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Unread 07-21-2003, 07:42 PM
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Wow, Ken L and I were just talking about this last night. Well I guess I can only comment about what I'm pretty familiar with and that's the West Coast teams. I'd say the assessment is pretty right on. There's no denying the fact that there's competitiveness but I don't think it's as aggressive from what I've heard of at other parts of the country. There's something about it over here but we usually seem really "kick-back" about everything in life, and it holds true with robotics.

California being a pretty large state with lots of teams and organizations like WRRF and SCRRF to me seems really disconnected from everyone else, which can be good and bad at times. Less drama, but sometimes boring. There's always lots of camraderie and helping other teams but that seems aparant nation wide. And of course in California you have the mini North and South rivalry which is always fun.

Sidenote: practically, not piratically. Sorry, 6 weeks of being an English major and you develop little pet peeves.
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Unread 07-21-2003, 07:42 PM
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Originally posted by Tytus Gerrish
its hard to post when i have to read an essay first
Then maybe you shouldn't post. Let someone who actually read it reply...

Getting back to the main topic of this thread... Aaron, that description is pretty much in line with my conclusions. Although, another characteristic that I think belongs to Midwest teams moreso than East or West coast teams is the "flashy robot." There seems to be, on average, more anodizing, powder coating, and other decorative features on their robots (and carts for that matter [i.e. Truck Town Thunder ]).

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Unread 07-21-2003, 08:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Gold
Then maybe you shouldn't post. Let someone who actually read it reply...

Getting back to the main topic of this thread... Aaron, that description is pretty much in line with my conclusions. Although, another characteristic that I think belongs to Midwest teams moreso than East or West coast teams is the "flashy robot." There seems to be, on average, more anodizing, powder coating, and other decorative features on their robots (and carts for that matter [i.e. Truck Town Thunder ]).
more of this where?

east coast or west coast.. I'm kinda confused on which one you meant I know our team sometimes cocentrates on making the bot look good than how it performs ( however all we have to show for it are a couple of voted by peers best looking robot awards )

I actually wish there was more comradery down here in florida.. except for a few friends we are all just kinda spread apart and go our merry ways.. there are attempts such as the robot rodeo and the failed seaside squabble to bring together many of the local teams but there just doesn't seem to be enough.. we are on our own little penninsula ( goodness I hope I spelled that right with kristina up on this thread lol ) and there doesn't seem much to go on.

However I heard that a few members of some teams in our area were trying to convince the school board to make it manditory for all broward ( and mayb dade ) schools to have a FIRST team.. that would mean like 8 new teams in the area and would be great florida.

The more the marrier since its hard for many of us to get anywhere except for regionals in orlando or mayb the occasional peach tree ( crosses fingures for next year )

::edit :: also we have a new drive train every year we have competed, never used the same one, sometimes a good and sometimes a bad thing :: edit ::
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Unread 07-21-2003, 08:21 PM
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This seems right on as how I have perceived FIRST over the past 4 years. The West Coast has always seemed to be together... and almos on their own with their sub-organizations. As you migrate east to the midwest, some follows, however... you start to pick up traits of teams who have been around for a while, and are international powerhouses. As for the east coast, right on the head with your statement - many teams have been established for a long time, and using the same drive system for 5+ teams.
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Unread 07-21-2003, 08:44 PM
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I agree with all the statements made so far. It feels sort of lonely out here in California since were all so spread out. we have to drive at least 4 hours in any direction to see a significant number of teams that arent in our area, whereas in the midwest you can drive four hours and be in another state, or close to it. even though California has the most FIRST teams of any state, it seems as if midwest and east teams have more contact between other teams. Dont get me wrong, we have plenty of contact between our local teams, but we just dont get to see many more teams than the ones right where we live. When you talk about the west coast, you generally think of the newer teams, which isnt really true, some of us will be going into our 8th, 9th, or even 10th seasons. When you think of the midwest, you think of the older teams, as with the east. I agree that most of the "powerhouse teams" can be found in the midwest/east. Overall, I just have the opinion that the west coast is more isolated from the midwest/east.

On a sidenote: where does Canada fall into the west/midwest/east classification?

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Unread 07-21-2003, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cory
On a sidenote: where does Canada fall into the west/midwest/east classification?
Technically, they could fall into all three. But, if I'm not mistaken most teams are in the Ontario area. There are 38 in ON, 2 in Quebec, 1 in Newfoundland, and that's it. So a majority of Canada would fall into mid-west, I think.

note: numbers found using the interactive map on usfirst.org
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Unread 07-21-2003, 08:53 PM
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There is a definite increase in concentration of teams in the Midwest. Just look at the metro Detroit area. There are over 30 teams all in a very small area. While California has the most teams, Michigan has more per-capita than any other state. The difference is obvious, when you have 3 teams in one school district, and there can easily be 5 teams within 10 miles of your home.

I would also agree with the tendency of Midwest teams to be more concerned about robot appearance. We don't focus on that to the point of hurting performance, but we like our robots to look as good as they play.

Finally, the Midwest teams seem to form an informal association, too. When you see the same teams at two or three different regionals, you get to know the names well. There's so many teams and events in the Midwest that the teams here tend to stick together, often picking alliance partners from within their ranks. There's no formal organization (yet), but there is a definite grouping of the Midwest teams.
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Unread 07-21-2003, 09:28 PM
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If you have ever seen our machine or ever talked to most of our team members you know we don't fit the typical east coast mold. Those of you who saw us or talked to me at IRI know winning didn't mean much too us and that next year we will have a totally revamped drive system. I do have to agree with the overall synopsis of this thread though.
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Unread 07-21-2003, 09:47 PM
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Well, for the most part, wouldn't you all agree that this West/Midwest/East distinction mirrors what exists in practically every other facet of our culture?

The West is a center of liberal thinking, is laid back, and is otherwise a bit more utopian than most other places. The frontier spirit lives on in people, even today.

The Midwest hasn't ever had time for a free spirit. They're farmers and industrialists at heart. The work hard for their keep, they do things "the right way," and they take immense pride in themselves and their work.

The East, finally, has always been the business center of the country. Business and capitalism thrive on competition. FIRST is a corporate-driven organization that manages to maintain lofty ideals. Still, in the East, I think we see that the fierce competition among corporations trickles down to our teams.
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Unread 07-21-2003, 09:58 PM
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I was thinking that same thing as M. Agreeing with most everything said above, there isn't much left for me to post without repeating what has already been said.

When we travelled all the way out west to the Seattle regional this year, I was able to notice a lot of these differences. I also think that a lot of the teams there noticed our difference being from the East. I think they were able to notice our increased competitiveness and such. We always had people crowding in our pit checking us out -- at the Manchester regional it almost seems as if teams try to check out from a distance -- almost trying not to show TOO much interest. All the western teams were very welcoming and most would love to have us back, whereas there were a few teams I think that did not like our competitiveness and more or less made comments that we should tone it down, or take it easy.

Hmm, this is quite an interesting discussion indeed.
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Unread 07-21-2003, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by M. Krass
Well, for the most part, wouldn't you all agree that this West/Midwest/East distinction mirrors what exists in practically every other facet of our culture?

The West is a center of liberal thinking, is laid back, and is otherwise a bit more utopian than most other places. The frontier spirit lives on in people, even today.

The Midwest hasn't ever had time for a free spirit. They're farmers and industrialists at heart. The work hard for their keep, they do things "the right way," and they take immense pride in themselves and their work.

The East, finally, has always been the business center of the country. Business and capitalism thrive on competition. FIRST is a corporate-driven organization that manages to maintain lofty ideals. Still, in the East, I think we see that the fierce competition among corporations trickles down to our teams.
I tend to agree with this comment, although I come from a fairly isolated area of the East Coast.

To add to this idea, I present my team. The most brethren feelings our team has are toward the two teams in which the original mentors came from, one team we helped mentor, and one team in our general region of Virginia. This is similar to the relations of businesses and their relationship to their parent corporations.

At the same time that there is the stated overall feeling from the different regions of the country (and Canada), I do know there is a small voice from many of the East Coast teams that wishes to fraternize with more teams and for more bonds similar to the West Coast teams.

The problem in creating this atmosphere begins when looking at basic geography and concentration of teams. If you look at the Northeastern US, there is a high concentration of teams. Within this region, I get the feeling there is much more fraternizing between teams (even if competitive fraternizing) when compared to further down the Eastern Sea Board.

My team is from an area where the closest team is 45 minutes drive, the next being 3 hours away. While I know this is a bad excuse with the levels of technology in communication, it is much easier to fraternize and work with teams if you can easily drive part of your team to another team's meeting place. I believe there are many similar situations all along the mid to southern Eastern Sea Board with exceptions to urban and metropolis areas.

The ideal thing would be to of course spawn more teams, and be closer to teams. This, unfortunately, is not readily implemented because of sponsorship situations in the area. For example, the area of Southwest Virginia that 401 is from is basically at maximum capacity when it comes to finding money to fund teams. The teams in the area have no corporate sponsors and fundraise using other methods. At the same time, 5 hours drive southeast and the Robodawgs sponsored by IBM have had funding to spawn several teams, plus mentor and sponsor Lego League teams.

So the question is, how do you replicate the West Coast "utopian" ideal in a region that is far from similar in a geographic and socio-economic standpoint?
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Unread 07-21-2003, 10:42 PM
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Re: East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest FIRST

Quote:
Originally posted by Aaron Lussier
Hi All,

East coast FIRST seems to differ greatly from both West coast and Midwest FIRST. Teams from the East coast seem to have more of a desire to win, they like taking something that they know works and use it every year (the MAJORITY of the teams) a good example is team 173 R.A.G.E they have used the same drive for the past 4-5 years I believe. This is why from what I have witnessed at East coast regionals, the East coast Powerhouse teams try so hard to win.

Post Away.
Aaron-
Wow- I don't know how to take that. And we even gave you dinner!!

Boy have you got that backwards. At least in our regional. True, the teams play to win but who doesn't? I don't know if my guys are one of the "powerhouse teams" you mention but speaking for them I can state that winning is nice but not everything. I know of a few teams that are "win at all cost" oriented and a bit rude about it but isn't that the same in all competitive events?
I do recall seeing drivers of Midwest teams in the past crying at the control station when they lost if that counts for something.

I see no difference in how innovative the regions are. There is nothing wrong with reusing a design that works and improving on it. Teams also learn from each other because many east coast teams actually help one another. The nature of the game tends to have a "convergent evolution" of sorts after a few years. If there is a reuse issue it might also be the artifact of many poorly supported teams with limited resources trying to stay in the program by doing that they know.

What I do see in the east coast teams I didn't see as much of recently in the midwest is an abundance of spirit and enthusiasm. This includes crazy mascots, bands, cheerleaders, Moesticks and noisemakers- glitzy stuff that makes the event raucous and fun. In our regional we cheer for EVERYBODY and try to make outsiders welcome.

Another big difference seen in the Northeast as opposed to other regions is a greater diversity of sponsors. I could only dream of having a Kleiner Perkins, NASA or similar major sponsor core group to help us build teams in the Northeast. So as the result there are a number of smaller groups thrown together and that may lead to a "business pride" and more competitive atmosphere.

More decorative robots in the Midwest- possibly. If the number of racing trailers I saw on the way back from IRI is an indication I think I can see where it is coming from. Looks like the automotive industry influence to me.

To be honest, recently at IRI, I too noticed a difference in the "FIRST culture" comparing home (East) and the Midwest. I was rather uncomfortable about some of the experiences I had. It definitely changed MY view of FIRST for the future. And some of MY observations are diametrically opposite yours. Come out to our regional next March and maybe we can change your mind.

WC
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Unread 07-21-2003, 11:01 PM
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Re: Re: East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest FIRST

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Originally posted by Wayne C.
Come out to our regional next March and maybe we can change your mind.

WC
I'll be sure to make it out there
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Unread 07-22-2003, 01:03 AM
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Re: East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest FIRST

Quote:
Originally posted by Aaron Lussier
piratically
ARRRRRR!!!

Now being serious, I think this division isnt surprising at all. It reflects a lot of differences between the different regions of the county in all other matters. Add to this the fact that as FIRST originated in the North-East, most of the oldest teams are on the East coast. Older teams, imo, are more competitive. When you have been around since the start, there is more pressure to win. Just from my personal experience I can attest to this. As a freshmen, the experience in itself was satisfying. As a senior, with responsibilities to the whole team, I found myself really wanting to win. I think this is natural. As a team develops and establishes a system and routine, more attention is paid to the sport aspect.
Speaking as a member of an East Coast team I'd also like to say that a lot of cooperation goes on away from competition, that you might not have seen. I think in most cases we have struck a balance between the competitive spirit that drives us to improve and cooperation and friendship.
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