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  #31   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 03-21-2005, 01:24 AM
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Re: engineer bots

All the points made about inspiration and assistance from mentors being important are certainly true.

However, having been a student and college mentor with three different teams with varying degrees of mentor involvement vs. student involvement when it comes to designing and building the robot, I've noticed that students learn the most when they are ones doing the designing and building. On team 53, the students are the ones coming up with designs, building the robot, doing the programming, and performing the administrative tasks. Of course there are parents and mentors for guidance and suggestions, but really the students are the ones getting it done, and it's really impressive. They have learned some of the basic fundamentals of engineering design, have some machining and technical experience, and most importantly have a realistic sense of the engineering process (i.e. oh my god, it doesn't work, what do I do now?!). These are all extremely helpful skills for college and working.

So if you are a powerhouse team and being inspired and learning about engineering, that's pretty cool. And if you're a small team where your students are doing most of the work but not necessarily winning competitions, you get your due when you head off to college or the workforce with skills that your peers may not have developed and experiences that your peers may not have had.

Either way, FIRST works. You just have to keep the big picture in mind.
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Unread 03-21-2005, 07:58 AM
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Re: engineer bots

These threads always surface at this time of year, as dedicated students see the types of robots and teams they are up against. This discussion has been great in this thread, and I would like to add some brief additions.

1. Many people assume that "great looking 'bots" which perform great are all done by adults. While this does happen in FIRST at times, it is much rarer than you think. Many people have accused our team of doing this over the years, as this thread did. While it is true that we have very involved adults, we also have students design, build, debug, and fix the 'bot right along side of these professionals.

2. There are many college students who are acting as mentors who have had this same opinion of "it's not fair when adults design/build/etc.!!!" It takes them about a year or two of experiencing the uniqueness of FIRST before they realize the benefit of the adult mentors in this program.

Andy B.
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Unread 03-21-2005, 09:54 AM
Steve Yasick Steve Yasick is offline
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Re: engineer bots

Memories.....I do remember when 85 would brag about being 100% student built. We would have problems, the engineers would feel like "what should we do?" and the kids didn't feel like they could compete. Then one day we asked the mentors "Do you build every part of your product? The answer was "No we can't if we want to be competitive". Talk about real world right in your face. Just like the real world is a balancing act so is FIRST robotics.

My best advise is to use your situation to make your team better. Team 85 is about 80% student built. For us that is a good balance. Maybe next year it will be 90% or 40%. Inspiration comes from the kids working with the mentors and from having a competitive robot.


Good luck to all of you.

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Unread 03-21-2005, 10:25 AM
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Re: engineer bots

You'd better be very sure you know these machines were engineer designed and built. Because you could be hurting alot of peoples feelings. So machines that look this good could have been designed by the students and then final designed and engineered by the adults.

You have to watch the term engineer robots.
There are many things that go into a finished product.

1. design of the robots features
2. engineering running numbers for stress, strain, and weight.
3. making the prints for fabrication.
4. making the parts
5. assembly of the robot

If you are a team that does not make prints for fabrication or run calculations and just starts assembly and fabrication your missing the largest part of being an engineer.

Students can do a great job of designing features, making parts, and assembling parts together. But they really need to see the process of making correct ANSI or ISO standard prints. They also need to see the calculations that are run to predict material choice and size. The whole point of taking math classes that extent up to Calculus 5 is to predict and size parts before you make a giant mess. This is a Design Engineer's JOB. You can get a little bit out of making an "as built robot" but not as much as running through all the steps.

These steps are why team 173 Rage can build 2 robots in 6 weeks and include spare parts in the shipping crate. The engineers on rage smooth out the students designs. The students first make an as built machine from old parts to try different ideas". Then the engineers smooth out the design, engineering, and then produce documentation for fabrication. Parts of the machine are fabricated by the students i.e. cnc parts (sprockets, gripper arms,) others are sub'd out to sponsors. In the end students assemble the machine together with the engineers at the high school.
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Unread 03-21-2005, 12:00 PM
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Talking Re: engineer bots

The posts in this thread have meant a lot to me as a student team leader. I've noticed that this year, team 343 has had a LOT more student involvement than in the past. Despite having fewer students on the actual team itself, the level of their involvement was outstanding. So many factors of this years robot were designed, built and improved by Metal-In-Motion students.

A few years ago... I began to ponder across the meaning of FIRST. Did our team really have it? After winning the very first National Engineering Inspiration award I began to look deeper. I asked myself so many questions like "Are our engineers doing too much work on the robot?" (Nobody quickly answered my question with a NO.) "Are the students getting the true value of the educational aspect of FIRST" I analyzed my thoughts and feelings on many different parts of our team. "What did this all mean to me?" "Since I don't want to be an engineer, does that leave me at fault for not letting this experience change my mind?" ABSOLUTELY NOT... The memories of the team will forever be with me... The real life lessons I've gotten will continue to be a part of who I am, and who I'll become. "What is the significance in this post?" It's to understand that the importance of FIRST lies within the hands of the leaders of every team. As we go through life we understand that everyone is different. Therefore, every team has a different approach to designing a machine to perform the tasks we're given. Some teams emphasize the hands on approach of student participation. Other's stand by and watch as the engineers do the work. I've found over the past year that I've answered my own questions. "Absolutely not. The engineers don't do too much work on our robot." I've found that the most important thing is to have a good mixture of both student design and engineering inspiration. (honestly) I truly believe that our engineers have provided us the basis of what this FIRST is all about. That students and engineers can work TOGETHER as a team. I truly believe that students need to be taught how to do something before they participate in a long trial and error runoff. From AutodeskInventor creations to tapping parts... students can value the participation of engineers as long as it's in the right way. But yes... Life is unfair. FIRST is Life. After using the transitive property of algebra applied to simple basics. We understand that sometimes... FIRST can be unfair. But as long as YOU value the educational aspects.. I suppose that's the important thing... It all starts with one!
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Unread 03-21-2005, 01:20 PM
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Al Skierkiewicz Al Skierkiewicz is offline
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay TenBrink
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. Jay
I think this a great analogy. I would prefer to have students working along side me as we learn and master the art of robot electrical together. I learn from students and they learn from me. By our second regional or by nationals, they are able to perform every task needed except some weird problem that may pop up. Some years there is more student involvement and sometimes it goes the other way. Our students free us up so that we can help other teams at the events we attend. Our motto has been "If you come to play, we will assist in any way we can to make that happen." I am sure this is true of any of the teams in question, we are bound to help when we can.

And to add my twist to Ken's "build a man a fire"...Build a student a robot and it will keep him/her busy for a few days in the spring. Teach a student how to build(design, wire, program) a robot and they will stay away from home, use some really strange language and wear funny clothes the whole year long.
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Unread 03-22-2005, 12:09 AM
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Re: engineer bots

Personally, if someone came up to me and said our teams robot was too well made to be made by us, i think it would be a complement. I know for a fact our robot was student made, i watched them make it! The only thing that really wasn't student done was welding some of the major frame components together, and that wasn't because they didn't want to try, but because our adviser didn't feel comfortable with any students or even himself welding the critical parts.

Also, dint think a team with a college student or students means they do all the work. My team mainly used me as a soundboard and another source of suggestions for designs. Design and engineering was a very collaborative processes between the mentors and the students. Any work i did to the robot was being an extra set of hands or doing stuff like helping drill holes or do other small stuff. Biggest single part i did on the whole bot was a 2 axis camera mount that no one had a clue on how to build. So please don't stereotype us college students as primary builders
Ive been dieing to do something in FIRST for about 7 years now, and this is the first chance ive gotten. So for as much thanks from my team for helping them, i thank them twice as much for giving me the chance!
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Unread 03-22-2005, 12:26 AM
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Re: engineer bots

Personally, I don't really care how much student involvement is on another team; it's not my problem to tell other teams how to run.

However on a BCR note:

I am on a team that has about 10 students and 20 mentors. The balance may be pretty heavy, but all of the mentors are supplying inspiration, so it doesn't really matter. All mentors have different styles, so on different projects there are different styles. On design, there is not much student involvement in the actual pysical design, but all students have input on the conceptual design. If a student comes up with an idea, it will be heard; in fact our 6WD kitbot frame was mostly student designed. Actual building is probably 95% or so. Being on the team for my third year, I am noticing progression/inspiration in myself and others during this process. Programming is a bit mentor-heavy, unfortunately, but without them we'd probably have no code. Don't get me wrong, they are definately teaching the students, but some people learn faster than others. The concept for our autonomous (have tetra leaning on back of robot, have arm swing over the top, nudge that back under the center driver goal and then whack the hanging tetra) was from a student.

Overall, I like our balance. But heck, I wouldn't mind being on a 100% student built team. I also wouldn't mind being on a team with high engineer participation. As long as it gets across the message of FIRST, I could care less.

-Daniel
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Unread 03-22-2005, 10:21 AM
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitroxextreme
i agree with both opinions in this discussion

we are a rookie team and had minimal help as well as funding
we worked so hard to get our robot going and then to see it work was awesome

but then to get to the regional and see another rookie team with a machined robot that looked to be built by others

i mean we did good but we were unable to get to nationals and a team that couldn't even control their robot could

thats just where everything in my opinion comes into question
I agree you guys had an amazing robot, but rookie all-star is not all about what you do on the field and this year it was won in the pits. I agree we did not perform that great on the field. We shipped out our robot with minimal driving time which was our rookie mistake. But to say we didn't build it is ubsurd. Team 1676's robot was completly student designed and built. The engineers just guided us along. I think you should rethink posting something like this before you get all the facts.
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Unread 03-23-2005, 07:16 AM
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Re: engineer bots

I myself would have to take a neutral side in this discussion. I have participated in both atmospheres. My first year on team 703 there was a core of about 5 students and 2 mentors that built,wired,programmed,and drove the robot. It was a very tight nit group of individuals that worked together very well. In fact we placed 5th out of 75 teams at the canadian regional last year. Then there was this year when we took in team 902 that had been disbanded by its home school. They had a group of 8 engineers that came with them when they joined our team. At first I felt the same way that most of you feel. I didnt want any engineers telling me how to build our robot, but now i wouldnt have it any other way. Not that the Engineers were the sole designers of our robot, Bill had us helping him design components whenever possible. I along with the rest of our team has developed a great relationship with some of these guys that we were weary about to begin with. Some of them are just like us, Kids in grownups bodies just wanting to have fun (no offense Matt we wouldnt have it any other way). The point i am tring to make is that there are points to both sides of the story and what a team decides is up to them. They both have there strengths along with there weaknesses. But i do know one thing. We started FIRST to achieve a common goal and not only will we leave with more knowledge and wisdom, we will leave as friends and thats what really counts if you ask me. And one final thing i would like to thank all the mentors for teaching me so much. Thanks alot guys.
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Unread 03-23-2005, 08:19 PM
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Re: engineer bots

personally i learned most in the area of teamwork because the mentors STAYED OUT to a large extent. In fact, i think they did a perfect job. They made sure we worked on the stuff we wernt so interested in. They made a few things, stuff that we had no idea about and could have never made (like a nifty design for our passive gripper). We decided to modify it quite a bit later, on our own and it worked out great. There certainly was a balance.
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Unread 03-23-2005, 08:33 PM
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by zooballski
I agree you guys had an amazing robot, but rookie all-star is not all about what you do on the field and this year it was won in the pits. I agree we did not perform that great on the field. We shipped out our robot with minimal driving time which was our rookie mistake. But to say we didn't build it is ubsurd. Team 1676's robot was completly student designed and built. The engineers just guided us along. I think you should rethink posting something like this before you get all the facts.
I think 1676 made a very smart move. For their rookie year, they build their robot based on our 2004's robot because they saw it worked. It wouldn't matter if their robot was 100% engineer built as long as the kids on their team were getting inspired. I can tell you this team more than deserved the Rookie All Star. Go look at the website, their chairmans/rookie all star submission[Holy God its amazing], the character of the students on the team. They are an awesome team. Great job 1676.

-Bharat
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Unread 03-23-2005, 08:35 PM
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Re: engineer bots

When I was on the Fairport team last year, we tried to show the students how to do everything. During the first few weeks we found we had to start all the tasks ourselves (the mentors) until the students could see how it was done. Then one by one we handed the tasks off, stepped in only when someone was stuck, and then only to get things going again.

I found this message I posted last year. I think it sums up my opinion on this matter perfectly:

Quote:
Success!!!

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

tonight was our second last official team meeting. About an hour after we got there I didnt really have anything to do, so I was walking around our different work areas

the sparkies were working on the C programming for auton mode, and experimenting with an old gyro sensor hooked to my oscilloscope

the gearheads were attaching the chainguard to our roller and putting the collection net on, and a group of others were working on the arm assembly

one of the parents was working with a student, attaching a fisherprice motor to our commerical vacuum pump

and a handfull of students were making buttons.

I ran into another mentor, Dr Hensel and he had the same silly grin I had.

We could have both gone home and nobody would have missed us - and there are only 3 of us engineers on the team.

Our students have successfully taken over just about everything.

I ended up spending a half hour helping to make buttons.

I think our mission is accomplished. Everything else that happens after today is frosting on the cake! :^)
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Unread 03-24-2005, 10:44 AM
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Re: engineer bots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Validius
prenote: I'll make cliffs later if enough ppl want them.

This was team 1549's rookie year and though we had some FIRST vets (one was on his 5'th year. he is a college student now) most of us, including myself, were rookies to FIRST. Anyways, moving on...

A little about our team: there is a charter high school at Washtenaw community college that i am in and that is the home of team 1549. Our team consists of high school and college students. The college students are mostly majoring in industrial robotics, fluid power and machining. Most of them are not engineers.

The point?
At GLR this year we saw teams who's bots were obviously totally designed by the engineers. While this is legal i do not think it is with the spirit of FIRST. There were 4 builders (including myself) and 1 programmer who did 70% of the work on team 1549's robot. A few more guys jumped in in the last 2 weeks. Except for our passive gripper and the winch drum everything was designed, made and put together by high school and college students.

Our bot, while very good (when the drive program isn't screwed up and I'm not getting ramming penalties), cant measure up to these superbots.

There is nothing that can really be done so i guess i am just ranting for my own sanity. I just wanted to point out the unfair advantage that many teams have.

Also, i cannot conclude a post about building the bot without thanking the mentors, particularly Kieth and Gary. Without your guidance, passing on the wisdom of past experience and teaching the team how to be a team we could never have gotten this done. Thanks guys!

I once started a thread like this when i was a rookie. Since then i have relized many things about mentors and engineers. You may think that these bots are engineer bots but they are actually student bots. Students dream up the ideas for bots, it is than up to the mentors and engineers to make these dreams a reality. This is why it may look as if these bots are engineer bots but, they are actually a product of experienced students and hard working adult leaders. Don't worry your time will come when you have a "Super Bot" as you call them, which years of competition you gain experience to build a great bot. A great team you may want to look at and speak to are teams 135, 71, 48, 47, 45 and many more. Most teams will be glad to help you become competitive to, JUST ASK FOR HELP!

This is all i have to say, i am not trying to talk down to you, or scould you, just make you rethink your toughts
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