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  #16   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 03-20-2005, 07:27 PM
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Matt Reiland Matt Reiland is offline
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay TenBrink
I can certainly understand your frustration but would hope that you would keep a positive attitude. We were also one of those new small teams once with no money and only two mentors. It was tough competing with the “big” teams, but starting off is always tough.

As far as who should be building the robot, I frequently use the analogy of teaching someone to cook.
1) If the students were told to sit outside the kitchen and just watch the cook, the end product would be great to eat, but most students wouldn’t learn much.
2) If the students were sent to the kitchen to experiment freely with no direction, they might have fun for a bit, but the results would not be very good to eat.
3) If the students were right there side by side with the cook in the kitchen learning step by step and getting their hands dirty, the product would be pretty good and the students would have learned how to cook.

Taking this analogy further: Some people learn to cook from their mothers or grandmothers in small kitchens with old equipment. Some learn “on the job” at restaurants, and some study at large institutions. All can be very effective.

So, what does all this mean? Every team’s situation is different and we all need to do the best we can with what we have to work with. Some of the most impressive students I have had the pleasure of meeting through FIRST have been from very small and very frugal teams. These students had been inspired and were inspiring to me.

On our robot I have the students do as much as they personally can and teach them to do more. For some, this means cutting, filing, drilling, and assembling. Others have learned how to use a lathe and milling machine. The same is true for the programming.

On a practical note, if you need help, please ask. Most teams would love to help out in any way they can, during the design/build period or at a competition.

Jay
I 100% agree with Jay, back in 1999 and 2000 we showed up definitely outgunned for the competition but we did our best with what we had and each year tried to do better. Now after being part of the team for 6 years I have seen many a student come and go and you have to work your team based on the level of talent, pride, and skills of the people on the team. Some years we have had students that either wanted to machine or already knew how to and they did their thing, other years none of them showed interest in the build phase but they wanted to assemble it and maintain it at the competition. Each team is different and actually each year is different. Heck this year neither the engineers nor the students made a bunch of the plates for the robot, they were laser cut by our sponsor. Keep in mind that 99.9% of the mentors and engineers don't build robots for a living or anything even close to robots, except for those guys on 217 and 469 . Our whole team is electrical engineers that are learning as much about gearboxes and mechanisms as the students.
Don't get down, use your drive that got you this far to propel your team to the next level. I have to believe that any of the rookie teams that go out and come up with a super duper mechanism that toasts a many year veteran team get some sort of extra satisfaction.

My only word of caution, don't go to the extreme of not looking for any help from mentors just to say you did it yourself, IMHO you WILL be missing one of the biggest parts of FIRST and that is to be working with people out there in the real world. It starts the ball rolling from a networking perspective when you are in college looking for a job or just being more comfortable in an interview after college. It may even tell you that engineering or science is the right path for you or even which discipline. This kind of experience is very valuable for most students and they wouldn't have this kind of access without FIRST.

The level of competition has certainly advanced this year. This is the first year where I can say I didn't see any robots at the regionals that went out 5' and fell apart. Nearly every year in the past you could write off 20% of the teams as being totally non-functional, NO-LONGER.

Congratulations FIRST and all of the students, mentors, and teachers that make it all happen
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Unread 03-20-2005, 08:10 PM
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Not2B
I was just happy as a mentor to have a student who PREFERRED to be on a team like ours, and DIDN'T want to be on a "super team".
I'm sure she's not the only one that would rather do all the work and fail, than do no work and win. It's a great feeling knowing a month ago you were banging your head on a table because you couldn't pickup a vision tetra, but now your robot that you programmed is the 2nd robot to cap a vision tetra in autonomous. I couldn't get that kind of feeling if I knew that a mentor programmed it.


EDIT: I'm not meaning to say that I didn't need a mentor, the programming/electrical mentor was always there for me, but instead of doing the work for me he was acting as a safety net. If I fall into trouble with the code, he would bail me out, tell me what I did wrong, how to fix it, and send me on my way. That's what a true mentor should do.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 08:30 PM
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Re: engineer bots

[/b]What I think?

I agree on both parts. I mean INSPIRATION means different for everyone and their team. Is it okay for someone else building their team robot, NO. Is it fair to the other teams to compete in competitions with no engineers and limited budget and go against teams with super bots. NO. But its OK. Like a previous poster above said "Welcome to the real world" This is true, in life its not fair. I mean our robot is made totally by my team, just regular students, NO OUTSIDE HELP. Our school board and local sponsors are our only means of funding. But again, its OK. Yeah, I wish that our robot got some help from engineers and we had more money. But we have the greatest of times and when our robot hits the field, it realllys shows. I am proud of "Sweet FEEET" and my team.

Don't be discourage and just have fun.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 08:32 PM
KenWittlief KenWittlief is offline
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Re: engineer bots

wow this thread is holding together surprizingly well.

Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a day
but set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life (sorry, couldnt resist :^)

Some things to think about. Ive been an electrical engineer for 21 years now. Ive designed many digital systems, and I have never had to

1. layout a printed circuit board
2. fabricate (etch) a circuit board
3. assemble a circuit board (solder the parts on)
4. assemble a prototype
5. build a test fixture

I should point out, I have worked for several different corporations in my career.

Generally speaking, engineers dont build or fabricate anything. We design things. We get the fun part, coming up with new stuff, detailing how it works, creating the drawings and schematics, then we hand those off to people who specialize in the fabrication, assembly, building.... and they give the prototypes to us for testing

If you have a small team and you build a fairly simple robot, and fabricate and assemble the parts yourself, thats awesome

and if you have access to a state of the art automated machine shop, and you create drawings and put a block of aluminum in a CNC machine, and finished parts are in your 'in basket' the next morning, that is awesome too.

FIRST is not intended to be a crash course in engineering. Its intended to be a peek at the light that beams from the end of the tunnel.

In the end engineering is what happens between your ears, not what you build with your hands, not what a machine spits out.

Somebody has to put the robot together, and you learn alot about physics and mechanics and electronics by doing that, but dont confuse that with engineering. In the real world very few engineers spend any significant time on a lathe, drill press, welder, grinder, PCB pick and place machine, CNC machine, soldering...

in fact, if I spent a lot of time on the factory floor, soldering or machining parts, my manager would be upset "thats not what we pay engineers to do" - hand that off to a machinist or assembly person, and get back to design and development.

something else, it takes 4 or 5 years of college to become an entry level engineer. We cannot teach HS students to be engineers in 6 weeks, even if we do have pre-kickoff meetings. There are so many things that students would never be able to do, if we had to teach them first and then let them do it on their own.

Engineers have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. If your sponsor is a major engineering house, it would be a crime if they were not allowed to work their magic for your team, and let you see some of the high end stuff that is possible.

Last edited by KenWittlief : 03-20-2005 at 08:39 PM.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 08:33 PM
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Re: engineer bots

Engineers are a great resource but I don't think they should be the ones 'on the front lines' building the robot. Sure they can help and offer their expertise, but they shouldn't be the ones making the final decisions. On our team, yah, we have engineers that help and offer their advice, but students make the final decisions.

The ultimate "test" is to watch at a competition. Go into the pits or watch when a robot breaks down and see who immediately works on it. We have seen some teams with adults working on it and fixing it and students sitting back doing nothing and I don't think that teams should operate like that. Our team is one of the FEW that doesn't have an adult as a coach. I think because students are making the final decisions, they don't want to be 'bossed around' by an adult. They would rather listen to a student their own age. I am wondering how everyone else feels about the adults as coaches situation?

Last edited by omutton : 03-20-2005 at 08:36 PM. Reason: spelling
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Unread 03-20-2005, 08:38 PM
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by omutton
I am wondering how everyone else feels about the adults as coaches situation?
This has been discussed in other threads, please search
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Unread 03-20-2005, 08:54 PM
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Re: engineer bots

To me this thread reveals why I always disliked those "popularity thread" that appear every year ("WHo has the best robot" , ect.). Not every team has the resources that other teams do so when they see Uber team X roll out thier super fabricated machine and run circles around every body else and get fawned over every second on Cheifdelphi while these other teams who worked just as hard on their robot struggle year in and year out to just survive often without fanfare or trophies and kindly phrases from FIRST veterans do not make them feel any better.
It would be nice if FIRST had everybody perform on a level playing field but that just isn't going to happen (FIRST just doesn't have the manpower to make sure all teams work within the realms of what is legal). It's like major league baseball. The Yankees have more money than everybody else that allows them to build a virtual all-star team while whole division have a smaller payroll than the team. But did the Yankees do wrong for doing what they do? It's not agianst the rules so it's not wrong.
What I offer to the teams that do not have the resources: keep on keeping on. The rewards await your efforts if you persevere. All we ask is you don't give up.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 09:05 PM
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Re: engineer bots

We used to brag that our robot was 100% student built, but over the years what I've found to be the case is that isn't really what FIRST is looking for in this. The end goal I believe is to get high school students working side by side with industry professionals.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 09:07 PM
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Re: engineer bots

couple things Dean has said in the past at the kickoff meetings:
__________________________________________________ _____________
"In a couple weeks you might start to feel you are involved in a robot building contest. Then you are in serious trouble!"

"The game is not fair. The competition is not fair. Its not meant to be fair."
__________________________________________________ _____________

The competition / game part of this program has never been intended to be a contest to see which highschool or sponsor team can build the best robot. Thats not what we are here for.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 09:14 PM
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanddrag
We used to brag that our robot was 100% student built, but over the years what I've found to be the case is that isn't really what FIRST is looking for in this. The end goal I believe is to get high school students working side by side with industry professionals.
so true, however there must be a balance!
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Unread 03-20-2005, 09:18 PM
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Re: engineer bots

I have been reading through this thread and i finial decided to post.
My team MOE 365 has a very strong mentor support, We are very very very lucky to have mentors and parents support from many different industry's and fields, By having those mentors our students are able to see a glimpse into what kind of careers they might want to go into. Yes we are very lucky to have a great group of support.
Is our robot built by our mentors? NO even though we have a strong engineer base, our bot is designed, built and programed by students. Our mentors work with us to help us learn what we are doing. Our bot has always been student designed engineer refined, that means we design it and then guide us to what can and cant work, With out our great mentors I know that I would have never learned how to work on a drive train or pneumatics system. Working with them has been the best experience of my life.
It was said before that this is not a science fair, that means that kids can work with mentors to help them and that is what happens, they help them.
I do not see any problem with those teams that get help from or build/machine parts of the bot for them, as long as the students learn something. That is what FIRST is all about teaching Kids, about life and some science stuff to.
It is sad that some teams do not have any mentors beyond a parents or a teacher, but just remember that those people are still teaching you a lesion just like everyone else's mentors are.
I am sorry about the wording of this post, This topic was really hard for me to express my feelings in words, So I am going to end it here.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 09:18 PM
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Re: engineer bots

I read a lot about people seeing teams that look like they were build by engineers. Go and talk to them, and you might be surprised by what you find out. Maybe not, but at least then you have better data on who built what then how the robot looks.

Be civil in all things and you will get far.

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Unread 03-20-2005, 09:37 PM
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koko Ed
It would be nice if FIRST had everybody perform on a level playing field but that just isn't going to happen (FIRST just doesn't have the manpower to make sure all teams work within the realms of what is legal). It's like major league baseball. The Yankees have more money than everybody else that allows them to build a virtual all-star team while whole division have a smaller payroll than the team. But did the Yankees do wrong for doing what they do? It's not agianst the rules so it's not wrong.
It does make it all the better when the Red Sox win, though.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 10:02 PM
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Sevcik
It does make it all the better when the Red Sox win, though.
Yeah but technically the Soxs spend just a little less than the Stankees.
But I do enjoy it when they win.
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Unread 03-20-2005, 10:47 PM
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Re: engineer bots

I've only skimmed this thread because there are alot of lengthy posts, and i just want to put my 2 cents in... maybe 3 cents.

I think whoever said it was about the inspiration is 100% correct. FIRST is meant to give a group of kids to work alongside with engineers, not nesecerrily to win. You want to come up with the best solution to the problem, and as in the real world, if you're coming up with a solution, you are pit up against people with more resources than you.

Our team for instance, both years, has had a very good mix of engineering and student support. This year, we lost all of our funding, so we had to work on a considerably smaller budget than we had last year, but we still, I think (we'll find out in 10 days), came up with a very good bot. Our engineers were there to teach us, and at the same time, we taught them. I think that working WITH the engineers is a huge part of the experience. I don't think students doing it all, or engineers doing it all is the answer, you have to be somewhere in the middle. I've learned an amazing ammount of things from my 2 mentors on the team (electrical/programming mentor and programming mentor), and I really have been inspired. And I think thats more what you need to get. A trophy is nice, going to nationals is nice, but in the end, it boils down to what you got out of it, did you get something from it... I know I did, and that to me, is worth getting myself beaten by a team who may have lost sight of that goal, who is just in it for the sake of winning. Because at the end of the day, I know that what we did was a huge accomplishment for a group of kids and engineers in 6 weeks, and I think that everyone should get that satisfaction, instead of focusing on the winning.
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