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Unread 09-24-2001, 09:25 PM
Kyle Hill Kyle Hill is offline
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2002 Season Thoughts..

Here's my brief opinion on this, after looking over the FIRST Robotics 2002 Competition schedule...

My team was lucky and got a rather generous grant from the school board this year for our Robotics program, basically paying for all entrance fees/robot parts and leaving any additional fundraising to compensate for travel/hotel rooms and other miscellaneous costs that come from going far distances with 75 other high school students. We thought that, should we meet or exceed our funds from last year, we would be able to attend probably three local Regionals and the Nationals (which I will always refer to them as) in either Texas or Disney World.

Good news: Nationals are in Disney World like we wanted them to be.
Bad news: No chance in hell we're going under this system.

Think of it this way: We can possibly stretch and attend Regionals on Weeks 1 (Langley), 2 (Long Island), 3 (New York City), and 5 (Hartford or Toronto). We might pull off a stunner and win a happy blue banner, or steal a Chairman's or Quality award. And even if we do, in the first Regional, we have a team of 75 kids + 20 adults, one of those "model FIRST programs" that the foundation always tries to promite, so making travel plans and hotel reservations for almost one hundred people on seven weeks' notice is near impossible. Doing it after Week Five would be.

So even if we win, chances are it would be an empty prize.

But assume we could go, and the magic of people cancelling flights en masse in the aftermath of 9/11 lend itself to our cause allowing us to get hotel rooms and travel arrangements. How do we pay for this, then?

There are two attitudes you can take with this issue, and both quite frankly stink.

The Optimist - Fundraise like hell for both the Regionals and the Nationals, and pray that you do well in both. Yet, if you come up short, you now have an exorbitant amount of money from students, sponsors, and possibly the school in surplus that should be paid back.

The Pessimist - Admit that even though you got to the Semifinals of last years Regionals, chances are you aren't going to enough to sneak your way in. Don't fundraise for Nationals, or do what our advisors are considering and fundraise to take a trip to an "exotic" Regional on the side of the country. Then what happens if you win, though, and you have no funding to send most, if any, of your team, to Nationals? It will sting you forever, especially those who are graduating seniors.

It's a lose-lose situation, because you're hoping against hope for a victory in a cutthroat situation (read: WESTERN MICHIGAN) or you're secretly hoping for a defeat.

And remember, East Islip is one of those model FIRST programs. We're involved in the community, we mentor other teams, we have a very diverse, large portion of the student body and the faculty of EIHS involved in the team. We have a grant from our school board, and even in time of economic crisis, connnections with local companies who may still help us out.

What happens to those small teams, the sophmore organizations who don't have the connections with lots of money, the rookie teams with only one Regional - hell, many experienced teams with only one Regional accessable - the teams who haven't won National Chairman's Awards or weren't lucky enough to be drafted by the "good" alliance at Disney 2K1? What happens to the teams who can't move up in the FIRST ranks because it's so $@#$@#$@#$@# cluttered at the peak?

*****

But forget all that. Take the most optimistic approach possible. Say we win. Say we win in the first week but since we have to fly out of New York - and man, everyone flies out of New York - we can only send 10 or 20 people. Because that's the most likely situation.

Who, then? Do we send just a skeleton crew like some teams will have to do, just the operators, a mechanic, and a couple of coaches? Do we leave behind the people who built the robot, the people who programmed it, the people who put together the Chairman's Award presentation that came in third, the people who do Autodesk, the people who do everything but play with joysticks?

So then they don't go to Nationals. They miss out on FIRST Robotics at Disney, they miss out on what I found to be the greatest experience of my life in any way related to education, they miss out on what I and many others consider to be something that I'll remember about my youth for the rest of my life.

FIRST is a great thing. Don't ruin it.

But that's just my opinion.

-Kyle Hill, Team 311
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Unread 09-25-2001, 06:40 PM
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Jeff Waegelin Jeff Waegelin is offline
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One comment on "skeleton crews" My team has never sent more than 15 students to Nats. Granted, our team is only about 25 people, but it is possible to get by with a small crew.
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Unread 09-30-2001, 10:06 PM
nick reynolds nick reynolds is offline
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Its in a nut shell...

Kyle. It was a pleasure reading your post and you summed it up to a tee. FIRST is what it is because of all of the hard and dedication by many individuals who volunteer their valuable time and skill.
It seems to me that to FIRST none of this has any value and again I feel were being treated like sheep. We the People have no say in this (OUR) competition for without "US" there is no competition.
Our team is an Odd# and we have no points, we werent in the 1992 competition nor have we won any chairmans awards but even if we did and were a shoe in for next year I would feel the same way. If by some mirical we should get into next years game and if another mirical happened and we were to win the Nationals then I would like to know that out team had won against all the teams in FIRST and not just a selected few.
Thats my .02c
Thanks Kyle.
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Unread 10-01-2001, 10:54 AM
Drew Krause Drew Krause is offline
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Kyle I couldn't agree with you more. My team is an odd number and has very limited money. We have no gaurantees of getting to the nationals and my coaches are all doing what they can do try and get us into a bunch of regionals so we have a shot at qualifying for nationals, but like you said, travel plans will be tuff. As a graduating senior I was deeply disapointed to hear these new restrictions. Last year at Disney was one of the most fun times of my life. So what if my team didn't win. I had fun and grew in my love for technology. And thats what FIRST is supposed to be about. Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology. I don't know how inspiring the competition will be for all the kids who have to hear, "Sorry, We weren't good enough to go to Disney this year". But I'm just one voice.

Drew 109
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Unread 10-01-2001, 12:58 PM
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ColleenShaver ColleenShaver is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Drew Krause
So what if my team didn't win. I had fun and grew in my love for technology. And thats what FIRST is supposed to be about. Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.
Drew 109
You hit the nail on the head right there.

That is what FIRST is about- it's not about winning. It's about fun, learning, and learning to love technology.

You don't need Disneyworld to do that.. for that matter you don't even need a competition- you just need to participate in building..

And why can't you do that at a regional. You can, just easily and, as most of us in FIRST would say, to a great level.

I love Disneyworld- but I'd much rather a regional because of the atmosphere. But that's all social and truly irrelevent. The process itself is not hindered by lack of a Championship experience.

It doesn't change any of the late nights in the shop. It doesn't change "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey"; it doesn't effect how a mill or a lathe will work nor will it effect how well your robot works at the end of the 6 weeks. Or the blood, sweat, and tears you put in to that beauty. And most of all it doesn't change what you learn or the experience you have. Those engineers that help you are still your heroes. They still can do amazing things, and so can each and every student.

And no one needs Disneyworld to tell them that. Just look around you.
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Unread 10-01-2001, 06:08 PM
nick reynolds nick reynolds is offline
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Colleen, You missed the part at the end of the Nail on the head statement......
" I don't know how inspiring the competition will be for all the kids who have to hear, "Sorry, We weren't good enough to go to Disney this year". But I'm just one voice ".
He was being sarcastic and hes right about not going to Florida, its a great shame to tell students that after all their hard work that they will now be banned from the prize they have worked so hard for. We were encouraged to spread the word about FIRST and we all did our part to get more and more teams to join, and because of the teams doing their part so well we are now deligated to only join the full fun every other year, unless your a "SELECTIVE" Team.
I guess its easy to be "UP" If your an even # team this year, but your out of luck if your an odd#. Dean Needs to rethink this whole Idea or teams will start dropping out.
As for teams that are struggling to make the funds to go and would have a real problem collecting an extra few hundred $$$, its got to be easier to fund raise a few $$$ than the FIVE points need to go to Florida.
The Regionals are only a taste of the Nationals and in my oppinion are just to test your Robot for the main event...... FLORIDA.
Nick 237
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Unread 10-01-2001, 06:38 PM
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Matt Leese Matt Leese is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by nick reynolds
Colleen, You missed the part at the end of the Nail on the head statement......
" I don't know how inspiring the competition will be for all the kids who have to hear, "Sorry, We weren't good enough to go to Disney this year". But I'm just one voice ".
He was being sarcastic and hes right about not going to Florida, its a great shame to tell students that after all their hard work that they will now be banned from the prize they have worked so hard for. We were encouraged to spread the word about FIRST and we all did our part to get more and more teams to join, and because of the teams doing their part so well we are now deligated to only join the full fun every other year, unless your a "SELECTIVE" Team.
I guess its easy to be "UP" If your an even # team this year, but your out of luck if your an odd#. Dean Needs to rethink this whole Idea or teams will start dropping out.
As for teams that are struggling to make the funds to go and would have a real problem collecting an extra few hundred $$$, its got to be easier to fund raise a few $$$ than the FIVE points need to go to Florida.
The Regionals are only a taste of the Nationals and in my oppinion are just to test your Robot for the main event...... FLORIDA.
Nick 237
Since when is Disney World the prize? If people truly think Disney is the prize, then they really need to reevaulate their priorities. FIRST is not about nationals. FIRST is not about Disney world. FIRST is about inspiring students. And there are better ways than "build a robot and we'll go to Disney world." To me, the important part about FIRST is building the robot. The competition is just icing on the cake and something to make the building worthwhile. And just because I don't get to go to Nationals doesn't mean I'm going to think FIRST is bust. Guess what, I've been there before (1998). It's not the end of the world. And my old team's been in the competition every year since. They didn't fall apart because they couldn't go to Nationals for two years (1997 and 1998; wasn't expecting to go in 1999 either). Instead, it made us work harder and try harder so that we could earn the right to go. Maybe some of those teams that are spoiled by always having a trip to Florida will learn a bit about being so self-centered this year.

Matt
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Unread 10-01-2001, 07:55 PM
Andy A. Andy A. is offline
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Granted, FIRST is about fun and inspiration among students, and even engineers.

That said, winning is fun, Disney World is fun, and team parties are fun. I don't blame people for a moment when they are a little angry about this situation.

I like the build time, but really, the carrot for a lot of teams is the game in Florida. Lets face it, working in a machine shop till 9 every night is fun, but being surrounded by thousands of people who love this thing as much as you do tops it all.

Chances are, team 95 wont be going to Florida unless we turn out a really good ''bot and win some awards.

But is that a bad thing? It will certainly motivate me to work even harder and assure that our team gets it's shot at success. In the long run, I think were going to see an increase in the quality of the 'bots, just like having 6 weeks instead of 8 makes us work harder and in the end, turn out a better product. This is just another challenge from FIRST for us to overcome, I have no doubt teams will rise to it.

-Andy
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Unread 10-02-2001, 12:56 AM
nick reynolds nick reynolds is offline
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You miss the point, Disney is NOT the prize, Disney just happens to be where the Nationals are held. The prize is compeeting against ALL the other teams in the world REGARDLESS OF WHERE IT IS.
The Competition is fun for me, seing a years worth of hard work and dedication come together with a fine tuned and trained team of enthusiastic students.
Disney has no fun for me, each year I sell my tickets on Ebay. I have only been to one party and the food stunk.
I had to laugh at the "working in a machine shop till 9pm can be fun ". I wish...
There are times that I have been in the work shop untill 3 and 4 am and thats an early night, keep in mind that I have to work in the morning.
There are times that I have worked 52 hours non stop to help get our machine ready. I dont concider working 52 hours straight FUN But when it all come together its very rewarding.
Our team of students work untill 10 pm and then they are forced to go home, its not their choice but the teams rules. some students and adults im sure have no idea as to the amount of hours our small team of engineers work but we do it for the students.
We use the regionals to test and fine tune our drivers for the Nationals and for me to see the comradere of thousands of students and adults in the stands in Florida is what makes it all worth while.
I have never felt cheated in a game, win or loose the excitement is the reward, A regional is not the same, its only an apetiser for things to come.
Florida is where we get to see the designs of ALL the teams not the selected few and all the Odd# Teams. I want to see them all in person.
This is my reward, it should be yours too. and what hapens in a few years from now if FIRST CONTINUES TO GROW, Will we begin to only get the chance to go to the nationals every four years ( like in the Olympics).
All teams should have the chance to go to the Nationals with or without 5 points, or some juges award or even some special place in Deans heart meaning those who were First in FIRST.
IF YOU PAY YOU PLAY, SIMPLE AS THAT.
NICK237
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