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Unread 06-16-2003, 08:44 PM
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How We Could've Changed the Culture But Didn't.

Attached is a 4-page (single-spaced, so groan now) Word document that contains some of my recent thoughts about FIRST's role in society and my role within FIRST. But, it's not as much about me, specifically, as I make it sound. I just wonder if other people are experiencing some of the same frustrations as I am.

Please note that the writing quality isn't my best. It contains a lot of unanswered questions that tend to make me feel disjointed. Your mileage my vary.


[edit]removed attachment. its in 2 posts below[/edit]
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Unread 06-16-2003, 09:18 PM
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I don't have word installed. Can you post this in one or more posts?
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Unread 06-16-2003, 09:23 PM
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Just for Brandon. :)

How We Couldíve Changed the Culture, But Didnít.

Iíve been struggling with the direction FIRST has been moving in and my role in that movement for the past half-year. Sometimes publicly, sometimes privately, Iíve been consistently reevaluating why I became involved, what I hoped to achieve from my involvement, and what I hoped to personally gain. Iíve been asking if I have, or can truly make a difference.

When I signed on to this, way back in 1999, I hadnít the slightest idea about what FIRST was or had been, nor where it was going. I only saw it as an intense, fun outlet for my creative mind. I didnít give the other participants a second thought, and I never really took the time to consider the impact my mentors could have on me. Only in the years following have I gained a true appreciation for some of the amazing individuals that are peppered throughout FIRST, and with that, my desire to be just like them grew stronger and stronger. I donít think any of us could really say that we donít want to be something greater than we are. We all aspire toward becoming a bit more like our role models, and in FIRST, I found many of my role models. Interestingly, most are not older than I am.

Over the past 6 months, Iíve faced a constant challenge to my dedication to this program as a result of certain individuals, as well as prevailing trends among the largest groups of participants. A lot of what Iíve hoped to accomplish appears bleak and impossible, sometimes, and Iím not even sure if itís the right thing to do anymore. In the past half-year, Iíve become riddled with self-doubt over my dedication and insistence on doing to the good thing for FIRST. With that came a lot of introspection and thought, and I so I am sharing some of the conclusions I came to here, with the hope that it might still effect a bit of change. My involvement here continues be a subject of heated debate within myself and among my friends.

I bought into Deanís plan to change the culture hook, line and sinker. I thought it was just the opportunity I was looking for to be a real force of change in the broadest sense. I thought that together with FIRST, and largely because of FIRST, Iíd have a shot at opening some eyes to an interesting new way of looking at life. I thought that some of the things Iíve had such trouble with in the past; the things that I hold in such high regard that go completely ignored by society might become a central focus. That competition wasnít important and that FIRST broke through the boundaries of age, sex, gender and ability were among the most prominent factors in luring me in.

With time, Iíve come to realize that FIRST is as deeply entrenched in the same convention and culture as the society itís trying to change. At least, this seems to be largely true. Where a lot of the basis for FIRST could be easily employed as a lifestyle, its often relegated to being just another extracurricular activity, or another tax write-off, or another way of getting your companyís product or logo onto television, or in the paper, or out a banner in some high school, somewhere. The enormous potential isnít only being wasted, but utterly disregarded and tossed to the wayside. Itís not that people arenít capable of understanding that potential, but that theyíre lazy, and that theyíre operating within parameters established by the conventional. Theyíre afraid, maybe, to break away from that. Recent discussion has illustrated this clearly for me, with particular regard to two of FIRST cultureís two most beloved groups.

Dean and Woodie each like to encourage high school students that have been in the program to move on to college or the work force and to remain dedicated to FIRST; not to its ideals, necessarily, but to the program. They want us to found new teams at our universities if they donít yet exist, or they want us to support the teams that do exist. One of my ďQuestion of the WeekĒ topics revealed, interestingly, that a majority of students moving on to college factor the existence of a team at a certain school very heavily into their plans. Rather than start a new team, the majority chooses to follow the beaten path and go where a team exists already. This is great for those colleges with existing, successful programs, but does very little for Dean and Woodieís goal of spreading FIRST to more schools.

Starting a team isnít easy, and itís probably not for everyone. But, rather than taking steps to make it easier and accessible by working toward establishing a visible number of College-FIRST partnerships and other programs, we choose the easier route. The fact is that everyone in FIRST sticks to convention, arguing often that ďgrades are more important,Ē suggesting to me that their belief in the potential of FIRST to change the culture doesnít really exist. Where there is a perfect opportunity to begin challenging our cultures expectations of its youth by demanding that colleges and universities understand and adapt to their students, I see such opportunity being wasted and watch as people are encouraged to fall in line. We pay the tuition at these schools, so why are we giving in to their expectations of what we should be doing? Why are the other participants of FIRST, some young, some old, encouraging us to give in? Whereís the movement; the culture-changing wave of college students and new-born engineers that wanted to change the way things are done? I canít find it anywhere and I canít find the seed for it, either. The fire I had to make such changes is quickly waning in the never ending rainstorms of reality and laziness.
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Unread 06-16-2003, 09:24 PM
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In the beginning days of FIRST, long before I would ever know what was going on, there existed an unparalleled, one-time opportunity to lay the foundation of a new culture with new convention and new tradition. FIRST and The Real World existed side by side, if just for a brief moment, each with the potential to decimate the other. The concept and the goal and the hopeful end result, of course, is that FIRST would grow to become large and important and influential, and that the best elements of FIRST would seep into The Real World, and that things would begin to change.

Because of that, I canít truly understand the existence of some organizations within FIRST. On my mind of late, and possibly only because of the recent activity surround it, is the Robot Chicks Union (RCU). Why does the RCU exist at all?

Just a moment ago, I explained the potential FIRST and its newest, first participants had to create a new culture free of the worst trends in our own Real World and that the ultimate goal would seem to be introducing these new elements into The Real World. Well, with that said, it seems to me that the creation of the RCU shouldnít have ever been necessary, and that its creation actually allowed The Real World to seep into the FIRST culture. It was, among other things, the apple to Deanís Eden.

So now, in 2003, we have an organization that ensured its need by its very creation. By introducing and reinforcing the notion of gender stereotypification within FIRST by creating a group designed to combat it, and thus, by raising awareness to such stereotypes, the RCU is now a necessary element in tipping the scales of opportunity for woman and girls. So, of course, Iím not suggesting that the RCU need to be disbanded, but that itís creation was totally unnecessary. Or, it shouldíve been unnecessary.

But, where does that leave us? A large part of the RCUís mission seems to be in recruiting new woman and girls to FIRST. While I realize that teams do this as well, I think that such recruitment by the RCU is damaging, and only goes to further existing stereotypes. What message does it send to a new participant when theyíve been introduced into our world of FIRST by a group who felt isolated enough to form their own organization, particularly when the new participant was specifically targeted by that group because of a physical characteristic? In my mind, that does not take any great steps toward creating gender equality, as it only seems to further highlight the irrelevant physical differences betweens boys and girls.

FIRSTís participants will always pledge support and praise for the RCU and its effort to bridge the gender gap, but it seems like theyíre truly supporting the existing dichotomy. After all, isnít it really saying, ďI support your efforts to involve more people who arenít like me?Ē Doesnít it again point on the difference, acknowledge that there is a difference, and establish a precedent that can later be used to further propogate archaic stereotypes? If woman are just as capable as men, and we each truly believe that, what need is there for the RCU?

Again, Iíll offer that its existence ensures its necessity.

Sure, there are people in FIRST who may not necessarily agree with the assertions Iíve made and may truly feel woman to be inferior. If thatís the case, the RCU shouldnít need to band together to combat such behavior and thinking. We all should, but yet again, it seems like the majority of participants are too lazy to think beyond their own college scholarships, job prospects, and trophy case.

I have tried long and hard to justify the trends Iíve been seeing among some participants of FIRST. I canít. So, thatís why Iíve done so much thinking, and ultimately, thatís why Iím sharing my thoughts. Iím looking for answers.

I donít believe that FIRST is without benefit, and thatís why Iím still evaluating my participation and havenít left entirely. I believe that there are people whoíre still making a difference, and that Iíve made a small difference, as well. So, while that benefit should certainly not go unnoticed, I canít help but think that weíre limiting our own potential.

Iíd like to stick around a bit longer and see a real change for the better. FIRST is growing at an enormous pace and with every year passed, it becomes increasingly easier to forget who your neighbor is and forget the accountability that comes with everyone knowing who you are. Itís becoming easier to read the rules a bit less carefully, demand that a call be changed, and get caught up in floating to the top of the growing pack. In what Iíve encountered, whatís easiest is almost never whatís best. For a change, letís all stop taking the easy road and began the long, arduous hike up the road less traveled and really realize some of the potential weíve wasted before Ė personally and as a community. Letís understand that decades from now, the medals and the banners and the trophies will have meaning, but the way we behave toward one another will change the world.


That doesnít mean that we should all agree to disagree, or that we should each be allowed to do whatever we see fit. We need, now more than ever, to keep each other in check by challenging opinions, actions, and beliefs. This is the watershed. This is when we can grow to be better than we are, or when we can descend into chaos and give in to the influence of the Real World. Now, I think, is when we need to be stronger and more vigilant and more aggressive than weíve ever been about taking what weíre capable of seriously. Now is the time to make some changes before weíre each swallowed up that which we were running from in the first place. The Real World is catching up. Letís work harder and run faster for a change.
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Unread 06-16-2003, 11:50 PM
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Well written, and excellent points made. I think that everyone who reads this adapts to your point of view and sees the position that you are in. Many have fears as to what FIRST will become, few are doing anything prevent or stop these changes. It's good to see that someone is on the forefront of this, especially someone young that has a lot of heart into the program.

(Moreover, no readily apparent grammar or punctuation mistakes; that makes us English nerds extremely excited.)
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Unread 06-17-2003, 01:40 AM
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How we still have the potential to change the culture despite the slow results

Thank you, M, for posting your thoughts. Iíve always enjoyed Chief Delphi Forum in the way it let you communicate with the rest of the world, even at the worst of times when I feel lonely and insignificant. It makes me happy to know that others are doing the same thing. (and if you are looking for perfect grammar and spelling from my posts, forget it, I donít speak English)

I want to address some of the stuff you talked about in your post (I donít think I could ever write as much meaningful words as you did in this thread), specifically the part about changing the culture.

How long do you expect anyone need to change the culture? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? How long did you think it took for humanity to evolve from Stone Age to the present age of technology? Granted, we are now capable of reaching everyone in the world with a simple phone call, or through the internet. Granted, we are now much more educated and enlightened then when our ancestors throw rocks at animals. But the same education and advancements are also hindering our effort to look at the bigger picture.

Our mind is a collection of all our experiences through out our lives, and we react to things in the world based on what those experiences tell us. Base on that, can you really expect everyone coming into this program to set aside every thing theyíve been taught for the past 10~20 years, and think with a mind as open-minded as a new born child? You are partially right, in that ďItís not that people arenít capable of understanding that potential, but that theyíre lazy, and that theyíre operating within parameters established by the conventional.Ē But I would say that itís not easy understanding the potential of what FIRST is capable of, ESPECIALLY because people have been operating within parameters established by the conventional, by the culture, by the society, by the environment around them. The very environment taught them that ďthis is how it is around the world.Ē

Some of them could perceive that potential, if they want to, but they donít, because they are comfortable with the current situation of their lives. Some of them see FIRST as a new hobby to focus their talents inÖ Some of them see FIRST as something new they can bring to their studentsÖ And sometimes thatís as far as you can get to when you are trying to change peopleís mind. You have to understand that not everyone is as perceptive as others in this world.

You said that ďIíve come to realize that FIRST is as deeply entrenched in the same convention and culture as the society itís trying to change.Ē That is true too. Dean, Woodie, and FIRST staffs arenít saints. They can not give the command ďthrow away all your previous experience and listen to our words as the truth of the universeĒ, and expect everyone to follow. That doesnít mean they donít want to do that. Their goal is still to steer our future as far away from the conventions in our current society as possible. But the end result doesnít dictate how they have to be at the beginning. One of the more effective ways of accomplishing that is to work with the system, not change the system right away.

FIRSTís potential to change the world is still there. Heck, every human being has the potential to change the world, as long as the world still exist. Realistically, though, I donít expect me, or Dean, or anyone out there to change the world into a better place in, sayÖ 50 years. Does it mean human beings are incapable of changing the world? No. Does this mean we will trying very hard despite the slow results? You betcha.


I want to share something tonight, just like M did, about myself and an ideal I have. I shared a little bit in another thread already (see one of the closed thread in off season competition). I am convinced that human beings have the potential to be successful, and to continue to go on generations after generations, being more and more successful every time we learn something about ourselves and our goal. I have a dream where human being only spend time and resources to help each other out, and help the specie evolve into something better. No more fighting because there isnít enough to go around. No more fighting because some of us want to be 1000000 times richer than others.

Do humanity have a chance in achieving that? I think so, as long as we donít blow ourselves up with the weapons we have. Is it an unrealistic goal to achieve within my life time? I think so too. But knowing that doesnít stop me from working hard to get humanity just a little closer to that goal. I understand what kind of challenges I am faced with. I understand how the existing system resists changes. I understand not everyone share my point of view. But I know I am also willing to be open-minded. Let my ideals be a guiding light in front of me whenever I am faced with different opinions, or challenges along the path. The guiding light tell me I do not yet know everything I need to know to accomplish my goal, but it also tell me that as long as I do some thinking of my own, I will see truth in everything thatís going to pass me by until I perishes away and go back to being part of the universe again. With that guiding light, I know I will continue to work hard toward that dream of mine, no matter how far it is.

Perfection is always used as a guideline when defining a goalÖ The same perfection thatís very real, but intangible at the same time. I understand that perfection sometimes is impossible to achieve. But, as long as I work hard reaching toward getting closer to that perfection, I think I am doing an ok job, and hopefully I can look myself in the mirror, and into the eyes of my friends and close ones, and not feel ashamed that I am just letting my life slip by.
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Unread 06-17-2003, 10:07 AM
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Joe linked me here, and I have to say, both of you, M. and Ken, raise wonderful points. And I guess as one of the founding members of RCU, I should comment on the one part of your essay that no one has yet touched upon...so here is my attempt to dust off my account, and place my opinion down for record.



quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So now, in 2003, we have an organization that ensured its need by its very creation. By introducing and reinforcing the notion of gender stereotypification within FIRST by creating a group designed to combat it, and thus, by raising awareness to such stereotypes, the RCU is now a necessary element in tipping the scales of opportunity for woman and girls.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I suppose part of the way the RCU can be seen is due to something very simple. The very mindset between men and women are something alien to each other most times. I do not see the RCU as an organization that reinforces gender stereotypes, but rather, as one that supports those girls and women who must fight them day after day. A bridge between the genders, as you will. We will have to struggle harder than a man to get the same recognition, we will have to fight the stereotypes not only in FIRST, but in life. Take it from me, I attended school for Diesel mechanics and worked as an industrial painter for TVA, I've seen the "Real World" in action, and we do the students out there a disservice if we try to isolate them in a fantasy world. That aside, frankly, it's human nature to feel comforted to know that you are not alone. That is why I support the goals of the RCU even in my absence.

That said, I share many of your views. When I stepped away from FIRST, I was myself disillusioned. I had left my home team for personal reasons that stemmed from the fact that they simply didn't see what I had grasped onto as an ideal.... the idea that we could change the culture...even if just within FIRST for itself. I jumped from team to team, learning, seeking, absorbing everything I could. I got involved with a multitude of small organizations wanting to help change the world culture and show what FIRST had to offer. I saw it all stagnating. FIRST staff changes, team structure changes... FIRST was evolving, and I wasn't quite sure I was liking what I was seeing. I stepped away.

BUT - in the time that I have taken my hiatus, I have had time to mull over everything I learned in my time in FIRST way back in 1998. We are changing, and we are having growing pains. But, like Ken said, we cannot expect to change the world overnight. It will take time, it will take effort - it will take pure strength of will. But for each student like you or me that takes the simple IDEAL of what FIRST strives for away, we are changing the culture.

One young mind at a time.

And in reality, isn't that was FIRST strives for in the end?

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Unread 06-17-2003, 01:15 PM
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As a newbie to FIRST I have not had time to become disenchanted. I do know why I help with FIRST. I am now 50 yrs old and sometimes disillussioned with things around me. A my first event in 2002 I went as a spectator to see how things ran as I was helping with a new regional. What I witnessed was not that which I normally see. I saw students working with mentors, teams helping other teams, good competion and unbelieveable sportsmanship. I said sign me up. This year was another eye opener. Joining a team as a mentor I saw things from a different side. This was like a small family trying to accomplish the impossible. On our team it didn't matter if you were male or female. If you were willing the job was yours. Our team I believe had more girls than guys. The jobs still had to get done so some of the girls were "pressed into action". We all learned a great deal. Did we have problems? You bet!! We have grown this year and look forward to next year. Constant growth and a possitive attitude is a must.
You may not see FIRST as others do. I personally find it as a refreshing change to the real world. If everyone that was involved this year takes just a bit of what FIRST is about with them, then change has begun.Every swimming pool is empty untill you add the "FIRST" drop. Slowly but surely that pool will fill up. After reading the above posts I can see passion still lives. Continue on your path with your head held high. Yes people will try and bring you into their line of thinking. Anything worth while will take a lot of effort to stay on course. But in the long run you will be rewarded with the knowledge that you stayed the course. Again I have been encouraged by your thoughts and ideas. Keep it coming.
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Unread 06-17-2003, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
How long do you expect anyone need to change the culture? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? How long did you think it took for humanity to evolve from Stone Age to the present age of technology? Granted, we are now capable of reaching everyone in the world with a simple phone call, or through the internet. Granted, we are now much more educated and enlightened then when our ancestors throw rocks at animals. But the same education and advancements are also hindering our effort to look at the bigger picture.
I think the culture is changing abeit at a very slow rate. Look at television. Here are the shows we have now that relate to engineering, building, and technology:
Monster Garage
Junkyard Wars
Extreme Engineering
Robot Rivals
Monster House(Im pushing it a whee bit but it still relates to the design process and planning things out)
Modern Marvels
I could go on with other shows also.
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Unread 06-17-2003, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Adam Y.
I think the culture is changing abeit at a very slow rate. Look at television. Here are the shows we have now that relate to engineering, building, and technology:
Monster Garage
Junkyard Wars
Extreme Engineering
Robot Rivals
Monster House(Im pushing it a whee bit but it still relates to the design process and planning things out)
Modern Marvels
Dare I say... Battlebots?
People watch for the carnage, but I think everyone still enjoys learning about the different robots and how they were designed and built. Battlebots IS a design competition. Viewers all across the country learn to appreciate an elegant design.

*shrug*
Just a different perspective to look at.

John
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Unread 06-17-2003, 01:56 PM
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Dare I say... Battlebots?
To be truthful Comedy Central ran battlebots into the ground. It was more hype than anything and this is coming from a faithful fan. Then again..... It was battlebots that got me into FIRST. Also if any of you guys get the DIY newtwork do check out robot rivals. I heard it is a good show without any destruction.
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What I witnessed was not that which I normally see. I saw students working with mentors,
I have to stop watching television. Anyway it kind of impressed me to see the people on American Choppers mentor a high school kid on how to teach him how to make motorcycles.
This discussion reminds me of the Asimo commercials too. My family is the only family that has probably planned their vacation around a robot too.
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Last edited by Brandon Martus : 06-17-2003 at 06:42 PM.
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Unread 06-17-2003, 02:46 PM
Ken Leung's Avatar Unsung FIRST Hero
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Originally posted by Steve W
You may not see FIRST as others do. I personally find it as a refreshing change to the real world. If everyone that was involved this year takes just a bit of what FIRST is about with them, then change has begun.Every swimming pool is empty untill you add the "FIRST" drop. Slowly but surely that pool will fill up. After reading the above posts I can see passion still lives. Continue on your path with your head held high. Yes people will try and bring you into their line of thinking. Anything worth while will take a lot of effort to stay on course. But in the long run you will be rewarded with the knowledge that you stayed the course. Again I have been encouraged by your thoughts and ideas. Keep it coming.
One thing I learned is that with a group of people, the group is always trying to do "what's best for the group" at the moment. It is the individuals who can take the initiative to change the world. It is the individual who can decide they think the world is very wrong, and should do something to make it different.

I was talking to my mentor Ken Krieger about this, and he said "I can only do what I know how to do. And that is to affect one person at a time." As individuals, we all have limitations of our own. But even if you can affect one person at a time, and another, and another, then eventually they will affect people who cross their path, and you are spreading your ideas to lots and lots of people. Some of them might cross path with each other and your effect on them might amplify. It's kind of like sound waves spread out, and when the waves interfere each other, sometimes you get constructive inference that increase the magnitude of the wave.

I can still see the effect FIRST has on students, though. FIRST didn't change their view of the culture right away, but it did succeed in getting them into college. See, every time someone decide they want to go to college instead of staying around with their family business, FIRST succeeded in opening someone's mind. Sure, it's happening slowly, with one student at a time. But we are getting to the point where the first wave of college students are graduating college, and coming back into the program contributing bigger than ever. Within a few years, more and more FIRST college graduates will be coming back; with 4+ years of experiences armed behind them ready to jump start this program into the next level. How is FIRST going to handle that...? I will let FIRST worries about that.

Mean while, I am going to put all my energy in WRRF, and help it expand its program, and hopefully reach out to more people who understand what FIRST is all about. The amazing thing is, over here, FIRST brought a bunch of us together who wouldn't have known each other otherwise. Now, we are setting up WRRF as a non-profit, applying for grants and ready to set up jobs for people. FIRST didn't tell us we have to do this. But, FIRST did gave us a opportunity to meet the much of folks out there who think like us. If anything the networking value of the competition is great!
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Last edited by Ken Leung : 06-18-2003 at 11:26 AM.
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Unread 06-17-2003, 02:52 PM
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Let's do something about it

I don't want to say that everyone was offended by your post, M, but so far the only points made have been on the defensive.

I want to agree with you whole-heartedly because you simply aren't saying that FIRST hasn't been a good thing. You are just coming to question it because FIRST is changing (and the question is for better or worse, right?). I don't want to sound like an authority to congratulate you, but congratulations: in my mind if you don't question something you will usually with fall victim to it or you simply won't learn much.

Why don't we do something about this? I am with you on this - FIRST is becoming something that isn't wholely focused on it's own message. Why do I think that is happening? Because we don't even think of the other programs in FIRST when we say it. We think of the "FIRST Robotics Compeitition" which is actually only one part of FIRST. Today there is nothing that could possibly be bigger for FIRST and I would guess that the second most important thing is the FIRST Lego League. FIRST, as we saw even more this year and we will see more next year, does not have enough resources to do what they want/need to. This year a good amount of technical equipment was cut from some Regionals in order to keep expanding. Why expand? To get the message out there. To get the program out to more students and professionals. That's good and bad. There will always be those powerhouse teams that don't focus on the students enough (I believe Team 71 is one of them, having been on the team and been on and seen other teams). But the FIRST Robotics program does have a positive effect. I feel, however, that the program is growing so much that it's at a turning point. When I started work to have a team this past season, I felt like I was getting my fellow students involved into this growing community where each and every person has a real ownership in the entire experience. I'm not saying that's gone - but it's diminishing. FIRST Robotics, in my mind, will continue to grow and be the tool of experience that it is now for many teams. For many teams it will also become the capitalistic focus that Nascar is today. That's ok. But FIRST Robotics is not enough. It will not be able to carry on the full meaning of FIRST - that idea of change in culture that Dean set out for so long ago. It will have an impact, but as you said: we're not at our full potential.

So, working on the idea that FIRST isn't bigger than us because we are FIRST, let's make some changes. FIRST itself is a group of people working on FIRST's message (in the boardest sense) but almost all of the people are concentrated on this competition. How can we organize and expand this group of people that want to get up off our lazy butts and make more of an impact. Having a life dedicated to FIRST is having it's wear on people (the thread about burning out shows that well). I think that's because it's becoming so well based on this competition. Many teams work round the year to get the funds they need. There are off season competitions. Now we even have a preseason Edubot (which is ok - that's for learning anyway). But it's all so much and it's not working on FIRST so much as it's working on that one element of FIRST - the robotics competition.

A little disclaimer: I love FIRST. I love the competition. If you read some of my other posts, you'll see that I was on stage in St. Louis with a bad fever. My message is NOT that Dean, Woodie, FIRST staffers, or FIRST participants have gone astray on a path that should not be traveled. That path, in my mind, is the way that FIRST Robotics itself should follow in order to serve its purpose. What I'm saying is that FIRST Robotics is becoming a limited tool that is inadequate for exercising the true potential of so many people. I borrow some ideas from M and I add my own - as food for thought and as inspiration:

Let's do it.
Let's do more.

You can hit reply, e-mail me (mensing@bu.edu), or IM me (general198 or AcademyFreek). I would love to discuss this with anyone.
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Unread 06-17-2003, 04:14 PM
indieFan indieFan is offline
Bye RoboDox & LVHS. It was great!
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This post has, once again, raised a number of issues in my own mind about the goals of FIRST and how others interpret what is meant by something said.

Iíve currently been left wondering what the overall goal of FIRST is. The reason for this is that I did not come into the FIRST program until the 2001 season. When I did enter, it was explained by the high school teacher that the emphasis of this program was to *inspire* and *recognize* science and technology. Yet, I find myself confused after three years in this program about what the word *inspire* truly means. With all the different teams and mentors currently in the program, it is understandable that a person would come across a variety of ideas about what ďinspirationĒ is.

From what I understood at the beginning, however, I am finding that few to no adults in the program believe ďinspirationĒ in the same way I do. I have come to believe that the FIRST program is not just about showing students science and technology and then hoping that they continue on in college in some technical field, but that the program should actually be *targeting* specific students that wouldnít ordinarily have the opportunity to see it. Currently, however, in the area that I live in, the schools that are primarily involved in FIRST are from middle-class (and above) areas. The students on these teams are the ones that, with relatively rare exception, already know that they are going to go to college. And, like myself, they would have found their way into the sciences, if they so desired.

Yet, to me, the students that are attending lower-class area schools are the ones that should be getting involved in this program. How many possible engineers are we losing because their lives have not been touched by this program simply because they are in a low-income school? How many of these students are not being *inspired* in the areas of science and technology? How many of these students are not getting the chance to realize that college is not an impossibility? These are the students that I believe the program should be inspiring.

But the overall goals of FIRST are not the only thing that is being interpreted in a variety of ways. Take, for example, Deanís homework assignment to the graduating seniors to start new teams. Some people are saying that next yearís college freshmen are supposed to start teams on their own and compete in next yearís competition. Yet, what Dean said could actually be interpreted that next yearís freshmen should go out and network with professors, local high schools, and community members that might be interested in getting a team together in the next several years. Iím sure thereís another way of looking at what Dean said that isnít stated here. The point is that most people will interpret something thatís said however they want to interpret it.

I know this doesn't answer the question, but hopefully it will raise more questions in another person's mind.
indieFan

P.S.- As another example of various interpretations, I always saw RCU as a possible networking opportunity and bridge between high school students and SWE (Society of Women Engineers) at the college and professional levels.
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Unread 06-17-2003, 08:10 PM
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I just wanted to take a moment to thank people for reading and replying to this thread, whether you agree or disagree with the ideas I put out there.

I know that for some it's boring, and some don't want to be bothered with it, and some don't want to touch it with a 10' pole. More replies are coming, as well.

I'm not going to say more about this than I already have because my intention was not to enter into a debate or dialogue with anyone, but to clear my conscience. That I am able to share my thoughts publicly and that people are willing to take the time to consider them and offer their interpretations and opinions is a great bonus.

Again, thank you.
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