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Unread 08-21-2001, 10:07 AM
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Question Who built your robot?

Let me first start out by saying that this posting is not written to offend or single out any one team. If it does, I'm sorry.

I've been thinking about this subject for a long time and I would like to know how you all feel about it.
During the regionals and nationals I kept hearing about how some of the robots were built entirely by the engineers and the students just learned how to run them.
I do not consider this fair to the students. They are the main reason F.I.R.S.T. was founded. What does the student learn from having the robot built by someone else? NOTHING!
I think the students should have a major share in the building of the bot. Oh, there are some thing that the engineers may have to do. On our bot an engineer did most of the TIG welding because none of the students could do it. Next year we have a couple of students that can weld, so they will.
Our robot was designed and built mostly by the students. The engineers helped with the hard tasks.
I know there is nothing in the rules about how much the engineers can do, but common sense should win out.
That's my opinion and I will stick to it.
Any comments, pro/con, would be appreciated.

*puts on asbestos underwear and prepares for the worst

Again, if I have offended anyone, I'm sorry.
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Unread 08-21-2001, 10:53 AM
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I've heard that same statement made many many times. This has been particularly leveled at some teams (who shall remain nameless). My general opinion of this is that it's not based in truth. My personal belief is that these teams just do a better job of having students work together with engineers in order to create a better robot. Perhaps it's not true but I see little insentive to do anything else.

Matt
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Unread 08-21-2001, 11:11 AM
Jessica Boucher Jessica Boucher is offline
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Well.....

Two ways I feel about this:

1.) Andrew Rudolph showed me this link once of an independent listing of worldwide robotics competitions. FIRST was listed as "Texas BEST with engineers building the robots instead of the students".

2.) In 2000, when I was walking Dean around the VIP area, one of the VIPs inquired him about "students not building the robots, like the Delphi teams". Dean replied, "But, if I walked into the pits of any of those Delphi teams, and asked any of the students about the robot, they could explain every inch of it. Learning is important, not whether they built it or not".

Now, he may have changed his opinion about it, but....that is what Ive heard about that subject.
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Unread 08-21-2001, 02:52 PM
Dave Hurt Dave Hurt is offline
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I have to agree with Jessica. Back when I was with 308, not every student helped out with building the robot anyways. Students did help, but there's more to the competition then building the robot. Also have to remember, when it gets down to the crunch time, the engineers did most of the work because they worked on the robot around the clock, while the students still had to go to school. At least that's how it ended up with us.

- Dave
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Unread 08-21-2001, 03:44 PM
Carolyn Duncan Carolyn Duncan is offline
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On my old team the students did just about everything, which showed. The engineer help we had was minimal with respect to them actually building the robot. For the most part they were there over our shoulders to watch what we did and help if they saw something going wrong but they didn't take over teh project. The only part of the robot that was built mostly by engineers didn't work well with the rest of the bot so it became a hassle to us.
As far as teams having engineers build their entire bots: I don't particularly care for that. Sure they might be able to learn about everything that the engineers did and be able to regurgitate the info but they loose out on the hands on working with the parts and engineers as well as having an engineer looking over their shoulder to help.
Just my $0.02
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Unread 08-21-2001, 03:54 PM
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Talking

Back in high school, certain students got to do certain jobs.. based mostly on your shown dedication towards the team and willingness to undertake tasks. However, it was often a lot of "go cut this to this and this length". I had the benefit of being allowed to take on and figure out tasks on my own, but I know the others had experiences the other way.

My freshman year in college at BU the students were eager to learn and build stuff-- and they did everything they could. But when many had a 2hour or more ride home on a couple trains and buses, their hours in the shop were minimal. We did our best to save the major tasks for the hours they were there though. It wasn't the best robot ever built, but they took pride in their contributions to it.

Presently on 190, much of the responsibility regarding the completion of jobs lies with college students. However, any kids that are they are always given work to do and taught how to use every machine. No matter how often they come to the shop, they can always jump in to help with building and creating.

Personally- I once had the perspective that many people have.. that i would NEVER want to be on a team where I didn't get to participate in building.. these teams, most often this stereotype is applied to Delphi teams, didn't do anything for the kids--

But if you ever spend the time to talk to kids from these teams, they learn so much. FIRST has literally changed the world where these kids come from and teaches them that LEARNING is important- not just learning how drill motors work, but algebra, english, physics, etc etc. The kids are pushed to focus on getting themselves educated with FIRST as an enhancement to that education. And they are usually expected to know how every aspect of the robot works and understand the concepts behind it.

Sometimes you get teams that students do it all.. and they spend so much time just trying to get the robot to work that they never have the time to be taught why it doesn't.

FIRST is about inspiration. How you choose to inspire is simply that, a choice. I bet the kids on of these 'engineer-built' teams know more about robotics in a year or two than I have learned in 6. I was inspired though- to do better, go to a technical college, and enter the work-force with a (somewhat) science-related job.

FIRST is about the students.. and to some kids, just showing them that this world exists and helping them understand that they can be part of it is inspiration enough.

That's respectable to me. Not every kid can leave every night with grease under there fingernails. But not every kids wants to either.

Accolades to everyone who's team inspires at least one kid to go into science and technology.. or renews on adult's feelings about why they entered the field in the first place ... or makes on kid who wouldn't have gone to college go.. or the team that allows a little hands on learning.. or the team that made their kids get their grades up before they could partake.. and on and on and on..

Inspiration is a wonderful thing.
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Unread 08-21-2001, 03:56 PM
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I think that this is a very interesting subject to discuss. First of all, I am one of the Engineers on our team 470/Alpha Omega Robotics and I am a huge supporter of having the students do as much of the robot as possible. This includes design and build. For our team, conceptualization is done relativly equally across the team of adults and students. As for the actual design, this is probably right now 75% adult (with hopes to decrease this with student experience). Part fabrication right now is about 75% student on easy to medium difficulty parts and vise-versa for difficult parts. Actual assembaly and wiring is over 80% student, and programming was 99% student. The students may use slighty different numbers, but they are pretty close. There are some adjustments that we hope to make in these numbers as adults and students learn to use more advanced fabrication equipment and become more familiar with the engineering design process (we're kinda young - we recently completed our second year). I am very dissapointed to see teams that have robots that are almost totally built by adults. You don't need to be a genius to figure out which robots these are! It is great to say that the students are learning and are knowing their robot top to bottom. But to actually create the part and know what it takes to get to that finished part is worth so much more. I know too many adult engineers in the "real world" that design things without having knowledge of what it truely takes to make it beyond - mold it, machine it, stamp it, etc. and this is a huge downfall on their part. This is the perfect opportunity for students to know exactly what it takes, because they made it! Well, I'll get off my soapbox now, but I am a strong supporter of keeping this as much for the students as possible - we are merely facilitators for their creativity!

Scott
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Unread 08-21-2001, 04:39 PM
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I feel that it is very important to incorporate the kids into the design and building process since it is the whole point of FIRST to inspire and teach kids about science. My team for years has had students in the machine shop working on the robot from when school got out until our machinist got tired and kicked us out for the night. You learn so much by actually being there and doing, the feelign oyu have looking at a completed robot that YOU MADE was enough to make me take a look at my priorities in what my decisions on colleges were. Until i joined FIRST all I cared about was getting into a good soccer school, I never once thought about the academics involved (sad, sad, sad). But once I got to work hands on the robot with the engineers helping us out and giving us instruction I decided to go to a good engineerign school so one day I could to work with high school kids in a great program like FIRST. Then my team took a turn for the worse, our engineers decided to build the robot WITHOUT us, I was crushed. Many of my teammates, including me, took six weeks off of work so we could build our robot. Instead our engineers worked on it alone, never includidng us in their plans. If I hadn't know a better program was once at my high school and I wasn't captain, I would have quit, I felt so bad for all the freshman, this made me not want to do robotics anymore, next year, we are sponsorless, but we'll make it, our team has heart and dedication from all the years WE MADE our robot, not from engineers not working with us on a robot.
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Unread 08-21-2001, 05:07 PM
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Student / Engineer Input

(Side note: Hey Dave - nice to hear from you. What ever happened to hockey?)

For our team, the design is about 75%/25% in favor of the engineers. We try to get the students involved as much as possible but the limited math/science background eliminates them from being able to do things that require a higher level of math and science (for instance, this past year's robot required about 2 pages of math to determine if our balance system would work. In the end, most of the students could understand the math but none of the students could do it themselves). However, when we do design, we always explain it to whichever student(s) are working with the engineer doing the design so that the students understand what is going on. As far as CAD work goes, most of that is done by the students. The engineers generally do analysis and make hand sketches. Then typically a student (but sometimes and engineer if we run out of student time) does the CAD drawings and checks for interferences, etc.

The fabrication is about 50-50. It starts out at about 80%/20% in favor of the students, but when crunch time comes around, it is about 80%/20% in favor of engineers. The reason, as Dave Hurt pointed out, is that the engineers will work until about 11:00 every night during the week and until about 2 a.m. or so on the weekends. We would get in trouble if we required the students to be there for all of that time. We tell the students that if they want to show up and help, they are more than welcome (and some do), but most of the students have homework and their parents won't allow them to be out that late.

I'll also point out that not all of the students on our team work with the robot. Some work on animation and the business side of the team.

Personally, it is my view that a student working with an engineer to solve a complex problem is much more inspiring than just having the student build a robot through trial-and-error. The inspiration comes from seeing how the math and science are used to solve the big problem, and that big problems can be tackled in a systematic fashion.
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Unread 08-21-2001, 05:22 PM
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Team 45...

On my team (45) the students do a lot of the robot building....which is really cool and REALLY fun....when we get new students this year we will train and show them how to use all the tools in our shop so they can also help build the robot in the upcoming season... last season we even had a student design and build the entire gripper system that was used during the regional in Grand Rapids...


I also think that students should help as much as possible since building the robot is one of the most important things you do during the season....and if you dont help build it i believe u dont get the same feeling out of competing...

(Andy if u read this and think i left anything special out, help me)
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Unread 08-21-2001, 08:30 PM
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I rember from kickoff from this year Dean said gomthing about this topic, correct me if im wrong, He sid somthing along the lines of "FIRST is about students working with the engineers, not nessesarily building the whole robot, but learning alongside them as they build the machines and help when they can" Like i said i may be rembering it worng, someone correct me if i am.


Andrew
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Unread 08-21-2001, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Andrew Rudolph
I rember from kickoff from this year Dean said gomthing about this topic, correct me if im wrong, He sid somthing along the lines of "FIRST is about students working with the engineers, not nessesarily building the whole robot, but learning alongside them as they build the machines and help when they can" Like i said i may be rembering it worng, someone correct me if i am.


Andrew
you're exactly right. i remember him saying that too
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Unread 08-21-2001, 08:36 PM
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$0.02.....

I like "students building a lot of the robots with engineers helping/teaching/coaching along the way"....
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Unread 08-21-2001, 09:31 PM
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Coming from a team based in a very very small school (think 400 kids in grades 9-12), and limited funding, our students build most all of the bot. Starting out with a weeklong brainstorm in small groups, our team then comes together to get the best design possible. Our engineers were fantastic, ever before the season, they come in and run usthrough mini-labs to gie us the skills we will need for the upcoming season. They taught us everything we needed to know, they were the supervisors that made sure we didnt totally mess up each task, and helped out when necessary. By the time regionals rolled around, everyone could go over the robot inch by inch.

Whether or not each team has the engineers build the robot, or if the students do it, wat matters is that the students learn . The skills that we learn, not the robot, are what we will take with us from our experiance from FIRST.

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Unread 08-21-2001, 10:44 PM
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Re: Team 45...

Quote:
Originally posted by Clark Gilbert

(Andy if u read this and think i left anything special out, help me)
You got it, Clark. I'll add some.

We've come a long way. I'm going to write a lot on this subject, so bear with me.

In 1992, our robot was built by UAW skilled tradesmen in the shop at Delco Electonics... many overtime hours, much $$ on labor spent. The students were handed the robot at the end of 5 weeks (we started a week late).

In 2001, here is the make-up of how our robot was...

Built: 80-90% was built by students. The remainder was built by engineers, parents, and teachers. Some of these adults know more about fabricating parts than our students, and some know less. Even the most difficult parts (dual motor drive assembly) was made by students, 100%. The people who put together, debugged, and repaired this assembly were mostly students (the Gilberts, by the way). Only about 8-10 hours of "professional" help was needed for our robot by the UAW skilled trades guys at Delphi (4 shafts pinned and 2 chains welded).

Concepted: Our entire team comes up with concepts for the robot, much like many teams. We actually split up into 4 sub-teams to come up with our robot concept.

Designed: 10-15% of our robot was designed by students. This year, our lead student designer (Phil Lundberg) led a team of students who designed the gripper system on SolidEdge CAD, generated prints, and managed the fabrication and assembly of these two subassemblies.
... The majority of the robot was mechanically designed by 2 engineers. An entire print package was created and students could see how machines are supposed to be designed.

Programmed and wired: This is probably our weakest area with regard to student involvement. Our students wire about 30-40% of the robot, and do less with regard to programming... BUT we are going through a change with that. Last year, only 1 student was interested in programming, and we have 3 freshmen coming in who want to focus on software development. Also, our electrical lead student is returning, and he learned alot last year.

As for the generalization that the Delphi teams don't have student involvement... that is ridiculus. Our students are tested on the game, the robot and our team history. Along with building the majority of the robot, they are expected to give demonstrations and give back to their community. Actually, this year, they will be creating a robotic project which helps special needs children in the Kokomo community... and they will be in charge of the project.

FIRST is not a science fair, and it's not called FERST. Education is not the same as inspiration, as colleen wisely pointed out above.

For the teams who make robots which are 100% student designed and built, I greatly respect you. But, I also challenge you to go out and ask a few engineers this: "We want to learn about technology and engineering from you... will you please help us?"

Andy B.

Last edited by Andy Baker : 08-21-2001 at 11:13 PM.
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