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  #61   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-20-2018, 10:18 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeeTwo View Post
^^ This.

This summer, as well as build sessions, we're doing a handful of short courses. Most of them have adult mentors teaching, but we have three incoming seniors certified in AutoCAD, and they'll be teaching that one. Coach Travis and I are among the students in that class.
Any chance of video?
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Unread 04-20-2018, 10:20 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
My team will never make it to the National Championship qualification is based solely on Wins and Losses.

WHY? Because our team decided that the students will design and build our bot, not the mentors or machinists who work for our team sponsors.
As someone from multiple teams who are often accused of being "Factory Built Robots," (aka, mentor designed and built) I encourage you to personally reach out to those teams and ask for an invitation to see their shop space and talk to their students face to face.

My current team, 1024, takes pride in how much work our students do. Just look through our Twitter feed and you'll see some great examples of this. Yet, this year we were accused by at least one other team that we know of, of being "Mentor-built." If you talked to any of our students, you'd know that's not the case.

If you happen to make it out to IRI, come find me and my team (the event is hosted at one of our schools). I'd be happy to introduce you to our Pit Captain, Mackenzie, if she can attend the event. She's a 12th grader and her knowledge of robotics blows mine out of the water, and I've been doing this for over 15 years.

Another suggestion: reach out to as many teams as you can and make friends with mentors from those teams. Learn from them. Take them out for a beer or drinks of choice. Making connections in this community opens up your team to so many resources and ideas. Plus it makes mentoring more fun when you're competing with and against your friends.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 10:25 AM
Andrew Schreiber Andrew Schreiber is offline
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

I'm an engineer, I joke around a lot that I "make pretty pictures with javascript" but at the end of the day I'm a professional software engineer with nearly a decade of experience building and deploying real software.

A few months ago I was having issues figuring out some structure for a ROS project, you know what I did? I asked a STUDENT on 900. I admit, I asked Marshall first but he didn't know and told me to ask a student.

Let that sink in.

(I have dozens of these stories, this was just the most recent)


How does it align with the OP assertion that students can't compete with adults? Students can do a lot of cool stuff, we can learn a lot from them. They can learn a lot from us too. This isn't supposed to be adults playing with robots but it's also not supposed to be adults as babysitters. All of the best teams are partnerships where everyone learns together.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 10:48 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

I feel like it shouldn't be an all student effort nor an all mentor effort. It's a robotics team is it not?

Each party has involvement, both the students and mentors work on the robot. All the good ideas aren't made by the mentors, and all the good ideas aren't made by the students either. It's a collection of both. As stated previously robotics is a learning experience, how are you supposed to learn if you aren't shown and also do it yourself?
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Unread 04-20-2018, 10:48 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I would really like to see FIRST comment on this one. It is keeping a vast majority of the kids from living the complete FIRST experience.
They have. Go read their mission statement, specifically the part about mentor-based programs. https://www.firstinspires.org/about/vision-and-mission

I could go on a huge rant here but it wouldn't change your views. If you feel like you can't compete in FRC I'd suggest going to another program like VEX or FTC.

Disparaging the efforts of all the kids on the teams you're referring to is nothing short of insulting and you should feel bad for doing so. I expected more from 433.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:05 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Dognaux View Post
I expected more from 433.
Remembering, of course, that a forum post is a direct thoughtstream from an individual and does not reflect the feelings of every individual on the team.

Re-reading his post, and knowing how long he's been in FIRST, I can remember feeling the same exact things back in the day.

That said, nowadays, with teams sharing ideas and mechanism designs online, it's REMARKABLE how much more knowledge students can pull out of these designs, and learn how to use the same techniques to create similar, yet unique mechanisms. The technology has become more accessible that it's SO much harder to try to assert "yup, designed by mentors" vs "wow, designed by students". I don't even try, anymore -- especially because the most beautiful and elegant-looking machines aren't always the ones that win everything.

And again, it's not important.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:05 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

I can tell you that as a small team in a rural area that struggles to have both kids and mentors each year, we do wrestle with this question each season. But I have to really question why things are viewed so "binary" as one vs. the other. I came into robotics primarily with some hand tool knowledge and a lot of coaching experience in athletics. On my varsity Bball or Vball team, true we would not be allowed to "touch the ball" in a game, but boy did we touch it in practice!

My point is that if I put a team on the field (Drive team) who has practiced, trained, developed strategy, and bonded together with their team-mates and with their coaches/trainers, we can get close to the best that we have to offer in a given season.

For our team, putting some of these practices in place has bettered us. If our few students bring the desire and time needed to have less "mentor hands" in their area, we do it. In other areas, we may have to do more so the kids have something to compete with...it changes every single year.

We build with hacksaws, a single bandsaw, and far less significant digits than many teams...but our success has always been determined by how bonded together the students and mentors become by the time competition rolls around.

The difference between the teams we look up to (we learned so much from 254 being their third bot in 2016, 1885 who has a robust program and is incredible at sharing knowledge, and so many other superior programs in the Chesapeake District) is how they structure their programs and build more sponsors, mentors, and outreach to students. We try to put some of those steps in place every year and it is slow, painful, and incredibly rewarding.

We still build with hacksaws and students and mentors holding onto the piece of metal...but we no longer expect to lose because of it. We try an maximize the year for whatever it brings us.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:13 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Sigh... I wanted to start with a full disclaimer that Bob G's profile is a little out of date and that he hasn't actually been a mentor with 433 since 2013, and as the current Co-Lead Mentor of the Firebirds I can assure everyone that his opinions do not reflect those of 433 as a whole.

Bob, I am really disappointed that you would write this, and I am hoping that none of my current girls or former firebirds read this thread. Because it is sad to see you think that we will never make it to the world Championships based off of Robot performance. Or that you still think that winning on the field is the only metric that matters.

Over my 11 years in FIRST, I have come to realize that every FIRST team runs a little bit differently but I don't think there is a single team in FIRST were the students aren't learning from the process and becoming inspired. I am of the opinion that there are no truly "Mentor built robots".

Over the last four years since I have transitioned back to being a firebirds Mentor, our team has been trying to make great strides in our robot on the field performance. We are fully aware that we have a reputation for not building the best robots and we are actively trying to change that. We have spent countless hours in the offseason building up our CAD program (which 4 years ago was non-existent), Learning to use CAM software, Investing in 3d printers, and two years ago we were able to make a major investment in a 1'x1' X Carve CNC router table. It may be small, but Having access to that router table has completely changed the way we approach building robots. I think many times in FIRST people equate "precision machined" for "Mentor Built" Having access to better tools has allowed our students to design better robots because precision machining and CAD means that the parts actually fit together the first time without needing to be swish cheesed and reamed out. Parts that fit the first time has meant less time spent on each part which has allowed us more time to iterate and to build twin bots, which has helped us immensely. I am proud that my current students now know how to design for and use the CNC router, skills I wish I had learned when I was on the team.

Like many posters have stated about their team, Our Team runs as a partnership between students and mentors. During the build season the students lead projects and the mentors are there to serve as guides. During the off season, the mentors design projects ideas to teach the students specific topics and lessons that they need to learn and understand for the coming season and the students execute those projects. We have been running this model the last three years and are quite happy with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricH: I also have some encouragement: You'll get there eventually. There's a team out this way who picked up their first on-field qualifier last year--this is a team that's been around as long as you have been! (And... it was a wildcard; they still haven't picked up a win, or an RCA for that matter. Had you been in regionals, you'd have quite possibly had one this year yourself.) I notice that your robot performance has picked up in the last 5 years or so; you've got a chance yet.
Thank You for noticing Eric! We really have been working hard on it, and I have no doubt that we will qualify on the field eventually.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:14 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Quote:
Originally Posted by galewind View Post
Remembering, of course, that a forum post is a direct thoughtstream from an individual and does not reflect the feelings of every individual on the team.
I can only assume this mentor helps run their team in a way that is in-line with the statements he made in his post. If he publicly talks poorly about nice looking robots and assumes there is no student involvement on Chief Delphi, why wouldn't he say the same things to his students? It's sad that this kind of brainwashing happens in FIRST. Really sad.

What you say reflects upon your team - always has, always will.

Edit: Read the post above, I'm happy that others on 433 do not share this line of thinking. You all do some great work out East.
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Last edited by Ryan Dognaux : 04-20-2018 at 11:18 AM.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:34 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Quote:
Originally Posted by HannahF View Post
Sigh... I wanted to start with a full disclaimer that Bob G's profile is a little out of date and that he hasn't actually been a mentor with 433 since 2013, and as the current Co-Lead Mentor of the Firebirds I can assure everyone that his opinions do not reflect those of 433 as a whole.

Bob, I am really disappointed that you would write this, and I am hoping that none of my current girls or former firebirds read this thread. Because it is sad to see you think that we will never make it to the world Championships based off of Robot performance. Or that you still think that winning on the field is the only metric that matters.
I had a mentor like Bob back in 2011. He came to the regional with a couple of his buddies and few beers, kicked back in the stands near where the students sat, and the three of them pointed out how much our robot sucked compared to the others on the field, more loudly and crudely the more beers were consumed. It was embarrassing and disheartening to our students and infuriating to me.

Our team and our robots have gotten better since then, in part because we've implemented many of the same improvements that 433 has, Hannah, so kudos to you and your team for taking a good path forward. I do hope that this negative blast from the past doesn't impact your team badly.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:36 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Dognaux View Post
I can only assume this mentor helps run their team in a way that is in-line with the statements he made in his post. If he publicly talks poorly about nice looking robots and assumes there is no student involvement on Chief Delphi, why wouldn't he say the same things to his students? It's sad that this kind of brainwashing happens in FIRST. Really sad.
Really? Is that what you really assume? No considering a moment of frustration and venting by an individual? Just strictly this is DOGMA FROM ON HIGH AND THUS THIS IS WHAT YOU MUST ALL BELIEVE? I'm so sorry that you feel that way .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Dognaux View Post
What you say reflects upon your team - always has, always will.
Yeah, I guess we see just things completely differently.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:47 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Quote:
Originally Posted by galewind View Post
snip
To be fair, when a someone (evidently wrongfully) claims to have mentored a team for 19 years and clearly has a strong personality, it's not a stretch to believe those are the ideals they choose to pass on to their students.

The street goes both ways on what you pass on; I've seen teams where kids believe their mentors when they say it's perfectly fine to lay down and accept they lost "because the other team cheated" but I've also seen teams get their bot handed to them and reach out after the match and set up a team social with the winning team to pick their brain about how to improve.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:49 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Not dogma, just Dognaux.

And yes, I would expect that an adult who writes such a scathing opinion as the OP did is not simply venting.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:51 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Given Hannah's post above, and the heated discussion toward the end of this thread, I'm gonna echo another poster in saying this thread should probably be locked up.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 11:51 AM
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Re: Factory Built Bots VS. Student Built Bots -Something Has To Change!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Dognaux View Post
What you say reflects upon your team - always has, always will.
+1

It's impossible for your opinions and posts to not reflect upon your team whether you like it or not. When I read a post, I unconsciously associate the content within the post with the team. How else am I supposed to form opinions about teams from around the world? It's not like I can meet half of them at some culminating event at the end of the season.

I know my opinions reflect on my team which is why I try to avoid saying stupid stuff on CD... I'm not always successful.
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