Originally Posted by DampRobot
Keep in mind that one of the reasons the "elite" teams don't worry about manufacturing is they don't have to. Most elite teams have access to sophisticated CNC machinery, which eliminates most difficulties associated with tolerances, weight and manufacturing weird shapes.
In my mind, the major difference between "powerhouse" teams and the rest of us comes from fast machining ability. It's not like they are all geniuses (or at least not much more so than the rest of teams). They just have more time than the rest of us, more experience than the rest of us, and better tools than the rest of us.
What I think that you are leaving out of your assessment is the recognition of the ability to think and solve problems like an engineer. Skill sets that continue to adjust and adapt to the challenges provided by FRC, continue to fortify the strengths of the teams. The wise use and applications of those skill sets are what you can see missing as a feature on the field. Any field. Pick a field. You'll see that feature missing.