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Unread 02-07-2006, 01:37 PM
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tying together FIRST, VEX, and FLL

I will start out by asking, is FIRST getting expensive? Our team is barely able to keep up with the price of entering FRC let alone building a robot. Last year we participated in VEX and the students seamed to like it just as much as FRC. I was wondering if any other teams were in the same situation. It is undecided weather or not our team will compete in FRC next year but it is almost definite that we will be in VEX.

With this said, should FRC be moved to the college level and VEX be for high school? I would still say that the FRC should allow high schools participate if they want, but with the money that is needed to operate a FRC team, I think a college could bear the load better than a high school.

Just my thoughts
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Unread 02-07-2006, 01:47 PM
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Re: tying togheher FIRST, VEX, and FLL

I apologise if I sound kind of ignorant. I know FRC is First Robotics Competition and FLL is First Lego League, but what is VEX?
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Unread 02-07-2006, 01:53 PM
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Re: tying togheher FIRST, VEX, and FLL

These links should help:

http://www.usfirst.org/vex/

http://www.vexlabs.com/

http://www.vexrobotics.com/

Vex is a robotic design system made by IFI and marketed by RadioShack, the FIRST Vex Challenge is a yearly competition, starting this year, for teams making Vex Robots, it's sort of the midpoint between FLL and FRC.
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Unread 02-07-2006, 02:08 PM
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Re: tying together FIRST, VEX, and FLL

I think that adding Vex will make both FRC and Vex more fun.

Smaller teams with lower budgets and less help from engineers can do solely Vex, producing competitive machines in that arena.

The teams that are blessed with larger budgets can continue to compete in FIRST, and may still use Vex as a "JV" program for rookies and younger students.
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Unread 02-07-2006, 03:02 PM
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Re: tying together FIRST, VEX, and FLL

[my 2 cents]
I strongly believe that FRC should remain a high school competition. Moving it up to college would defeat the purpose and eliminate a great opportunity to inspire HS students. It sets a very high standard and requires great committment to compete at a high level, and for those fortunate enough to experience it, offers tremendous rewards.

However, the cost in time and money is more than most people and schools are willing to put out, and IMHO, it cannot continue to expand at the current rate. That isn't necessarily bad - if it plateaued at 1000 teams it would still be a great opportunity for 25,000 or so students each year.

FVC (aka VEX) is a good start at creating similar opportunities for a wider audience. It has many of the same challenges as FRC with a lower cost in money and time committment. Having ref'ed an FVC competition earlier this year, I can say that those students exercised creativity in their robot designs and competed with intensity of the same caliber as seen at any FRC regional.

If FIRST can keep the cost to compete in FVC down, I think it could grow nearly as big as FLL (aka Lego League) - especially if they encouraged middle school entries and keep the total cost to field a team below $1,000 per year.
[/my 2 cents]
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Unread 02-07-2006, 03:32 PM
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Re: tying togheher FIRST, VEX, and FLL

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Krass
...the FIRST Vex Challenge is a yearly competition, starting this year, for teams making Vex Robots...
FVC is a pilot program this year. Several FVC competitions are left in this year's season and I encourage all FIRSTers to attend an event if one is located near you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by icdumbpeeps305
I apologise if I sound kind of ignorant. I know FRC is First Robotics Competition and FLL is First Lego League, but what is VEX?
The acronyms used this year for the four programs are FRC for the FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students, FVC for the FIRST Vex Challenge for high school students (in pilot this year), FLL for the FIRST LEGO League for ages 9-14, and JFLL for Junior FIRST LEGO League for ages 6-9 (also in pilot this year).
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Unread 02-07-2006, 03:44 PM
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Re: tying together FIRST, VEX, and FLL

IMO, FRC has to be a High School age competition. It costs far less money to change majors or career paths in high school (and realising your DON'T want to be an engineer etc is every bit as important as realising you do) than once you've entered college.
FRC is expensive, but it has also survived as long as it has for a reason, people love it.
As a first hand participant in both the FVC and FRC competitions, I love them both, but I would never trade FRC for FVC. They are just too different.
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Unread 02-07-2006, 04:07 PM
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Re: tying together FIRST, VEX, and FLL

Quote:
Originally Posted by sburro
With this said, should FRC be moved to the college level and VEX be for high school? I would still say that the FRC should allow high schools participate if they want, but with the money that is needed to operate a FRC team, I think a college could bear the load better than a high school.
As much as many people (including myself) would love having a college-level FIRST competition (I swear, I am addicted to FIRST! ), I don't think we should eliminate FRC from the high school level. Yes, FIRST can be very expensive, and yes it can be hard to have a well-funded program. But is this not what really happens in the real world? Are we not always restricted by some means (such as budget, time, and resources) in the real world? Can these restrictions often lead to better ideas? Does FIRST succeed in these areas? Yes, yes, and yes.

FRC, FVC, FLL, and JFLL all serve their roles. Gus Team 228 does have a FVC team, which has turned out to be our "Junior Varsity" team for all the freshmen and new members on the team. The Vex team seems a lot easier to the new members, so a much higher percentage of the new members actually work on at least one of the robots now.

In addition to FVC, team 228 also has connections with the middle school FLL teams in our town. A bunch of the new members on our team this year were participants in the FLL program. (I was an FLL kid way back in the day...) In previous years, our team used to have all the local FLL teams come to our fall team meetings, and we would have students help mentor the FLL kids. We have also been looking at getting some of the elementary schools in our town to start JFLL teams.

So our team pretty much covers the whole FIRST spectrum.
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Unread 02-07-2006, 04:52 PM
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Re: tying together FIRST, VEX, and FLL

This is great stuff to hear!

I couldn't remember whether I had read it on CD or just heard it in discussion, but FIRST as an Organization as well as a Community is well aware of the threat of Vex cannibalizing FRC, and is working toward (what will hopefully be) the best option to inspire students.

A recent example of this is the launch of Budweiser Select, which was created to compete against Miller Lite. However, instead of eating into Miller's market share, they had major issues because Select ended up cannibalizing sales of Bud's other brands.
Did Anheuser-Busch expect this? I would hope so - it's very typical behavior for a brand extension to cannibalize and then either flop or stand on its own after the trial period.

But back to the point, it's good to see that FIRST is seriously thinking about the implications, because that means we can steer the ship in the right direction quicker than if we were not thinking about it if something were to happen.
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Unread 02-08-2006, 12:03 PM
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Re: tying together FIRST, VEX, and FLL

Our team has been doing FRC for at least 5 years now and this past year we got into the whole VEX deal which we are currently putting on hold for FRC. Our team also mentors FLL before the FRC season so we're doing all three with minimal funding. Our main source of income is still fundraising althogh we have been getting checks from sponsors.

Money wise FRC is very expensive but worth it. We work really hard just to get enough money to go and then when we go it is worth it.
Vex is also fun too and a lot less expensive. I got to see what VEX was all about last year at atlanta and I liked it. This way our robotics class gets to work on their own VEX robots along with our FRC.

I think our team likes doing both with a heavier focus on FRC.
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Unread 02-08-2006, 12:31 PM
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Re: tying together FIRST, VEX, and FLL

The important thing is that there is now a growing viable option to FRC. Teams that in the past have imploded under the stress of FRC now can pull back and have the option of doing the less stressful VEX. It's still a win because they are staying in the First Org. Students are still being exposed and challenged with technology. Vex with it's quick prototyping as opposed to fabrication Lends it's self to games that are more autonomous. So much of a teams effort with FRC is in the design and fabrication that the programming tends to suffer. This is probably the last year for our team and FRC. We have 2 VEX kits and will most likely step back to VEX next year. The goal should be to Grow First and expose as many high school students to the First Ideals. Which they participate in doesn't matter.
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