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Unread 04-09-2006, 11:30 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

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Originally Posted by rourke
I was seeking to hear from those teams that are actively pursuing applying collaboration to their region to help with growth. Let’s hear from some visionaries on some plans…..[/size][/font]
Here is what we (234) did last year. I would not call it "collaboration", but merely helping a new school get a team moving.

We had been working with a nearby school (who is a rival in everything else) to help them get started. They had a few students come to our meetings, they went to the Indiana Forums, and were getting interested and excited. So to help them, we invited them to the 2005 IRI. Then, we worked with 217, who usually builds 2 robots, and asked if they could bring robot #2 to the IRI. They could and they did. So we kept working with the new school, and had a few summer sessions for them to make some controllers, and then we put their pit between us and 217 at the IRI. And we had two of our just graduated seniors be mentors for them and help them.

They learned from us, from 217, and everyone else at the event. They did not build their robot, but learned immensely from being a part of a FIRST event and seeing what everyone could and would do to help them.

They became a team for 2006 #1741), and designed, manufactured, built and competed with their own robot. We still gave them some help, but they worked considerably on their own. They competed at Boilermaker, even winning some awards (Rookie Inspiration and Regional Finalists). They are truly an inspired team and I amsure will be successful in many ways in the near future.


Another way to create some growth.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 12:20 AM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander McGee
I am a bit bothered by your assertiveness in this matter, as well as the way you seem to address the FIRST community. We are not ignorant nor are we unintelligent, and the “world is flat” digression is a bit condescending.

There are people who do not like collaborations. Period. Read some of the posts in this thread and others, you will see. Blatantly telling them that they are wrong and need to “embrace” it is unacceptable. People are entitled to their opinions and are certainly not going to change their minds any time soon.
Alexander,

It's clear that there are people who do not support collaboration. If I may put some words in Steve's mouth for a moment, I believe his "world is flat" analogy is refering to the fact that FIRST has clearly said collaboration is here to stay. Obviously there will be people who don't like this, but what Steve is suggesting is that those who disapprove, try and accept it's presence and make the most of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander McGee
Yes, you will tell me and have that your students are inspired by what they have seen, but aren’t there better ways? I don’t pretend to know how your teams operate, and am not going to make any assumptions, but how inspired can your students be when there is spite surrounding you at the events? Everywhere I went at GLR, I heard spite about your teams and how “unfair” it was all day long. Is this really what you want?
Let me assure you our students are inspired, as they tell me on a daily basis. I'm sure this doesn't satisfy you, but they'd be glad to tell you in person if you took the time to stop by our pits. Yes, we're aware that many people were not happy with the success of our teams at the competition. I'm sure my students realized this as well. But, we were also overwhelmed by kind comments from enthusiastic mentors, students, judges and general FIRST supporters. The positive comments definitely outweighed the negative. These comments definitely inspired our students. (Granted, I'm sure most people with the negative comments chose not to come forward with them)

Yes, not everyone likes the way we operate. Should we abandon our approach, to satisfy the critics? Obviously not. Team 254 is always unfairly criticized by the FIRST community, has this stopped them? No. They keep doing their thing, inspiring thousands along the way.

This collaboration has benefited our community, our high schools, our sponsors and our students. We've been able to affect the lives of 4 times as many Niagara Region high school students. We've energized our community about FIRST. (Expect 1114's Chairman's submission to be posted in early May, which details many of these topics) Of course we don't like the spite, but it's a small toll to pay on the road to a culture change.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 12:39 AM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karthik
Alexander,

It's clear that there are people who do not support collaboration. If I may put some words in Steve's mouth for a moment, I believe his "world is flat" analogy is refering to the fact that FIRST has clearly said collaboration is here to stay. Obviously there will be people who don't like this, but what Steve is suggesting is that those who disapprove, try and accept it's presence and make the most of it.



Let me assure you our students are inspired, as they tell me on a daily basis. I'm sure this doesn't satisfy you, but they'd be glad to tell you in person if you took the time to stop by our pits. Yes, we're aware that many people were not happy with the success of our teams at the competition. I'm sure my students realized this as well. But, we were also overwhelmed by kind comments from enthusiastic mentors, students, judges and general FIRST supporters. The positive comments definitely outweighed the negative. These comments definitely inspired our students. (Granted, I'm sure most people with the negative comments chose not to come forward with them)

Yes, not everyone likes the way we operate. Should we abandon our approach, to satisfy the critics? Obviously not. Team 254 is always unfairly criticized by the FIRST community, has this stopped them? No. They keep doing their thing, inspiring thousands along the way.

This collaboration has benefited our community, our high schools, our sponsors and our students. We've been able to affect the lives of 4 times as many Niagara Region high school students. We've energized our community about FIRST. (Expect 1114's Chairman's submission to be posted in early May, which details many of these topics) Of course we don't like the spite, but it's a small toll to pay on the road to a culture change.
Collaboration has definitely benefitted me as a student.
Its helped me experience the true meaning of the word team. Whenever there's a problem, it doesn't matter what team you're from within our collaboration, someone will come to your aid. Its like we've all become one huge team, yet we've still kept our individuality at the same time.
Our collaboration has inspired me to help others. When I first joined team 1114, I was really unsure of what I would do since I had no experience in the shop. My opinion soon changed once build season started because I had my teammates, as well as members of 1503 and 1680 asking me to do little jobs in there, as well as teaching me how to operate some of the machinery. From this, I've felt more involved, and I now know more about the shop then I ever thought I would. I still don't know a lot, but it makes me eager to learn more so I can continue to aid the team on our way to success.
I know I'm not the only one who feels this way on our teams, and if it wasn't for the collaboration, so many students would be missing out on the opportunity to become inspired by what is accomplished. I wish to spread the word of FIRST as much as I can to other students, so they can experience the excitement and passion that we experience everyday with our team, as well as the friendships that will last a long time.
Team 1114's goal is to spread the word of FIRST, one patch at a time, and our collaboration is allowing us to achieve this goal.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 12:55 AM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

I have watched this thread for a long time now and am quite pleased by the fact that collectively, people have managed to keep their tempers, egos and attitudes in check as we debate this thorny issue. That being said, please let me make one thing clear, that has already been mentioned by other members of CD and myself on several other occasions.

1114 is a Regional Chairman's Award winning team.

They have some of the most intelligent, most respected and most committed mentors in FIRST. Not only can you confirm that with their students, but you can ask virtually any Canadian or American team that has had the opportunity to play with them or work with them. They have a Woodie Flowers Finalist, Outstanding Volunteer and numerous UFH Awards to demonstrate this as well.

You do not receive any of these accolades without doing something right.

Perhaps oversimplification of this issue is a dangerous thing, as it may stifle what appears to be a frank and open discussion about this issue, but it must be made clear and understood that the Triplets and the Triplet model are currently not doing FIRST any harm. To anyone that says so, I point to the awards that they have received, the students that have spoken out on behalf of them and the fact that a corporate sponsor cares enough to make his opinion known on a public forum.

The Triplets play the game and play the game well. They play to win, as anyone else would and should do. They have more resources than other teams and sometimes that makes them the target of petty bickering and jealousy fueled comments. But I ask any of you to switch positions with them. Would you not be following their model in competition? Would you not be choosing what appeared to be the best fit for you? If you already won one regional event with them, would you not realize that you could work effectively with them and if given the opportunity, choose them again? FIRST should and is bigger than any petty arguing that you might overhear at a competition. Emotions are high, the goal of FIRST is higher.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 12:56 AM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander McGee
Yes, you will tell me and have that your students are inspired by what they have seen, but aren’t there better ways? I don’t pretend to know how your teams operate, and am not going to make any assumptions, but how inspired can your students be when there is spite surrounding you at the events? Everywhere I went at GLR, I heard spite about your teams and how “unfair” it was all day long. Is this really what you want?
Let me ask you something. How many teams out thier do people say are unfair. I can name a few that people normally say are unfair. I can name many that I have heard people say are unfair, but i'm not going to.

But heck even last year people complained about how us (229) and 217 collabrated. What exactly is unfair? I know personally, I full believe in what the Triplets are doing. It IS working for them whether or not people outside of thier teams believe it.

When I stopped by thier pit at GTR I was greeted by high school students. When I started talking to them about thier robot, it was high school students who told me. When i watched one of thier matches it was high school students cheering. Everywhere i looked around on of these 3 teams (1114, 1503, 1680) the high school students were energetically doing whatever they could to help thier team. This shows me that they were inspired. So just because people think that its unfair that they help each other out and find it easier to build 3 robots doesn't mean anything.

What is "unfair"? Isn't FIRST supposed to be about learning and inspiration? Well NiagaraFIRST has found a way to inspire students and i congratulate them on this achievement.

So my final thing to those on NiagaraFIRST. Thanks for fulfilling what FIRST is about, INSPIRATION.

Tim
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Unread 04-10-2006, 10:06 AM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

What is it about collaboration that appears to be unfair?

I think its two things:

1. You could have one big team with students from 3 or 4 schools, 30 or 40 mentors, tons of money. If that is one team then how many robots are they allowed to enter? One! Should we allow one big team to build three or 4 robots, pay 3 or 4 registration fees, and then have 3 or 4 robots at each regional they attend instead of only one per team? Clearly the more robots your 'team' enters into a competition the better the odds of one of them winning. When you have a collaboration across 3 schools from the outside it looks like one big team.

2. Competition. People keep saying winning is better for a team. This is an engineering design competition. When 3 teams collaborate they are not competing with each other. It become us vs them - the collaboration is us, and everyone else is them. No matter the rational used to justify the collaboration, when you compete against those teams it feels like they cheated.

We are emotional beings. We have an ingrained sense of fairness and fair play. You can rationalize all you want but if students from other teams feel like you are cheating or side-stepping the intent of the game, then that is how they feel.

You cant talk someone out of their feelings. A persons feelings are what they are. When three teams work together to compete against you then it feels like its 3 against one.

Last edited by KenWittlief : 04-11-2006 at 08:19 AM.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 05:31 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

I admire the extra efforts taken by collaborating teams to make sure their schools are each involved in the decisions being made during brainstorming, design, and build. This has got to complicate the build season when you have people at these different locations making decisions.

I empathize with those who are not sold on the collaboration idea, because of where it could lead. This is where we are counting on the great people who are running teams like 1114 to continue to do a great job of staying true to their goals of growing and inspiring without going too far.

I worry that if each team only has to do a fraction of a robot (i.e., you do the base, we'll do the arm, those other guys'll do the software) that it will be seen as a shortcut that gives collaborators an advantage and keeps the team from doing the complete set of elements that all the other teams are doing in this competition.

I would be willing to bet that many people who think collaboration is just fine would change their tune the first time that a team builds two complementary robots (instead of identical robots as we see now). Imagine if a team built one awesome shooter that docked with one awesome feeder-bot. The feeder bot has incredible storage capacity, pushing power, and a collaboratively-designed connection that locks the bots together and allows balls to flow right through. Not simple twins anymore. Siamese twins, one with great eye-hand coordination, and one who has lifted weights his whole life. Sure, you still have to have one of 'em (the "smart" one ) get to be a picker so it can pick the other one, but we know thats possible. You could call one bot "Gretzky" and the other "Semenko"
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Unread 04-10-2006, 05:39 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Winning is certainly a motivating factor, but I would be the last one to promote the trend of collaboration in order to create winning teams. If indeed collaboration becomes an economic requirement, in particular the automotive industry, than it doesn’t make it any better to act as this would be the best thing in the world. The German competition may even use this to their advantage, selling more BMW’s with their very individual design.
Here is another example, how a team can win, have fun, learn and become highly motivated.
Team 1414 evolved from one single student, who seeded the idea of FIRST into the Atlanta International School and a body of very individual, multi cultural and multi lingual students.
I had the pleasure of teaching and mentoring these students (15 in 2003/4) in ACAD, electronic and mechanical design, but also grew some gray hair by teaching some tool basics, as most of the students had never used any tools in their young lives. Thanks to other parent mentors and students, I had to learn to ease off in my German attitude to have everything perfect and aligned.
All students, regardless of their technical knowledge and the feasibility of their ideas were involved in the design concept. The prototype drove well forward, but failed miserably in turning. The final robot managed to cap a goal in one event, but the final result was the last place in the Peachtree regional.
After all, team 1414 was fortunate to win the rookie award and even the rookie all-star award in 2004.
With 30 team members in 2005, the team didn’t receive any awards and we don’t want to mention the place in the ranking of the Peachtree regional.
In this season the students designed and built the robot completely themselves.
I would love to get another rookie team going.
Team 1414, now a team of 45 students, did cut each piece of aluminum extrusion very carefully Ľ inch shorter than maximum dimension, but the completed robot didn’t fit the shipping box, because the robot didn’t end up to be square.
At the Peachtree regional, team 1414 succeeded to score all ten balls in the auto mode, ended up in second place in the ranking and won the regional event together with two other teams. On top of it, team 1414 won the Daimler Chrysler spirit award and the ACAD visualization award.
These students may never get any CNC tools in their shop and their robot will be lacking the sophistication of the triplets for example. Needless to say that these students are very happy about their success, they don’t care about the triplets at all.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 05:54 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Patton
people who think collaboration is just fine would change their tune the first time that a team builds two complementary robots (instead of identical robots as we see now). Imagine if a team built one awesome shooter that docked with one awesome feeder-bot. The feeder bot has incredible storage capacity, pushing power, and a collaboratively-designed connection that locks the bots together and allows balls to flow right through. Not simple twins anymore. Siamese twins, one with great eye-hand coordination, and one who has lifted weights his whole life. Sure, you still have to have one of 'em (the "smart" one ) get to be a picker so it can pick the other one, but we know thats possible. You could call one bot "Gretzky" and the other "Semenko"
I'd be fine with that, since such a robot would be useless at an actual competition. They'd only get paired together maybe 2-3 times during qualifying so they wouldn't make it to the top 8, and it would be practically impossible to pick both of them as part of your alliance because someone else would pick the other one before you do. Also, you'd be taking a pretty large risk picking the two of them as your alliance partners since you may have only seen them playing together 2-3 times.

Such a collaboration would be taking a ENORMOUS hit in practicality and chances-of-winning just so they can collaborate, which I doubt would anger anyone, and would be pretty cool to see in the few matches they'd have together.

Last edited by Bongle : 04-10-2006 at 05:56 PM.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 05:57 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
1. You could have one big team with students from 3 or 4 schools, 30 or 40 mentors, tons of money. If that is one team then how many robots are they allowed to enter? One! Should we allow one big team to build three or 4 robots, pay 3 or 4 registration fees, and then have 3 or 4 robots at each regional they attend instead of only one per team? Clearly the more robots your 'team' enters into a competition the better the odds of one of them winning. When you have a collaboration across 3 schools from the outside it looks like one big team.
Yes, it does increase the chances of winning. That cannot be argued. I've said this before, and I'll say it again, that's not why we did this. The reason we collaborated was to give 3 times as many students a chance to have direct ownership over a robot. We could have had one large multi high school team, and I know many teams are successful that way. We felt that this route was better utilization of our resources, to maximize the inspiration process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
2. Competition. People keep saying winning is better for a team. This is a competition. When 3 teams collaborate they are not competing with each other. It become us vs them - the collaboration is us, and everyone else is them. No matter the rational used to justify the collaboration, when you compete against those teams it feels like they cheated.
Yes we are competing against each other. If you saw 1114 tip over 1503 in the semis of the 2005 Waterloo Regional, you might understand this. If you saw 1680 & 1114 pushing each other in the finals of the 2006 GTR, you might understand this. Yes the teams collaborate during the season, but on the field it is a direct competition and nothing else.




Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
We are emotional beings. We have an ingrained sense of fairness and fair play. You can rationalize all you want but if students from other teams feel like you are cheating or side-stepping the intent of the game, then that is how they feel.
Okay, I'm getting sick of this line of logic. Collaboration is fully permitted within the rules. We understand that many people do not like this, or accept it. Many teams feel we are cheating. Just like many student-only teams feel like mentor driven teams are cheating as well. Does that mean the mentor driven teams should stop what they're doing? No!!! You can't please all the people all the time. The rationale of "lots of people don't like it" is not a reason to stop doing it. FIRST has publicly come out and condoned collaboration. It is 100% legal. I'm all for a discussion of the pros and cons of collaboration. I want to hear why other teams don't think it's right. But saying that we should stop something that has enriched the lives of students and spread the word of FIRST because it's upsetting a vocal minority is ludicrous. There will always be people who don't like how certain teams operate. This is a certainty. It's up to the teams to look within themselves, and make sure they're okay with the way they run. As long as that standard is met, then proceed as planned.
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Last edited by Karthik : 04-10-2006 at 06:00 PM.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 06:12 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
Should we allow one big team to build three or 4 robots, pay 3 or 4 registration fees, and then have 3 or 4 robots at each regional they attend instead of only one per team? Clearly the more robots your 'team' enters into a competition the better the odds of one of them winning. When you have a collaboration across 3 schools from the outside it looks like one big team.
There are precedents for multiple teams from one school. Consider Goodrich HS (70, 494) or Emery CI (1219, 1309). By accepting their money, not just once, but several times, FIRST is pretty clearly open to this sort of arrangement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
When 3 teams collaborate they are not competing with each other. It become us vs them - the collaboration is us, and everyone else is them. No matter the rational used to justify the collaboration, when you compete against those teams it feels like they cheated.
That's totally subjective—you feel cheated, but that's only because you aren't necessarily privy to the structure and organization of the team. In the case of NiagaraFIRST, they have explicitly decided to compete with one other on the field—and off the field, apart from having very similar robots, they act just as any other group of friendly teams would; that is to say, they share resources.

Maybe it feels like cheating, to some interested observers; but is it cheating? Is it even a violation of some indeterminate intent? I certainly don't see anything in the rules (of this year's competition, or any prior one, for that matter) to conclude that it is even remotely close to cheating. Similarly, every indication from FIRST (with regard to their intent) has either been neutral or supportive of these collaborations—where's the violation?
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Unread 04-10-2006, 06:23 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

The topic is, go out and multiply, you will have more fun, you will inspire more students. If we can do it you can too. I agree with the Chairman Award winning team that started this post. I also look forward to competing with and against them. At Martian head quarters we do not have the wonderful facilities that the Triplets have (and we still multiplied). We have a band saw and a drill press that we restored and brought into the school. Any machined parts that you see on our robot were not made at our build site. We still plan on giving them a run for their money and look forward to seeing their great teams at the Championship. Be not afraid, go forth and multiply.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 06:29 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Isn't it funny how we always think the other guy is the vocal minority. I'm certainly guilty of it. I really wish I knew the numbers on how the FIRST community as a whole views the manufacturing alliance / design alliance / four identical robots brand of collaboration.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 06:36 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Patton (emphasis added)
I empathize with those who are not sold on the collaboration idea, because of where it could lead. This is where we are counting on the great people who are running teams like 1114 to continue to do a great job of staying true to their goals of growing and inspiring without going too far.
What worries me is those cooperatives that might surface who might not follow these ideals. To whom is a collaborative alliance accountable with respect to Ken's statement? Going back to the idea I borrowed from international relations in my earlier post (sorry if you feel a whoosh), on a team this accountability is to FIRST, its ideals, other teams, and its own constituent students and mentors. As a unitary actor in FIRST's eyes, there are quantifiable sanctions for not acting properly. As we create a new level of analysis (that is, the cooperative alliance level), this becomes very blurry and relies more upon the responsibility of those in charge of the alliance. We can all conceive of a cooperative that has 6 teams that go to the same regional, each of whom having six weeks to design only a small fraction of the robot, each of whom pairs up only with another in the finals, where they all face each other. This would be terrible, and would create a huge compulsion for teams to start picking sides (I suppose for rookies I could liken this to the woes of new inmates). Still, my concerns are mainly functional; will teams still have the holistic educational value they used to under this new model? At this very moment, my inclination is to say there are numerous forces that point collaborative alliances away from this, especially if we try to grow into the model with haste.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Patton
I would be willing to bet that many people who think collaboration is just fine would change their tune the first time that a team builds two complementary robots (instead of identical robots as we see now). Imagine if a team built one awesome shooter that docked with one awesome feeder-bot. The feeder bot has incredible storage capacity, pushing power, and a collaboratively-designed connection that locks the bots together and allows balls to flow right through. Not simple twins anymore. Siamese twins, one with great eye-hand coordination, and one who has lifted weights his whole life. Sure, you still have to have one of 'em (the "smart" one ) get to be a picker so it can pick the other one, but we know thats possible. You could call one bot "Gretzky" and the other "Semenko"
This goes slightly beyond the scope of this thread so I'll be as brief as I can muster. I would argue that the complemetary robot possibility is definitely one of the most intriguing possibilities that might occur, and is one that has not been fully realized. I'd further argue it's fundamentally different from simply sharing an identical design as the Triplets do, because in theory one would only have to neccesarily share and standardize certain dimensions and characteristics while perhaps keeping other aspects unique and/or secret. Teams could cooperate on a very limited basis in terms of design but on a wide scale in terms of participants, and this is just another one of the many side effects we are bound to come across in the future that compel me to reserve judgment on any sort of inter-team collusion and by extension Mr. Rourke's call.

Indeed, people might argue it will further perpetuate a two-tier system of elite versus 'normal' teams. Perhaps it would be too difficult to implement as Bongle suggested, but I disagree. My personal thoughts on the matter go as follows: I see this new mentality of collaboration as an opportunity. If a few teams were to standardize some mechanism in the first two weeks of the build period, robots that were paired up and followed this regime would be at a decisive advantage, and this is easier to pull off than some might think. I had a defeated idea on my team to make a not-very-mobile but accurate shooter that could plant in position and had receptacles for balls that were similar in size to the corner goals; such a design did one thing very well, and would make all corner goal bots (that is in general, rookie bots) potential shooters and eliminate the possiblity of the opponents shutting them down on D. It was very easy to do in this game, but in a more involved game (say next year's), a collaborative alliance clearly could be beneficial to rookies in this manner without 'giving away' a robot design. This thread is about using collaboration as a means to draw in rookies, and I've just presented one of many possible ways this can be done. Again, this is an opportunity, but I'm not entirely sure just yet whether it's a good one.
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Unread 04-10-2006, 06:54 PM
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Re: The Triplet Challenge

One question. Why do people assume identical robots, no matter how good they are, are the best alliance structure?
1114 picked 1503 at their regionals, because as mentioned by Karthik, they had the best fit for their alliance. In 2005, they did not pick 1503 or 1680, why?, because they did not fit their alliance as well.
3 amazing robots != 1 amazing alliance
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