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  #16   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 02-23-2007, 11:44 AM
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Re: Multiples 2007

First off there is a difference between similar designs and collaboration, for example two of the RI teams (1568 and 1350) built very similar robots despite the fact we didn't talk about design or see each others bots until day 43 (at team 69's scrimmage). This was coincidence; there are only a couple of simple and reliable designs, so you will see alot of teams that seem to have some design overlap.
http://joemenassa.com/images/robotic...s/IMG_1598.jpg

Now to the topic at hand, collaboration. If two or three teams work together and all of the hs students get to work with engineers and every one learns something then I see absolutely no problem. FIRST has not stopped collaboration because it doesn't need to, collaboration does not seem to take away from the quality of the experience of the students and mentors involved. I have worked with a couple different teams and have also had the opportunity to see how some other teams work. It is definitely possible to have two or more teams build similar robots without taking away from the experience for any one. I think that more time needs to be spent focusing on the details than on the big picture. The big picture just shows identical robots, but if you read the old posts by Karthik and the other Niagra FIRST people, or you read this year’s posts by any of the collaborating team members then I think you would have a hard time arguing that these teams did not fulfill the goals of FIRST.
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Unread 02-23-2007, 04:20 PM
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Re: Multiples 2007

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrafa View Post
I don't think I've noticed any startling growth in collaborating teams over last year.
Here are the design collaborations that are public at the moment.

- 384, 540, 1086
- 254, 968
- 1503, 1680
- 1369, 1902
- 226, 515, 1447
- 70, 494
- 1112, 1815

Whether that growth is "startling" is up to the reader, regardless it is growth.
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Unread 02-23-2007, 08:25 PM
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Re: Multiples 2007

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karthik View Post
Here are the design collaborations that are public at the moment.

- 384, 540, 1086
- 254, 968
- 1503, 1680
- 1369, 1902
- 226, 515, 1447
- 70, 494
- 1112, 1815
From that list, I count no rookie teams. I think Beth's observation is valid.

Over and over again, the answer to why collaborate and build one design among several teams is that the teams believe that collaboration will allow them to build a more competitive robot than they could alone.

Yes, there are lots of opportunities to learn by working closely with other teams, but I'm not convinced that most of these experiences require duplicate robots.

Another interesting trend: As some teams/mentors make public their design solutions, many teams are picking up and building major components of their robots by duplicating these designs - in some cases exactly. This results in robots with duplicate parts - even if the teams did not collaborate. A prime example is the "west coast drive" and "west coast arm".

I humbly remind teams to give credit where it is due - especially in terms of design solutions that have been implemented this year. (BTW, both "west coast" drive & arm designs first appeared on robots from the Bionic Bulldogs - Team 60 from Kingman, AZ when the team was coached by Glenn Thuroughman.)

Just my thoughts at the end of a very difficult week. Congratulations to everyone for making it through another Build Season. See you at LA, SD, Sacramento and hopefully Atlanta!

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Unread 02-24-2007, 01:07 PM
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Re: Multiples 2007

Well, I might as well tell my opinion on this issue.

When I saw the Niagara Triplets at GLR last year, I was personally a bit... well, pissed off. Along with other people on my team. They had gotten really far in the competition through collaboration that other teams didn't have. I realized that this a choice to collaborate and to make the same/very similar robots, but there were teams very set on making their own. In a way, I found this to be an unfair advantage for the other teams that worked alone, especially for the newer teams with not as much experience. I read the thread in CD right after GLR about the triplets, and my reaction was around the lines of, "...oh. That's why."

I felt bad for a while. I did want teams that weren't as fortunate in terms of funding to get a chance to compete with a working robot fit for competition. However, time passed, and I realized there were other ways to get past obstacles, especially involving money that didn't involve making twins or triplets of a robot, even if it was cheaper. There are many ways to fundraise if a team really applies itself, and even if teams do collaborate, I don't think they should make the same robot. It might be harder work and harder to pay for, but I personally find it more worth it. Teams will take more pride in themselves not only as a team, but also on an individual level. It might sound idealistic, but if one really believes that they don't have to settle for the easy way out, that attitude will take someone far.

I know plenty of people on 226, especially the veterans, have a lot of pride for their team. I do, too. Even though our collaboration with two other teams is a healthy working relationship from what I've heard, I'm still disappointed that we are part of a triplicy this year. It might be selfish to feel this way, but we just like to stand out as a team, not just with our tshirts and our mascot, but with our robot. It just feels so... cheap to do this, in my opinion. We could have easily collaborated without copying. I know I'm not the only person who feels this way. I have talked to people on my team, current students and alums, and they aren't the happiest about it. But obviously it's too late to go back on the plan, and we just have to do the best with what we did.

It sounds like this was an idea to make us look better in the FIRST community, to have a greater chance at winning Chairmans, or to even win the actual competition. But that's not everything. It's not all about looking better and getting respect, it's about doing what most people on the team want to do most, especially the students; build an awesome robot. We're happy to have our robot out there, no matter how much it breaks down or malfunctions. I'd rather have a robot that was crappy that my team made themselves, and only for themselves, rather than a robot that was made to perfection that was cloned a few times to be used by another teams.

I also like the variety of robots. If everyone starts following this multiplicity trend, there will be less unique robots in general. And not all ideas will go through, especially in a multi-team collaboration. Sometimes it's the idea that everyone is against except for a few people that happens to work for the best, and ideas are more likely to go through when less people are working together. Yes, there are more ideas generated in the a multi-team environment, but if more ideas could become reality if each team made their robot differently.

I'm not completely against collaboration and making a few elements of the robot a bit similar, but making clones I am not too pleased about. It's about finding a balance: sharing a design of a part of a robot, but yet, having enough to make it look uniquely like your team's.
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Unread 02-24-2007, 01:30 PM
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Re: Multiples 2007

Quote:
Originally Posted by LindsayKnowlton View Post
I'd rather have a robot that was crappy that my team made themselves, and only for themselves, rather than a robot that was made to perfection that was cloned a few times to be used by another teams.
Just because two teams have the same robot does not mean that one did all the work, and the other was handed a robot. Maybe some collaborations have worked this way, but certainly not most of them.

I can tell you from our team's experiences, both teams spent an incredible amount of time designing, discussing, and refining everything on the robot, together.

We're not collaborating to help the less fortunate, or anything like that. We're collaborating because it helps to show the students a real engineering design process, our mentors and 968's mentors have been friends for years, so it's fun for us to get to work together, and because it does allow us to build a better robot.

The workplace is extremely global right now. Your job can be based in the US, and you can have coworkers in Asia, Europe, etc. In our case, 968 is hundreds of miles away. Not very far in an absolute sense, but when it comes to having meetings, testing ideas, shipping robot parts, it's pretty far. The whole design and build process better prepares everyone on both teams for the real world, where you don't just get to sit in your little corner and do your own thing.

As to the whole making twins/triplets/etc to be competitive, sure they usually are competitive. But look at the teams who have been most competitive and done so--60, 254, 494, 968, 1114, etc. All these teams have always been competitive by themselves. All teams will continue to be competitive to the highest level, even if they were not collaborating.

I dont think collaboration would help rookies as much as some make it seem. As a rookie team, I would not want to make the same robot as a team thats many years older. It would take away from the process. It's much better for a veteran team to guide and teach a rookie team than to make identical robots. Considering that they are rookies, likely more of the design, and build of the bot would probably happen by the veteran team, which won't help the rookies if/when theyre on their own.

In short, who cares what reasons people collaborate for, so long as they aren't doing anything to break the rules? To make great robots, to further inspire the students, to work with your friends, to help disadvantaged teams, just for the challenge...whatever. As long as it's inspiring the kids, it's all good.
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Unread 02-24-2007, 01:55 PM
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Re: Multiples 2007

sighhhhhhhhhhhh. Much of what I read in this thread is respectful, but there's an undertone that needs to be addressed.

Judging or evaluating ANYTHING from a distance is dangerous. Even for those who know team members well on other teams. Anything that keeps students, mentors, and teams in FIRST is a good thing. What works for my team, might not work for yours ... yadda, yadda ...

Remember why FIRST exists, folks. Stay focused on the mission of changing the culture. Putting people in a position of explaining/defending a team choice on how to do business makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. All of these other details are wasted thought and energy. It's one thing to want to learn from other teams, but that is not what's happening here.

Remember, take what you know and believe and value from being a part of competitive events in the popular culture and throw those away. No, this isn't easy for any of us. I'm a lifetime jock and have coached multiple sports for nearly a decade where it was more about winning than I ever cared to admit. However, this is what our founder, the national advisors, and the board of directors ask of us. Without trying to sound harsh, it's time to get on board with that notion and live it all of the time, on purpose, for a reason. And, no, spending your time evaluating whether or not someone ELSE has it right isn't what I mean. For those who haven't read it, I believe I covered my thoughts on Gracious Professionalism here: http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/sh...74&postcount=1

Every time you show up at a FIRST event you should notice the PEOPLE and say to yourself, "Oh, wow. Look at all of these people involved in FIRST. I wonder what positive difference FIRST makes in each of their lives. Maybe I'll go ask them all over the course of the next three days. Oh, yeah, there are some robots here too."

Until we learn to celebrate our differences with great vigor in an earnest way, we won't accomplish what we're supposed to get done. If the average American (sorry folks from elsewhere, I don't know the numbers for you) lives to the age of 75, that's 3900 weeks Americans have to live. I've got about 1820 weeks left in my life, how about you? How do you want to use the little time you have left?

Namaste.
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Last edited by Rich Kressly : 02-24-2007 at 02:28 PM.
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Unread 02-25-2007, 05:14 AM
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Re: Multiples 2007

Quote:
Originally Posted by LindsayKnowlton View Post
Well, I might as well tell my opinion on this issue....
That's a lot of harsh words coming from somebody with no first hand experience working with the collaborative group, and little experience with the robot build team.

To 515 and 1447 - I'm proud to have worked with your teams this season. If our three robots don't run in a single match all season, I'll still be proud to have worked with you, because you're just that great. I hope that the experience has been as good for you, both personally and as a team, as I feel it has been for our team (whether our students have recognized it yet or not). Not only do I have pride in my team, but in both of yours as well, and in the achievements that our teams have made together. I also would like to apologize on behalf of anyone who may have ever made you feel, in any way shape or form, unwelcome.

To the Niagra FIRST bunch - Having experienced a collaborative build season, I'm amazed at what your teams accomplished.

As far as the Chairman's Award goes, we make the decisions we do because we think that it will benefit the FIRST community, or the community at large, while making our team as a whole a more inspirational experience, and through this process we strive to be the best team. When we are judged as the best team we'll win the Chairman's award. We didn't enter into a collaboration because it would "look good" on our award. For that matter, it wasn't to look good to the FIRST community (I doubt anyone would enter into such a publicly contested arrangement to look good), or to be more competitive either.

Another misconception appears to be that collaboration is easy, or taking the easy way out. I assure you that it was not easy. In all my years on this team I can't recall a year where we worked as hard as a team (or in this case, three teams) as we did this year. I can also assure you that there is a strong fundraising effort, and that building identical robots had little to do with saving money. Perhaps we just didn't organize it right, but there's probably little cost difference between what we spent and what it would have cost to build three different robots. There was also no "copying." From the beginning we worked as one group to design one robot and build three of them.

I'm proud that my team is part of a "triplicy." I think that the experience forged bonds between both teams and people from different backgrounds, who otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity to interact, while maximizing our resources to spread the message of FIRST. One aspect of a successful season is knowing the limits of your resources and being able to not completely spread everything to thin. Overtaxing the resources leads to burnout, and that's one thing that does not lead to a healthy sustainable team.

I don't mean to say that collaboration is a perfect solution, because of course it's stressful, but I have yet to see a FIRST team (whether they are part of a collaboration or not) in which everything is perfect. One of the wonderful things about FIRST is the diversity among how teams are run and operated, and I think collaboration (identical robots or not) is one of the many effective methods.

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Last edited by Allison K : 02-25-2007 at 05:22 AM.
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Unread 02-25-2007, 05:37 AM
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Re: Multiples 2007

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Kressly View Post
Judging or evaluating ANYTHING from a distance is dangerous. Even for those who know team members well on other teams. Anything that keeps students, mentors, and teams in FIRST is a good thing. What works for my team, might not work for yours ... yadda, yadda ...
Great Post. I thought that our teams this year would have been a little happier about how things were run this year to help others. It is a little sad that some are not. We have barely enough mentors to run our own team (More than enough work, global travel etc..). Most of the mentors also have toddlers at home that also have many needs. This year, all nighters at the tech center for FIRST instead of my 1 year old didn't seem like the fantastic idea it used to for the past nine years..... The bar is rasied every year, the rookie teams are coming in with fantasitc robots and strategy. The idea of helping the three teams (We actually helped 4) this year and making individual designs, helping debug, rebuilding etc.... just isn't possible with the amount of resources that we have available. Ask most machinists, making 3 of the same part is easier than 3 totally different parts. Much of the time is in the setup. We now also have spare parts that all three teams can use. I say this every year, most mentors in FIRST have little to gain except helping the students to find their way now and hoping it will have helped them as they head into collage and later into real life. I don't have a son or daughter on the team, I am not a teacher for the school, I don't need this on my resume. This is all volunteer for us and the thought of shutting out teams that need some help because we didn't want their robot to look like ours just isn't an option. I would actually hope others would follow this strategy if another team comes to you for help.

Matt
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Unread 02-25-2007, 08:51 AM
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Re: Multiples 2007

I just wanted to clarify that I am not trying to attack the new collaborations, but rather to determine what participants feel the value is in doing them with all veterans. The 226 collaboration seems to make sense to me, as it was done to save other teams. I'd love to hear from others, however, for their reasoning and the value taken from teaming up 2+ veterans.
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Unread 02-25-2007, 11:03 AM
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Re: Multiples 2007

I know Allison and Matt have explained our reasons already, but I just wanted to put in my 2 cents…

As Rich said, judging anything from a distance is dangerous. Yeah, people on my team were against our collaboration, others agreed to it only because of Chairman's, and of course, there were others that truly understood FIRST and agreed to it because they wanted to see all three teams succeed, but we voted, the majority were for working with the others and I'm very proud of my team for that decision.

It's hard to judge from the sidelines the extent of a collaboration. As president, I was at the school for the first part of build, and didn't get to see anything first-hand. I got lots of complaints at first, but after a week, those same people came to me and told me about how much they liked it and how cool they thought the robot would look, since the people on the other team had some great ideas. I don’t know of anyone that was actually working with the other teams didn’t love the collaboration efforts.

And it wasn’t at all like one team was doing all of the work for the rest either, we split up into groups by what part of the robot we were working on rather than what team we were on, and made sure one person from each team was in each group. I know this might sound stale, but we really did work like we were one team by the end of build. At the competitions, one person from 515 and 1447 will be working in our pit, and one person from 226 will be in theirs.

I can see where all of the arguments against collaborations are coming from, but I'm really glad my team was part of this effort this year. The more teams succeed, the better it is for FIRST and the rest of us.

~Smita
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Unread 02-25-2007, 11:10 AM
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Re: Multiples 2007

Lindsay those are some pretty harsh words from alum who hasn't seen our team since kickoff, nor had any hand in helping or assisting us this year, and to try and speak on our behalf is just rude. I will admit, I was the first one to speak up against identical robots, oh and how I was against it : ), but however that was a pride issue for me. My argument was always however, I want to help them... I just don't want 3 of the same. My engineers and mentors (Allison, Matt and others who have not posted yet) noticed that before me luckily. After this last 6 weeks, to have built 3 different robots would have been way crazy. Now I know they where right, And after working with the two teams, and meeting them, talking with them, and just hanging out with them, I do it again in a heartbeat triplet or not, if it means they all get one more year of first. I mean come on, itís like being at a competition with other teams and suchÖ but youíre building with them everyday! This was the most intense build I think our team has ever had, at least that I have been a part of, and not until near the last day did the mills finally turn off and the drill presses stop pressing, and our poor welder donít get me started. So to all those who doubt, dismay and look down upon, let me tell you, we did this to help people, to allow these builders designers and everyone else, one more year building competitive robots.
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Unread 02-25-2007, 11:25 AM
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Re: Multiples 2007

I would repectfully ask that the 226 team discussions take place in private. Clearly, feelings have already been hurt. Which brings to light what I was trying to say earlier. Why is a thread like this even necessary? Isn't it obvious that hurt feelings, etc. wil be the result of such a discussion? Why are we trying to "make sense" of something like this?

I'm going to close this thread and ask 226 members and alum to reflect, talk to one another privately, and repair any harm done. In the end, some may need to agree to disagree, forgive, and move on. For the rest of us, especially the veterans, can we please be more aware of what is likely to happen when we begin or perpetuate or judge in a thread like this one?

Thanks.

[edit] - general discussion about collaboration, benefits, drawbacks, what's special/different about our circumstances, benefits, etc are fine and welcome here on CD. Keep it respectful, without judgment and all is well. If you wish to partake, here: http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/sh...130#post586130 [/edit]
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