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  #16   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 05-22-2005, 10:31 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

If you want your team to survive, there are many things you could do. Use ChiefDelphi as a resource, I can guarantee you will find many mentors who are willing to help you[Not to forget, past threads. You will find a lot there]. Go find a successful team around your area who is willing to mentor you. Sorry to say, but you might have to start over as a rookie team. You could also sit down with a positive mindset, and create a game plan to make this team survive - I know it's possible, but you're better off getting some help. As Koko Ed said, you could also volunteer at FIRST competitions because FIRST always needs volunteers. I know you're possibly feeling heart broken right now because of the situation at your end, but there is a way, and if you're willing enough, you will find a way out. Good luck and feel free to ask for help.
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Unread 05-22-2005, 10:40 PM
KenWittlief KenWittlief is offline
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCook
I mainly wrote this because I;m graduating and my team is being left with nothing ...

plus another blow our mentor that started the team will be retiring from our school next year and we will have no program.

What i really need is some serious inspiration ...
Ok, if Im understanding this correctly, you had a team in 2001, nothing for 3 years, you put together a team for this year

and now you have 3 seniors graduating and your (only?) adult mentor is retiring?

Is that the situation?

The intention of FIRST is for corporations to team up with highschools and form teams. If your team was able to attend events with no corporate sponsors, no engineers? no professionals other than a HS teacher, then yes - you had a very minimal seat-of-the-pants sort of team this year

and it will be very difficult to sustain a team like that from year to year.

If this is the case, then your school needs to find a corporate sponsor. That is the idea behind FIRST, for HS students to work with engineers and scientist to see what a career in those fields would be like. If you dont have a sponsor, and no engineers, and no technicians..... then I dont know how that is suppose to work, except for the things you can pick up working with other teams in your area.

The burden does not fall on FIRST to find sponsors for each team - they do help match up sponsors looking for schools, and verse visa - but the primary responsibily of matching up sponsors and schools falls on the sponsors and the schools.

The best advice I can give (if Im not off the track and in the woods by now) is:

1. Set up a parent / student group at your school to look for a corporate sponsor.

2. contact FIRST and see if there are corporations in your area looking to start a 'new' team.

If you managed to have a team this year with no sponsorship, my hat is off to you - that is an incredible accomplishment. I think you will find it incredibly difficult to continue in that mode year after year.

You need to connect with a company that can supply funds, facilities, equipment and engineers and scientists - the experience your students will have will be totally different.

EDITED TO ADD: you need to do this now if you want your school to have a team in 2006. Most companys appropriate their community service funds in january, so you are already 5 months behind in that respect. But it is possible to find corporate sponsorship over the summer, and start up again in the fall.

Our team lost its corporate sponsor after the nationals in 1998. One of the parents rallied several other parents, two teachers and a bunch of students to work together to find a new sponsor. We pulled it off, but it was a lot of work. We talked to over 300 potential sponsors, and ended up with two companys, one of which (Gleason) is not only still our primary sponsor (7 years later) but they are also one of the sponsors of the new Rochester (fingerlakes) regional.

maybe something better than you can imagine will come of this - you never know!

Last edited by KenWittlief : 05-22-2005 at 10:56 PM.
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Unread 05-22-2005, 10:59 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCook
What I have meant to say is that Teams with great spirit and commitment are usually cut out of the spotlight. I mainly wrote this because I;m graduating and my team is being left with nothing because this was the first year that we have been back since our start in 2001.

I Don't care if our team gets honors or awards, i just want these kids to have fun, but if the program does not survive then whats the point. I mean the kids were inspired at the wrong time, They came to the comp. and said "why didn't you do this?" and the response I had to give them was we did;t have enough
(time?, money?, manpower?, enthusiasm? commitment?) and because we couldn't get our team to really see the bigger picture they just started to bail on our efforts and the few that were really dedicated to this project, had to face the burden of the work.(Which was about three Seniors)

plus another blow our mentor that started the team will be retiring from our school next year and we will have no program. What i really need is some serious inspiration and some people who think that this is just a joke to realize what they are really doing.
Thanks for your quick feedback.
Chris,
I disagree with the notion that ďteams with great spirit and commitment are usually cut out of the spotlight,Ē but this really isnít the point that youíre trying to put forward in this thread. Youíve put so much energy into your team, and now that youíre leaving along with other people who have been the cornerstones for your team youíre concerned that the team will fall because the other students who are being left the team were apathetic this past year. I can understand the feelings you have, having faced the same situation when I was a graduating senior. Like I said before, this doesnít have to be the case.

If you really want your fellow schoolmates to continue being able to participate in FIRST, I would strongly suggest getting them in contact with people like Cory or myself. Weíre in the area, and weíre very active members of the FIRST community. We can help hook your school and/or your schoolmates up with another team or give them the support they need to continue on with a new faculty member.

Youíve got to try to do what you can to keep your teamís head above the water, but if after youíve given it your all and it still drowns, at least you know you gave it all you could and didnít throw in the towel with some energy left in your tank. I did this with 258. Iím proud of my hard work trying to hold that team together and Iím proud of everything I did as a member of that team, but Iíve moved past it and put it behind me knowing that I did all I could and then some.

Please, Chris, if there are any students who will be at Homestead in 2006 or beyond who would like to participate in FIRST send them my way. Iíll make sure that they end up on a team, and get something out of this wonderful program. Seriously, email or IM/PM me or have them contact me.

-Bill
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Unread 05-22-2005, 11:21 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
and it will be very difficult to sustain a team like that from year to year.

If this is the case, then your school needs to find a corporate sponsor. That is the idea behind FIRST, for HS students to work with engineers and scientist to see what a career in those fields would be like. If you dont have a sponsor, and no engineers, and no technicians..... then I dont know how that is suppose to work, except for the things you can pick up working with other teams in your area.

If you managed to have a team this year with no sponsorship, my hat is off to you - that is an incredible accomplishment. I think you will find it incredibly difficult to continue in that mode year after year.
Very, very true. 675 has been without sponsorship since it's second year. (we're in our fifth) A team without a sponsor is a hard thing to keep going. It takes a lot of time and effort. It will seem like the work never ends.

The best thing to do when you don't have a sponsor is to start looking for alternate means of funding the team. Right now, team 675's biggest money maker is our LAN partys/all nighters. These can start small. We're just moving past using free demos on live cd's towards hosting our own servers for more modern games. The all nighters also gave the team a lot of extra work time during the build session. (something like 90% of the wiring, and 50-70% of the arm got built that night)

It's a struggle, but you definatly feel good about yourself after it's all over.
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Unread 05-22-2005, 11:56 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

I have to somewhat agree.

I think all of us on the average sized teams or smaller teams see that we kind of get overlooked. We're the teams that have been around 3-4 years now and don't need mentoring or anything, yet other teams that either haven't really taken off yet or rookie teams run towards the same teams we had mentor us as rookies. I mean Team MAX loves haveing people ask us for help and stuff, but just going to compeitions with other awsome teams make us feel overlooked because vetran teams seem to hang out with other vetran teams, and rookie teams always seem to go running to those teams to ask for help and stuff.

Those teams in the hall of fame make it seem almost impossible to model our programs after. I think Buzz is the only team close as far as amount of team members that most midsized teams could compare to, but even Buzz has the sponsorship and money behind them to do great things. Most of the teams in FIRST aren't lucky enough to have companies like Xerox, hamilton Sundstand, and Delphi back us up with the money and comitment they give those hall of fame teams. My team was lucky to get 2,500 bucks in sponsors this year, that's it. You really can't compare Team 191 to Team 1071 or Team 175 to Team 1027. All four teams get it done and are regional champions over the years, except you have two teams with money to have fancy gadgets, look great for the visualization award and people to do great stuff in the community for the chairmans award. The other 2 teams aren't the greatest looking robots, have simple design, and bearly have enough kids to build the robot, let alone worry about awards.

I know team 1071 is kind of in a situation where winning is everything to us now. We really don't care about the chairman's award because we pretty much concede we can't win it with our team and the compeition we're up against (our location also dosen't help much for community involvment). This year we knew our website wasn't going to be an award winning site, we didn't have a cool looking robot, we didn't have anything special in our design, so if we didn't win the regional we would have just packed up and beat the Hartford traffic because we knew we didn't get any awards.

Last edited by nobrakes8 : 05-23-2005 at 12:06 AM.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 12:13 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

I haven't read all the posts but in response to the first one, all I can say is FIRST has different meaning to different poeple/groups of people. And to me, that is perfectly acceptable.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 12:21 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory
Have anyone who wants to continue participating join another team. There are multiple teams around the peninsula that will accept anyone from another school who would like to participate. You could probably have a good deal of luck developing a partnership with another team.

Team 100 has had members of four different schools on the team at different points. In 2003 we "merged" with a school that couldn't form a team, and for over a year there have been more members from that school than the original.

There has been talk on the WRRF Forum for the start of a College level FIRST competition, mainly because kids are having a hard time suddenly leaving the FIRST environment. I Don't know that this is legit thread from the chat rooms but i know its been out there.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 12:28 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCook
There has been talk on the WRRF Forum for the start of a College level FIRST competition, mainly because kids are having a hard time suddenly leaving the FIRST environment. I Don't know that this is legit thread from the chat rooms but i know its been out there.
I'm not sure what you mean when you say that kids are having a hard time leaving the FIRST environment. What specifically are you referring to? And why leave if they want to continue?

Sure, you can't actually compete in matches, but you can provide something much more valuable-the inspiration that some students might otherwise miss out on. As a college mentor, you can give back all that you learned during your time on the team, and hopefully help some kids out.

If we didn't have college mentors in FIRST, a lot of teams would be hurting right now.

Where are you planning on going to college? Odds are there's probably a team in the area (Which I'm sure wouldn't mind another experienced mentor) and if there aren't, if there's enough interest you can start a new one, or just volunteer at FIRST events, also another very important position of need.
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Last edited by Cory : 05-23-2005 at 12:30 AM.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 12:29 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nobrakes8
I have to somewhat agree.

I think all of us on the average sized teams or smaller teams see that we kind of get overlooked. We're the teams that have been around 3-4 years now and don't need mentoring or anything, yet other teams that either haven't really taken off yet or rookie teams run towards the same teams we had mentor us as rookies. I mean Team MAX loves haveing people ask us for help and stuff, but just going to compeitions with other awsome teams make us feel overlooked because vetran teams seem to hang out with other vetran teams, and rookie teams always seem to go running to those teams to ask for help and stuff.

Those teams in the hall of fame make it seem almost impossible to model our programs after. I think Buzz is the only team close as far as amount of team members that most midsized teams could compare to, but even Buzz has the sponsorship and money behind them to do great things. Most of the teams in FIRST aren't lucky enough to have companies like Xerox, hamilton Sundstand, and Delphi back us up with the money and comitment they give those hall of fame teams. My team was lucky to get 2,500 bucks in sponsors this year, that's it. You really can't compare Team 191 to Team 1071 or Team 175 to Team 1027. All four teams get it done and are regional champions over the years, except you have two teams with money to have fancy gadgets, look great for the visualization award and people to do great stuff in the community for the chairmans award. The other 2 teams aren't the greatest looking robots, have simple design, and bearly have enough kids to build the robot, let alone worry about awards.

I know team 1071 is kind of in a situation where winning is everything to us now. We really don't care about the chairman's award because we pretty much concede we can't win it with our team and the compeition we're up against (our location also dosen't help much for community involvment). This year we knew our website wasn't going to be an award winning site, we didn't have a cool looking robot, we didn't have anything special in our design, so if we didn't win the regional we would have just packed up and beat the Hartford traffic because we knew we didn't get any awards.
I feel the same way I The only reason we got any money this year, was because a guy had his tire blow-out in front of our school ( Maybe if we get more flat tires or make people get flat tires they would give us money). Before he came along, our team came up with this slogan " YOUR TRASH IS OUR ROBOT" because we rip apart old stuff to build all our robots. Our robot this year was mainly created out of the 40 year old AL water polo goals, which were being thrown out because our school finally got new ones. Other than that we usually look at what we have and decide if we can use it before we buy anything new.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 12:39 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory
I'm not sure what you mean when you say that kids are having a hard time leaving the FIRST environment?

Sure, you can't actually compete in matches, but you can provide something much more valuable-the inspiration that some students might otherwise miss out on. As a college mentor, you can give back all that you learned during your time on the team, and hopefully help some kids out.

If we didn't have college mentors in FIRST, a lot of teams would be hurting right now.

Where are you planning on going to college? Odds are there's probably a team in the area (Which I'm sure wouldn't mind another experienced mentor) and if there aren't, if there's enough interest you can start a new one, or just volunteer at FIRST events, also another very important position of need.

Did you read "when mentors go too far" The reason I started this thread was to combine the "Mentors too far" portion with the changing dynamics of a FIRST robotics team. I Feel that if you graduate, you let the team function on its own and you, yourself enjoy another level of robotics competition, rather than come back with the mindset of '5th' highschool robotics season. Becasue if i had the chance I would still be running the team next year if I wasn't attending college. FIRST is so adictive I feel that this addiction has become more of a quest for personal engineering bliss rather than really trying to ensure that other take the teams in the direction they see fit.

if the same person is in the dirvers seat all the time no ones challenges that or tries to lead a team in new direction, in short the team never evolves and everyone loses.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 12:43 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCook
Did you read "when mentors go too far" The reason I started this thread was to combine the "Mentors too far" portion with the changing dynamics of a FIRST robotics team. I Feel that if you graduate, you let the team function on its own and you, yourself enjoy another level of robotics competition, rather than come back with the mindset of '5th' highschool robotics season. Becasue if i had the chance I would still be running the team next year if I wasn't attending college. FIRST is so adictive I feel that this addiction has become more of a quest for personal engineering bliss rather than really trying to ensure that other take the teams in the direction they see fit.

if the same person is in the dirvers seat all the time no ones challenges that or tries to lead a team in new direction, in short the team never evolves and everyone loses.
Those are all good points. A lot of people feel that it's best for a college student to not mentor their high school team, for the reasons you listed, plus others. You can join another team, and start fresh. You can still participate in the program and not have to worry about the things you listed.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 12:52 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCook
Did you read "when mentors go too far" The reason I started this thread was to combine the "Mentors too far" portion with the changing dynamics of a FIRST robotics team. I Feel that if you graduate, you let the team function on its own and you, yourself enjoy another level of robotics competition, rather than come back with the mindset of '5th' highschool robotics season. Becasue if i had the chance I would still be running the team next year if I wasn't attending college. FIRST is so adictive I feel that this addiction has become more of a quest for personal engineering bliss rather than really trying to ensure that other take the teams in the direction they see fit.

if the same person is in the dirvers seat all the time no ones challenges that or tries to lead a team in new direction, in short the team never evolves and everyone loses.
Chris,
The whole ďmentors going too farĒ thing isnít related to the situation your team is in. The downside to solely student run teams is usually the discontinuity of the team itself. People are engaged in FIRST at different levels, and when some really gung-ho student graduates (on a team without a solid adult foundation) the team has a terrible time recovering from it. There really isnít a whole lot wrong with coming back as a ď5th year high-schoolerĒ mentor as long as youíre committed to trying to become a contributing regular mentor for the team. Thatís how I got started mentoring, as one of those ď5th year high-schoolers.Ē Youíre mistaken in thinking that everyone loses on teams with longterm support from any individual. I think I can say that every student Iíve worked with since I was a student through my mentoring years so far has learned and had a positive experience in those competition seasons.

If you really feel that after you graduate you should have nothing to do with a FIRST team, then why are you so concerned with all of this? There are lots of terrific engineering programs and extracurriculars that you can participate in during your college years. If youíre going to college nearby, I would suggest keeping your studies as your first priority but Iíd also suggest mentoring your team again in 2006 if it pulls through. I suspect that since you seem to care so much about your team that you really donít feel that coming back as a mentor is wrong, but that youíre distraught with the situation and arenít sure how to deal with it, which is totally understandable.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 06:38 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCook
Teams that can afford more regionals, manpower and special interests, seem to always 'stamp-out' the other teams. Plus FIRST is not about the people, its about the robot and how well it does in competition, because no ones asks your team for advice, if your the last seed on a list; they ask the team first seed.
Teams with the most funding, mentors, and special interests do well and thatís how the program robotics programs continue. But for team like mine, the program is now nothing because we are losing our Head mechanic, head software and hardware, and team president.
Chris,
I can see your frustration with the loss of so much. I agree with the others here that the robot is not the all to end all. It is merely the vehicle to a much better place. When this competition loses a team we all suffer in some small way. Even the large teams lose significant team members and mentors it just doesn't show. I don't know what regionals you attended but I can tell you that teams that are doing OK look for and assist other teams that need help. I can count at least ten teams that I knew of who needed serious help in the competitions that I attended. Most of those teams accepted the help and did well, one refused until it was too late. That one team broke my heart because of the stubbornness of just one mentor. If I could get one message out to teams who need help it would be, "ASK!". There is an huge number of mentors and team members who are just waiting to be asked to help. Do you need mechanical help, software, driving or strategy tips? If you need electrical help ask me. If you can't find anyone for those other problems, ask me and I will help you find someone.
The biggest fallacy in FIRST is the belief we are just a bunch of different teams. We are ONE BIG TEAM with a lot of sub teams for the purpose of competition. When you need help, we are bound to assist when we can. When your event needs a volunteer, we are there. When the robot breaks, we will help put it back together. When you ask for advice you get it. (sift out the good stuff though)
Yes, there are things that aren't perfect in this organization but we get more right than almost any other institution. If we are getting more students into college, we win, if we get more students to lift their heads from the TV games and look outside their own homes, we win. If we get students to see the light, and their grades improve, they quit gangs, they find purpose, or they help someone else, we have won.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 08:16 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Chris,

I do not think many people will give you a lot of heat, just ideas. Being on both sides of the coin, a student on a well-funded team and now a mentor on a less then stellar-funded rural college team I hope I can provide a view from both sides. How one feels though is a matter of personal experience. Something that FIRST gave me was the idea of never giving up. The belief that no matter how hard something seems to be, that it only becomes impossible when you believe that it is impossible. I have a friend on a college team who receives only about 7000 a year to keep going on. And every year people make the sacrifice to keep coming back and they always build a competitive robot. Yes I agree, many teams that are larger and better funded have an advantage robot wise, but they also have a helping advantage. 9 times out of 10 it is those teams that are right there always willing to help. I know many of them from the Midwest, and anytime we needed help on 857, we could always find it.

In regards to giving up on chairman's, I would say do not give up to anyone. Chairman's is about everything you feel has changed. The teams that have won, both at the regional and national levels have almost always been very deserving of the honor. Now that is not to say there are disagreements, but I still respect those teams that receive the honor. Now if you feel as if you need to shift resources away from chairman's sometimes, everyone needs to make priorities, but never feel as if you need to give up on something like that. Like anything in life, you cannot win if you don't play.

If you really believe that the ideals of FIRST have changed, than maybe for you they have. For me, FIRST has changed in many ways, but the one area they have not is in the ideals and purpose of FIRST.
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Michigan Technological University Mechanical Engineering '07 and Alumni Mentor (2005-2007) Team 857
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Unread 05-23-2005, 10:28 AM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

"For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology"

Some teams are big,
some teams are small,
some have nothing,
some have it all.

Did your team members have a ball?

Whether rural or urban,
foreign or suburban,
one purpose of FIRST (I believe) does lie.

Simply put in the acronym; did your team members RECOGNIZE?

OK, I can't write poems. My point is that FIRST is about inspiring young people into careers into science and technology. Whether it be an urban wanna-be gangster who's inspired into attending a tech school and becoming a mechanic, to a confused suburban high school girl who's inspired into going into engineering school in a big city, or a wealthy have-it-all A+ student who only does robotics as a resume builder so they can go to an Ivy League school and study to become a doctor.

My opinion is that if your FIRST team is spinning off alumni who study/pursue careers in science and technology; don't worry about all the arbitrary stuff. A big well-funded team pushes to win Chairman's because its challenging. A smaller under-funded team pushes for more funding & support because its challenging. A team with a lot of experienced mentors push to build a better robot because its challenging. No matter how big or how small, a team should be pushing their limits, and thats all that matters too.

So if your team pushes your limits (in any way) and spins off alumni in science and technology related career paths, your team is fitting to the ideals of FIRST.
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