Re: It is about the robots (OpEd)
As several people have mentioned, I think one of the best parts of FIRST is how FIRST can cover so much ground and not be the worst for it. Chairman's or Championship, whatever you choose, there is a great community and great organization there for you. Both would inarguably be great accomplishments. FIRST brings the often very different people who find each of those goals most important together. It isn't just For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, its also For Inspiration and Recognition of Community Service and Selfless People (FIRCSSP? I need to work on that a bit more...)
As for purchasing, I think the rules are excellent as they are now. In fact, I would remove some restrictions on components (like pneumatics and motors). The reason buying components is fine and still provides opportunity for students to do stuff is because of two rules in FIRST 1) The low cap on spending, and 2) the restriction on buying goods that are not available to any team. Combined, they make it impossible to find a component that can make up a significant part of your robot. Unless FIRST robots start being mass produced, there is no way 3500 will buy any major part. Either the part is too specific to FIRST and costs a lot, or its too general and then you need to add work to make it functional (Andy's gearbox has got to cost more than a DeWalt transmission, but it will be a lot easier to drop in and use.) Because we all compete with these same rules and because many teams reach their budget cap, or would if they acutally had the need to, the rest of the competition is left up to the work put into robots.
Consider this: What is a conservative estimate for the time that goes into a robot (Don't forget all the time you spend outside of your designated build hours)? 8 hours/week * 10 people * 6 weeks = 480 hours. Assuming these people would be averaging a meager $8/hour and that a rough estimate for a non manufacturing job is that it costs a company twice the employee's wages to employ him/her. That comes to 480 * 8 * 2 or 7680, or more than twice the allowed maximum spent a robot. What I'm trying to say is that you can't realistically purchase a significant part of your robot.
Last edited by Max Lobovsky : 08-06-2004 at 10:02 AM.