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View Poll Results: What do you think?
Teams should only be allowed to attend 1 regional. 13 6.40%
Teams should be allowed to attend as many regionals as they want. (status quo) 114 56.16%
We should strive to have every team attend at least 2 regionals. 76 37.44%
Voters: 203. You may not vote on this poll

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Unread 04-06-2005, 10:45 PM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nobrakes8
With the amount of money it costs, I wish FIRST would include two regionals with their registration fee. Like this year it cost $6,000 to register for the KOP and 1 regional, I bet a lot of people would rather pay $8,000 for the KOP and 2 regionals, then $4,000 for every regional after those.
Registration is only half the battle. Then you have to worry about hotels, transportation, food, promotional materials, and other.. well.. stuff.
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Unread 04-06-2005, 11:03 PM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

My only real comment to add to all of this, is that going to multiple regionals is ALL about budgeting. We got our team to 3 regionals and nationals, with the same amount of money that I know most teams use for one regional and nationals. If you make really good estimates, keep close watch on your budgets, do some major deal hunting, suck it up and do some fundraising, you can make it to multiple events. It takes a HECK of a lot of organization, but it can be done.

And our kids/parents have raised almost $7,000 this year, and we only started at the end of october 04 (imagine what they can do with a whole summer!).

Now I know there are a lot of little teams out in the middle of nowhere, and this isnt as applicable to them... but there are ways... NASA offers grants for your first event, so take that, and fundraise more for a second event. One of our carwashes yielded $500... 8 of those would put us at a second regional. Stay with other teams!! There are 16 teams in the rochester area... im certain our great rochester teams could find a way to house another team if it helped that team get to another competition. AND more teams need to look at traveling together... we sent a 49 passenger bus to Cleveland with 15 people on it... granted we found a really good deal, but we EASILY could have split that bus with another team.

But to answer the question in this thread, I am obviously for multiple events. Our team has grown in leaps and bounds over the last three events... especially for a rookie team. I see the kids taking in something new every time, learning a little bit more about it... There is just something about competition that solidifies the entire experience. And traveling together often helps the team bond... when you can all run to your own rooms in the school its a lot different than being locked on a bus together!

And can anyone answer, does anyone know teams who actually use the "drive team meathod"?? I know I've heard teams talk about it, and oftentimes teams will bring reduced numbers to one event, but ive NEVER seen a team send 3 kids and 7 mentors when its a team of 40 normally.
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Unread 04-06-2005, 11:48 PM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

I think that the number of regionals attended should be much more balanced. I'm on a rookie team, and I'm sure that my views will change, but I see that there are some "superteams" who go to three, four regionals and win several of those, and then go to Championships. I also see many teams discussing how to organize fundraisers because they barely have the money to make their own regionals, or, much rarer, haveing to see if they can afford to attend Cahmpionships. I know that my own team would have had a problem like that if we hadn't recieved help from Turner, who sponsors rookies (fortunately for us, we're in Atlanta and don't have to worry about Championshp, not so for everyone.... ). I think that, while is is great to go to a FIRST competition, and must be even better to go to many of them, teams should help other teams that are not as fortunate as them, instead of maxing out on regionals. While I know that this is an unralistic view, and impossible (not to mention unethical) to enforce, it seems that in FIRST, which has the most sportmanship and teamwork of any organization I have ever seem, this should be second nature, a few (ok, a good many) steps up from lending the team in the next pit some tools.

Another thing that deserves to be metioned that relates to this is when teams go to different regionals and sweep the awards at all of them. Is there a rule that limits this? If not, there should be a rule that limits how many special awards (awards that do not pertain to actual gameplay) a team can win at regionals other that their home regional.

P.S. Sorry about any spelling errors. I type fast and am not used to my dad's flat laptop keyboard!
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Unread 04-07-2005, 12:03 AM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

99% of the time, I am in favor of their bucks, their business.

However, I personally would give pause to signing up for anything beyond a third regular season event (whether three regionals or two and the Championship). At that point, I would take a long, hard look at the current needs and abilities of the team. The big questions would look something like:
  • Will the students be able to afford missing two or three more days of class?
  • Can the mentors survive three more days surrounded by screaming teenagers without going deaf or insane?
  • Can this money help those students who contribute greatly to the team, but can't travel to competitions because of money?
  • Is our current level of robot building enough to make a robot that won't leave a mess of parts all over the field from the additional matches and the use and abuse that comes with them?
  • Does our team need any additional equipment, for fabrication or otherwise?
  • Are we capable of mentoring a rookie/Vex/FLL team?
  • Could we use the funds to implement something useful at school or within the community?
If I could honestly answer all those questions and have the signs point to registering for a fourth event, then I'd be in favor of signing up.
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Unread 04-07-2005, 12:40 AM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

How is it that, of the four people I know that want to limit the number of regionals that a team can attend, three of them are from Texas?

First off, I have an issue with the basic premise. The question "Do you believe that this money could be better spent in the interests of achieving the goals of FIRST if the money was not spent on attending an additional regional event, but on engineering outreach instead?" is problematic. The construction of this sentence requires that you subscribe to the precept that funds expended on ANY engineering outreach activities will be more effective at achieving the goals of FIRST than attending a regional event before you can answer in the affirmative. This is an absurd assumption, and I must hope that was not what was intended.

But therein lies another problem. Ever so many people have spent so very much time over the past weeks pointing out that when trying to understand written communications (e.g. game rules, Q&A answers, etc.) it is nearly impossible to determine the authors intent unless it is made exactingly clear with nearly endless narrative. We have been forced to the conclusion that using personal intuition, logical understanding, and just plain common sense is inappropriate when discussing anything to do with FIRST. Thus, I must put my hopes aside, and be forced into a strict interpretation of the exact words that have been provided. So we will stick with the absurd assumption and see what happens.

Simply put, there are LOTS of ways to spend team funds on activities that could be called "engineering outreach." A minimal standard of quality for any such activity has not been defined for us with this problem, so we have to run through a few examples to determine how they might affect the logic of the problem. Engineering outreach could include everything from creating a new mini-engineering expo open to the public, to printing "Enjiners R Kewl" on 186,292 buttons and handing them out at the shopping mall. Some of these activities will be worthwhile, and others clearly will not. Providing an exciting, detailed, professional quality introduction to engineering achievements and the FIRST program would likely be a worthwhile activity. Stabbing random people with the pointy ends of poorly fabricated buttons imprinted with misspelled propaganda probably would not be as successful at inspiring them. Given these two examples, we make the assertion that there exists a set of activities which satisfy the criteria to be called engineering outreach, but are ineffective at achieving the goals of FIRST.

Once it has been established that such a set of activities exist, then the initial problem statement quickly collapses. If the money is spent on an activity from this set, then it will logically be an ineffective use of the funds. We further assert that use of the team funds to attend a regional competition is an effective mechanism for achieving the goals of FIRST (if this were not the case, then why would so many teams sign up to attend a second event?). Given the surrounding context of the problem statement, we can equate spending funds in the interests of achieving the goals of FIRST as simply "money well spent." By substituting these qualitative valuations into the original problem statement, the problem is simplified into the question "do you believe money could be better spent doing something that is known to be effective, or something that only has a chance of being effective?" Unles you are a former top executive at Enron, the implicit answer to this question must always be "invest in the known effective solution."

Of course, all of this is academic because none of us ARE former top executives from Enron, and we are all able to do whatever we dang well please with our team funds. And that is just the way it should be.

-dave

p.s. and if you think that ANY of this discussion is really about the question that was asked, then you have missed the point.
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Unread 04-07-2005, 12:43 AM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

I think two regionals per team, plus nationals is enough. After that, I think the money can be used elsewhere, either promoting engineering, science, technology, or even FIRST.

Let's take a team that has attended four regionals, or three regionals plus nationals. If they had only attended two events, there is an extra $8000 leftover from registration fees alone. That is the kind of money that can create a whole new FIRST team where FIRST can impact so many other students. Sure this new team can only travel to one event, but that is sufficient for FIRST to have an impact.

Also, when a team starts attending more than two regionals, they are in the running for awards that they may have already won. I know that many teams will attend another event and asked not to be included for an award if they have previously won it, and I love that. However, if you have not won an award at your past two regionals, how fair is it for you to win it at your third one? And if you don't disqualify yourself for these awards at your future regional, and it happens to be a championship event-qualifying award, you are taking away the chance for other teams to have the opportunity to go the championship event.
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Unread 04-07-2005, 01:45 AM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

I think a limit on the number of regionals a team can attend would make the competition a bit more fair. My team had enough trouble raising money for one regional this year, but the main problem for us isn't the registration fee, it's the travel costs. We're from North Dakota, and even the closest regional to us is in Colorado, nearly 800 miles away!

My team's trip lasted six days this year (including four school days) because of all the travel time. It complicates things a bit when your budget also has to include food and lodging for six days!

Limiting the number of regionals allowed to one or two would really help even out the playing field for those of us stuck out in the middle of nowhere.
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Unread 04-07-2005, 02:00 AM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

I can't do anything but agree with you..
That was something I had a hard time undertanding when I started in highschool.. some teams were able to goto 3-4 regionals and the nationals.. but we only went to one. but why...oh yeah money... Do teams really need to be going to 3-4.. I dunno. it's not for me to say.. but I dont' see the benefit of it..all the kids on my team get inspired after just one event.. and if it's not about winning.. I still don't see the purpose.. but I'm not on a team that has been to more than 1 regional so I don't know-- oh yeah kids should also think about school =) That's a bit more important than winning a regional

can lavery tell which ppl voted for what?

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Unread 04-07-2005, 02:10 AM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

Everyone commonly brings up the fact that with the money saved from going to one event could start a new team.

I don't think that's accurate at all though. While you may have enough money to start one, can you guarentee you'll have money year to year to give them? Or that you can guarentee there will be sponsors available to fund them yearly? How about mentors?

My point is, that even if a team could afford to start a new team, it really is not a smart idea. Especially in an environment like California, where we are saturated with FIRST teams, what happens after the first year? Can the team find enough money to survive?

I think it's MUCH more preferential to use the money, however the team sees fit, to inspire the current members of the team, than to inspire a group of kids for one year, and leave them to fend for themselves, and likely slowly (or immediately) die out.

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Unread 04-07-2005, 06:24 PM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

I would say that if a team would like to go to more than one regional, let them. Yes, FIRST is about inspiring students in science and technology, but it's also about having fun and meeting new people. These competitions aren't just about trying to win, they're an opportunity to make new friends and ties (that might even end up helping you in the future).
I also think it's an alternative to Nats. now, I don't mean that there's a replacement for Nats, but think about those teams who aren't qualified to go - a second regional could be their way of getting to travel and have fun (even our team was considering going to the other coast for a regional if we didn't qualify for nats). Most of the fun of robotics is just that - the robots, but another chunk of the fun is getting to travel and spend time with friends. So I don't see why a team should be limited to only one regional - let teams go and enjoy themselves.
On the other hand, I also believe there *can* be to many regionals to sign up for. Going to 2 (or even 3...though that's kinda pushing it) regionals is fine, but any more than that, and I would say the team is wasting time and money that could be put to better use. I say time because every regional a team attends means students missing class (and how well can students perform if they're missing close to 2+ weeks worth of class?) and money because that money can be put to the robot or to some good cause if they already have enough money for the bot.
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Unread 04-07-2005, 07:03 PM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by D.J. Fluck (and many others)
My opinion is what a team does with their money is their business
If teams should be allowed to do whatever they please with their money, should FIRST eliminate all restrictions on how teams spend their money?
If FIRST were to take this route, changes might include:
• Eliminating the $3500 limit on parts used for robots.
• Eliminating the 25-pound limit on fabricated spare/replacement/upgrade parts that you can bring to each regional event (since these parts do not count towards the $3500 limit).
• Eliminating the 120-pound weight limit for robots.
• Lengthening the 6-week build season.

FIRST already has restrictions on how teams can spend their money.
The reason for these restrictions, in my opinion, is twofold. The first is obviously to keep the playing field reasonably level. No one wants there to be teams that win simply by outspending other teams (this isn’t Major League Baseball )
The second reason is that FIRST doesn’t want teams spending every penny they have solely on the robotics competition.

If FIRST did want teams to spend all of their funding on the robotics competition, then why is there a 120-pound weight limit for robots? Why is the build season only 6 weeks long? Why can’t teams build $15,000 robots to compete? (note, a $15,000 robot could be pretty darn inspiring)

The general consensus seems to be that teams have a “right” to spend their money however they want. If this were truly the case, why isn’t everyone denouncing rules like the $3500 limit?

The responses to this thread and the results of the poll have made it clear to me that restricting teams to 1 regional is an unwelcome idea. Ah well, it was worth a shot . However, I believe that a rule restricting teams to 2 regional events (and the championship event, if a team is eligible) would not be some socialist plot to take away teams’ freedom to spend money. Instead, it would serve to remind teams that FIRST is not purely a robotics competition, but a chance inspire others in the same way that you have been inspired.

Spend your money how you want, but if FIRST wanted teams to spend all of their money building robots and attending competitions, FIRST would have made the season 52 weeks long.

Side note: I’m curious to know if FIRST would be as large and as prosperous as it is today if older (lower numbered) teams hadn’t spent so much time and money to do engineering outreach in the name of FIRST.

-Andrew
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Unread 04-07-2005, 07:33 PM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJunx
The question then, redefined, is this:
Do YOU believe that the $5,000 dollars (which is, I might add, a very low estimate) spent by Redateam to send their drive team and 7 engineers to an additional regional could be better spent in the interests of achieving the goals of FIRST (to inspire in young people an interest in engineering and science)?
In other words, do you believe that the money used to fund the "drive-team method," as described above, could not be used differently so as to inspire more people to become involved with science and engineering?
There may be a few teams that use the so called "drive team method." I personally have not witnessed any. Ever. All I have ever seen from a FIRST team at a regional competition is passion and enthusiasm in all of the members. I have seen small teams, and from what I have seen they are just as inspired as the students on large teams, so doesn't that make the money worth it?

I will assume however that since you brought up this "drive team method" that you have somewhere witnessed a team using it. If that is the case, is it really worth taking away from the experience of students on all of the other teams by limiting all teams to one regional. It is my opinion that FIRST is not about lowering the bar to those with the smallest expectations, but helping helping all teams exceed the standards set by the best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ajunx
"If teams should be allowed to do whatever they please with their money, should FIRST eliminate all restrictions on how teams spend their money?
If FIRST were to take this route, changes might include:
• Eliminating the $3500 limit on parts used for robots.
• Eliminating the 25-pound limit on fabricated spare/replacement/upgrade parts that you can bring to each regional event (since these parts do not count towards the $3500 limit).
• Eliminating the 120-pound weight limit for robots.
• Lengthening the 6-week build season.

FIRST already has restrictions on how teams can spend their money.
The reason for these restrictions, in my opinion, is twofold. The first is obviously to keep the playing field reasonably level. No one wants there to be teams that win simply by outspending other teams (this isn’t Major League Baseball )
The second reason is that FIRST doesn’t want teams spending every penny they have solely on the robotics competition.

If FIRST did want teams to spend all of their funding on the robotics competition, then why is there a 120-pound weight limit for robots? Why is the build season only 6 weeks long? Why can’t teams build $15,000 robots to compete? (note, a $15,000 robot could be pretty darn inspiring)"
If I were to guess, I would say that the $3,500 limit was put in place not to control the use of a team's funds, but to enhance the engineering experience. It would be a lot esier to build a competitive robot with $15,000. And that $15,000 robot may well be inspiring. But the $3,500 creates a much more realistic engineering experience with taking away any of it's inspiring qualities.

The six week build phase is similar to the monetary limit. I'm sure teams could build an amazing robot if they had an entire year (and $15,000) to build it in. But the six week build phase more realistically imitates a real world eningeering experience without comprismising the inspiration factor.

The 120 lb weight limit is another case of this. The real world has limits. There are deadlines and there are small budgets and there are project limitations. I think it's great that FIRST is able to achieve the number one goal of inspiration and still create such a wonderfully realistic engineering challenge.

FIRST rules are not about being negative and taking away to level the playing field. They are about creating a unique design challenge while still being an extremely positive experience. Limiting a team to one regional would take away from the experience without significant benefits.

~Allison
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Last edited by Allison K : 04-07-2005 at 07:39 PM.
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Unread 04-07-2005, 08:33 PM
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJunx
FIRST already has restrictions on how teams can spend their money. The reason for these restrictions, in my opinion, is twofold. The first is obviously to keep the playing field reasonably level. No one wants there to be teams that win simply by outspending other teams (this isn’t Major League Baseball )
The second reason is that FIRST doesn’t want teams spending every penny they have solely on the robotics competition.

If FIRST did want teams to spend all of their funding on the robotics competition, then why is there a 120-pound weight limit for robots? Why is the build season only 6 weeks long? Why can’t teams build $15,000 robots to compete? (note, a $15,000 robot could be pretty darn inspiring)

The general consensus seems to be that teams have a “right” to spend their money however they want. If this were truly the case, why isn’t everyone denouncing rules like the $3500 limit?
Uunnnhhh, perhaps there is a different reason. Yes, the $3500 limit was initiated to help level the playing field at a reasonable level (i.e. ensure that well-backed teams could not buy an unlimited amount of machining and out-sourced services while other teams struggled to purchase minimal supplies). But it was also done as a specific part of the design challenge. Installing a price cap mimicks real life (virtually every engineering project has a budget cap and spending limitations) and encourages innovation (if you can't just buy a solution to a certain problem, then you have to find a way to create it). Just like the weight, volume, power, and schedule limitations, it was done to constrain the problem to a manageable level. This is done to ensure that the robots can be completed, competed, and then put aside so we can can actually have a life outside of FIRST (yes, I know, this may seem like heresy to some, but it is true!). Attempting to define the spending habits beyond the cost of the robot was never a factor in FIRST's determination of the robot cost limits.

FIRST recognizes that a very high percentage of the teams in the program spend their entire budget just paying for the registration fees, travel costs to attend the events, and purchasing supplies to construct the robot. For most teams, there is NO money left over to fund elaborate outreach activities. The situation alredy exists where teams spend their entire budgets building the robots and competing. And contrary to the previous statements, FIRST is just fine with that. They have not made any attempt to tel lthe teams, explicitly or implictly, how to spend any excess funds they may have (and I would not want them to).

-dave
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

Our team 1 time did the "drive train" method. It was 2003 and we won the WM Regional on Saturday. We were iced in and couldn't return till Sunday evening. Championships were on Thursday. We had very little time or resources but decided to take the drive team and a few mentors. The reason for not taking everyone was that at that time tickets were about $1000.00 each and we just couldn't raise the cash that fast.

Were our team members inspired. You bet. I was writing back to the team once or twice a day updating them. It was almost as if they were there. Since that time our team has improved over the last 2 years and I am really proud of them. Remember that a team does not always have to be present but they are always a team.
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Re: Should teams be allowed to attend multiple regionals?

Ms. K, and Mr. Lavery have both brought up a great point which I failed to think about while I was writing my last post. That is,
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlavery
Installing a price cap mimicks real life (virtually every engineering project has a budget cap and spending limitations) and encourages innovation (if you can't just buy a solution to a certain problem, then you have to find a way to create it).
&
Quote:
Originally Posted by Allison K
I would say that the $3,500 limit was put in place not to control the use of a team's funds, but to enhance the engineering experience.
At the time of my post, I certainly had not considered this aspect of the rules restricting how teams may spend their time and resources. It seemed quite reasonable to me that FIRST would make those limits both in an attempt to prevent overworking students/mentors (which I think Mr. Lavery referred to) and to prevent teams from focusing solely on the competition aspect of FIRST all year-round (which, Mr. Lavery has clearly pointed out, was simply my misconception).

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlavery
FIRST recognizes that a very high percentage of the teams in the program spend their entire budget just paying for the registration fees, travel costs to attend the events, and purchasing supplies to construct the robot. For most teams, there is NO money left over to fund elaborate outreach activities…
And contrary to the previous statements, FIRST is just fine with that.
I shall happily agree that “a very high percentage of teams in the program spend their entire budget just paying for the registration fees, travel costs, etc.” But based on that statement alone, we know that some teams (a “very low percentage”, perhaps) have the budget capacity to do more than just attend a regional (and in some cases, nationals). The question then, is NOT:
--Should teams that can afford to attend only one or two regional events not attend those regionals?
But rather:
--Should teams that can afford to go to 3-4 regionals not attend those additional (third and fourth) regionals?

Actually, no, that is not the question at all. Nevermind, don’t answer that one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlavery
And contrary to the previous statements, FIRST is just fine with that. They have not made any attempt to tel lthe teams, explicitly or implictly, how to spend any excess funds they may have (and I would not want them to).
Perhaps what I have been getting at this whole time is what Mr. Lavery is referring to here (although my opinion would appear to be quite different from Mr. Lavery's):

Although it has been a fairly long while since I last heard the legendary Mr. Dean Kamen speak about robotics, FIRST, engineering, and life (in fact, it was about one year ago); I thought I remembered him talking about “homework.” I could have sworn that in each of the past 4 years that I have attended the championship event, Mr. Kamen has given every team (and person) an assignment:

Spread the word. Help FIRST grow in any and every way you can.

Again, my memory of his exact message is suspect at best, but I do believe that Mr. Kamen has explicitly told us to do everything in our power (whether that includes funds or not) to inspire those who have not yet been inspired.

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Mr. Kamen that was conducted by Kathy Kowalenko, posted in this thread:
http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/sh...t=Kamen+speech
Quote:
This year, 23,000 high school students participated in the FIRST competition. Is FIRST meeting your expectations?

The event always exceeds my expectations, but I am saddened by the relatively low number of students participating. While everyone is astounded by our growth—we’re finally in a major national sports arena—I assumed that we would have gotten here in the first or second year. Our growth may be envied but it’s never fast enough for me.

When will you consider FIRST to be really successful?

Five years from today, I want every kid in every high school in the United States to know that their high school has a football team, a marching band, and a FIRST team—it’s a given, its part of the school’s culture.
I take from Mr. Kamen's statements that he explicitly, or implicitly, wants teams to do everything they can to help FIRST grow. I do realize that there are plenty of ways to help FIRST grow, including, of course, attending regional and championship events.

[slight change of topic] One thing that I just thought about is that everyone who spends their time thinking about FIRST in the middle of the night , posting on Chief Delphi, wearing neon pink or tie-dyed shirts, designing transmissions for the kit-robot, and/or coming up with thought-provoking YMTCs… we are all inspired. There is no question about that. I am inspired and it feels good.

That being said, there are plenty out there who have not seen the light of inspiration, with regard to science and engineering. It seems as if FIRST is entirely about using every means at your disposal to bring that light of inspiration to the uninspired.

The fact that FIRST has been able to inspire so many people and continue to do so, is, I believe, a testament to the dedication of those who are constantly using their resources to further increase the reach of FIRST. Thanks to every person who has dedicated themselves to promoting FIRST and science/engineering, and inspiring others to get involved (I'm one of those inspired others). Without you, there’d be no discussion about how best to inspire; indeed, there would be no torch of inspiration to pass on to the next generation of FIRST participants.

All of this aside, thanks to everyone for the thoughtful discussion.

-Andrew

P.S. Feel free to tell me if I am way off base about anything I mentioned in this post .

P.P.S. In the first post of this thread, I was referring to Team 384 (Sparky). I mistakenly typed in Team 364 (not that they aren't great too!).

Last edited by AJunx : 04-08-2005 at 02:15 AM.
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