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  #16   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-27-2004, 02:27 PM
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Matt Leese Matt Leese is offline
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Re: Starting a college team

Quote:
Originally Posted by indieFan
Not to get too far off topic, but I do have one major concern related to this.

For the past several years now, I have read the threads about starting up a new college team. My one question to those of you that want to is the following:

Why do you want to start a new team?

Is it because you love teaching others? Is it because you want to help change the future of society? Or is it because you're going to miss building and designing a robot?

If you answered the last question with a yes, I would highly suggest that you find another way of channeling your energy. Chances are that if you're doing it simply for the love of building and designing, you will end up sacrificing more than you can imagine at this time. Not to mention, you are not being involved in the program (after your HS graduation) for the basic purpose that it was started.

If, on the other hand, you answered yes to either of the first two questions, please respond with the reasons behind your answer(s). I'd be interested to hear them.

indieFan
It was actually a fairly simple decision (in hindsight, it probably should've been more complex). I felt that I had gained a lot from FIRST in high school and I thought that I wanted to both give back to the community and to provide others with the same experience I had. So far it's seemed to work fairly well.

Matt
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  #17   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-27-2004, 02:28 PM
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Beth Sweet Beth Sweet is offline
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Re: Starting a college team

The reason that I'm doing it is very obvious to me. When I heard Dean Kamen speak for the first time, I wasn't involved in FIRST, it didn't really do much for me. Then I got involved. It was the best opportunity of my life. FIRST isn't just about building robots. It's about giving kids a chance. It's about giving kids an opportunity to not only meet friends that they never would have met, but for those who are not jocks and actually do have a tough time fitting in, FIRST is an opportunity to belong. Maybe I won't start the best robotics team in the competition, but if I can help even just one kid to decide what they want to do with their life or even to just give them the chance to fit in, then starting a team will have been worth it. FIRST is not about building a robot, it's about the experience of it all, and I think that every high school student ought to be given that opportunity. I want to help them to get what's made such a difference to me...
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  #18   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-27-2004, 03:43 PM
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Andy Grady Andy Grady is offline
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Re: Starting a college team

I will give my usual quick blurb about being on a college team.

Freshman year is the hardest year of college.

FIRST is an extremely time consuming effort.

If you take the time to do FIRST during school, be careful...you dont want your 4 year Bachelors degree program to all of the sudden turn into a 7 or 8 year program.

Take it from me...you can get alot of value out of becomming a mentor for a college team, and it is worth all the effort. But nothing is worth the loss of lots of money and time because you were burnt out.

Be careful to all the graduating seniors out there, the changeover experience is a great one, but if you have troubles...remember, there is always time for FIRST later.

-Andy Grady
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Unread 04-27-2004, 04:28 PM
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JVN JVN is offline
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Re: Starting a college team

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Grady
Freshman year is the hardest year of college.
Yep,

To be painfully blunt:
If you participate actively on a team during your Freshman year of college you are probably making a tremendous mistake that could potentially haunt you for the rest of your life (ever hear of a thing called GPA... yeah.)

Be warned.

John
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  #20   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-27-2004, 04:55 PM
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mtrawls mtrawls is offline
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Re: Starting a college team

Thanks for all the input in this thread! I don't plan to start a team my Freshman year, only start talking about it and get people (university, high school, etc.) interested in the idea and get some people to go to the VCU regional hopefully ... and then I'll think about starting the team during my second year. Obviously it all depends on how things go, and if I've gotten myself in over my head with just the triple major itself ...

Quote:
Why do you want to start a new team?

Is it because you love teaching others? Is it because you want to help change the future of society? Or is it because you're going to miss building and designing a robot?
This is my third year on my team and I've gotten to know quite a bit, I'm proud to say. As such, this year for me I acted mainly as a "mentor," directing other students to do the work and showing them how (though I did end up doing the programming, but that was due to lack of student interest). It was hard not to pick up something and do it myself, especially when I knew I could have done it quicker/better ... but I reminded myself that I had to learn all these things when I started, and teaching the others how to do it really was a different experience. From what I hear about being a college mentor, I imagine I will like the new role even more. No, it's not because I'm going to miss building and designing a robot (there're other engineering challenges my university offers that I'll explore), but it's because of what FIRST is all about -- because instead of building a robot, I want to learn to build a team, to help other people bulid a robot. I don't know that I can really articulate the reason, but FIRST has affected my life so deeply that I want to give that chance to others. It is such a great program that I want to see it spread. I don't know, maybe I'm crazy ... Well, there's no maybe about it ... but that's another story.
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  #21   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-27-2004, 06:39 PM
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ngreen ngreen is offline
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Re: Starting a college team

My goals right now are to do well in college so I can get a good job in a large corporation and then convince them to sponsor FIRST team. But hey...I somehow I start and mentor a FIRST team in the process it will just be gravy.

If you can jump into a new FIRST team without hurting your future chances of inspiring companies to give money to FIRST. I say do it. But if not. At least wait one year and then look at the question again.
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  #22   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-27-2004, 06:40 PM
TD78 TD78 is offline
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Post Re: Starting a college team

Starting a college team is something that is not only tough, but may take longer than expected.

This is my second year at URI (mechanical engineering). Our freshman year, a few other alumni of 121 and myself mentored our high school team (my GPA did not suffer, but it was definitely a challenge keeping it up ). When three more 121 alumni decided to attend to URI after graduating last year and another came back from Germany (he was there on an internship) for his senior year, we wanted to do something more. So we decided to start a university recognized club.

Our club is a little different in that we officially do not have a FIRST team, but our goals and mission are all FIRST related. Since our inception, we have done several things. We mentored teams 121 and 1350 this year and are currently focused on designing and building a drivetrain built using FIRST parameters. A local high school came to visit URI's engineering department and we showed them 121's robot from two years ago and helped them with a LEGO Mindstorms kit. This week we have a booth at the university's annual block party, and we will have this years robot plus a few segway demonstrations.

The main problems are the obivous: money and resources. We would love to start a team with a local high school. Trouble is we are still a small group and are still educating ourselves on the materials we have acquired on starting a team (the FIRST website is really helpful). Our goal is hopefully within the next few years is to have the foundation set for our own team.

With all that I have been through just to start my club, I can imagine how much work it would be to start a team. My suggestion is to not try your freshman year. I am a sophomore now and I am just starting to learn how my university works. I don't know about other schools, but Student Senate can be your friend. Support from students with connections can be wonderous (especially those on the Finance committee). My school isn't private so it;s very hard to get university funds. I suggest to take your first year and go out of your way to meet people. Talk to professors in the engineering department. See if they will support you (most I have met have already heard about FIRST). I think that by building relations with the university and your peers, and perhaps beginning a FIRST related club with interested people, is a strong place to start.

I congratulate anyone who has started their own teams and I wish good luck to those who start ones in the future.

-Tom
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Last edited by TD78 : 04-27-2004 at 08:08 PM.
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  #23   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-28-2004, 07:36 AM
Kevin Kolodziej's Avatar
Kevin Kolodziej Kevin Kolodziej is offline
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Re: Starting a college team

There are just too many factors to consider when you talk about the difficulty of starting a team your freshman year. Lauren Halatek from Wildstang and I met up at Nationals in 2002 (I saw her sign that said "Help me start a team at MSOE!" She had already done a lot of work during her senior year of contacting people in the Milwaukee area to find support for a future team. Once school started in September, we contacted a whole bunch of high schools (I don't exactly recall if we contacted principles, teachers, or both). We went to those that were interested in the concept of FIRST and gave presentations. Same with the sponsors. Finally we found a fellow student at MSOE who had graduated from South Milwaukee HS, loved the concept of FIRST and did some really persuasive talking over there.

1064 was born that way - two people working together for quite a while, then some luck with a third person. That first year was expected to be rather diorganized because it was about November by the time we finally had a high school on board. With the school being 20 minutes away and only one of the people in the Milwaukee FIRST Support Organization (campus organization that was started by Lauren and myself in September), it was VERY difficult for us to get to the high school to actually meet with everyone before the build season.

There was a lot of miscommunication and misuderstandings between MSOE students, High School teachers, and sponsors, and so it was like starting over for this year. We had more students on the MSOE side, experience on the high school side, a few less sponsors, and a few more dedicated sponsors. We lost our main sponsor and had no more NASA Grant, however, and so the budget for the team was extremely restricted. The beginning of the year started out wonderfully - the high school side of things acted very independantly from MSOE (which is what the MFSO wanted - to set up new teams, show them how things work, and then cut them loose, so to speak, after a year or two, but still be around to help when need be). But the initial rush wore off rather quickly and much reorganization began. Then the student participation dropped to 4 kids and the season became very difficult.

Fortunatley, during this season, we had another high school join in on the build season a couple nights a week. They formed an engineering club at their school on their own, found out about FIRST and found us as their most local team. They helped when they could, attended the Midwest Regional, and are now pumped about a new team next year. THIS is how starting a team become much easier. The student interest is already firmly in place and well organized - all that is left to do is to work with the students to contact sponsors. Exposing people to FIRST for a year first is a much better way of doing it. They know exactly how much time is needed; how much committment, effort, money, and people are needed.

At the college level, its going to be very hard to find interest the first couple of years. of the 2000 students here at MSOE, we have 10 involved in FIRST. Only 3 of them are FIRST veterens. As the group becomes more established and more teams in the area start popping up, more and more FIRST participants are looking at MSOE as a viable college choice. We had an open house this past weekend and I talked to 2 current participants that will be here in a couple years and know of 2 more that will be here next year. DJ was supposed to come this year

From a school perspective - I am the current president of the organization on campus, am involved in several other activities, and still maintain a 3.5 or higher GPA. It did get rough during the build season, but if I cut out all the lazy time I had, there was plenty of time to get everything and still have time to relax. Freshman year wasn't nearly as bad as this year because there was less homework for me Freshman year. I am an architectural engineer, however, and cannot speak for the MEs or the CEs and SEs. Next year I am going to have to reduce my participation quite a bit because of the work load that begins with Junior year...and then Senior year and Masters year will be even worse - but by then, the MFSO will be well established, as will other support groups and teams, which will be able to help form new teams as well to take some load off of the MFSO.

Whew! Got questions? PM, e-mail, IM, call...whatever you like!

Kevin Kolodziej
Milwaukee FIRST Support Organization President (MSOE)
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  #24   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-28-2004, 08:58 AM
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Waynep Waynep is offline
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Re: Starting a college team

I'd be more than happy to share some information with any of you interested in starting a college team. Currently at Columbia University, we've started 4 lego league teams, we'll have at least 7 for the 2004 season. We currently support 4 high school teams, including the 2 that we started. Everything is run by the students as the University offers us little if any support. Feel free to e-mail me at wrp2003@columbia.edu and I'll tell you more.

-Wayne
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