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  #31   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 05-23-2005, 01:17 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Wow,
I did respond under "when mentors go to far", but would like to add a couple of comments here as well. From the creator of this thread

Quote:
Plus FIRST is not about the people, its about the robot and how well it does in competition, because no ones asks your team for advice, if your the last seed on a list; they ask the team first seed.
To that, I disagree, but also "understand". FIRST is definately NOT "about the robot". You must keep saying that and keep thinking that way. However, I do understand that you will only get seeded and picked for alliances based on the performance of your robot.

In corporate life, you can't be all "sizzle and no bacon". You have to have an equal mix of marketing backed-up by a quality product; or is it the other way around. Such is real life frustration!

I would also like to comment about:
Quote:
that can afford more regionals, manpower and special interests, seem to always 'stamp-out' the other teams.
I have never seen a FIRST team (regardless of their funds, etc really try to "stamp-out" the other teams. You should be in this event for yourselves, and not for your sponsors, etc. Although I agree that most teams will do "better" overall with some good financial sponsorships, this is NOT about the "deep pockets" and corporate funding. In fact, I don't like the fact that teams announce themselves during the alliance picking by saying that "team 9999, funded by Acme Widget Corp., proudly accepts.....". The corporate backing, albeit important to get some levels of funding, should be behind the curtain at FIRST.
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Last edited by dhitchco : 05-23-2005 at 01:21 PM.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 02:55 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Sorry to post again in the same thread, but I think the shear number of posts this thread has gotten in less than 24 hours helps to prove that the ideals and spirit of FIRST are most definately alive and well.
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Unread 05-23-2005, 05:26 PM
Ryan Foley Ryan Foley is offline
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCook
Prompt: I feel that FIRST has lost its objectivity. There is no room for the smaller and almost more devoted teams. These teams make up the 75% that don't go to Nationals or has mass funding or really devoted mentors. This thread was written in response to the " when do mentors go too far" and the "Worst call ever..." Teams that can afford more regionals, manpower and special interests, seem to always 'stamp-out' the other teams.
I once thought as you did Chris. My old high school team has been in and out of the FRC since 1997. Although what I have come to find is the reason so many teams have trouble is because it is hard to get a solid grip in FRC. What I mean is that when you start a team, it's hard to get a solid foundation that will ensure it's life for many years. That is why more well known teams are well known. They have solid foundations that work well and good organization that keep the team going year after year. And those well known teams are definitely not trying to stamp out the smaller ones, if anything, the well known teams jump at the chance to help a smaller team be successful.

I found that taking a year off from FIRST helped me realize this and turn my thinking around.

Good Luck
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Unread 05-23-2005, 07:09 PM
Jaine Perotti Jaine Perotti is offline
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Chris -

I both agree and disagree with you on several points. I will try to make it brief (which is not my usual fashion ).

I believe that the ideals of FIRST have done anything but change. When the founders of FIRST were just beginning to dream about designing a robotics competition, they all had the same ideas in mind - inspire and educate young people to be more aware of science and technology fields. I believe that this is still the most fundamental goal that has guided FIRST to be where it is today. I don't see any evidence of these core values eroding - I believe that FIRST is doing its job when it comes to promoting this ideal. At the rate FIRST is growing, more and more students are being enabled to view science and technology in a positive light. More and more are learning things that they have never even dreamed of knowing before. FIRST is inspiring more and more students to become engineers and scientists - students who would otherwise never have been given the opportunity to explore those careers (I know I am one of them).

However, I do see that the issues that you have brought up are becoming more and more of a source of frustration for many FIRST teams. I don't think you meant that the "ideals" of FIRST are changing, so much as you meant that the "methods of growth" FIRST is encouraging teams to use are dis-satisfactory to certain team "types". The "type" of team I think you are talking about is the underfunded, under mentored team which strives to break even at the end of each season. This type of team is much different from say, the "type" of team which has many mentors, a strong corporate sponsorship, and a surplus amount of money at the end of each season. I think that I tend to agree with you that the ones who are struggling to break even DO in fact have a disadvantage to the teams with bountiful resources. Looking at the way my team is now (we are the "type" which struggles every year for money), I see that it is virtually impossible to go around funding new teams (although we can offer mentorship) or initiating the sort of change which requires a large amount of dedicated and knowledgeable individuals. We are certainly not devoid of those types of motivated people - in fact, I would say that we have a very high ratio of those who are willing to throw their heart and soul into FIRST compared to those who have different priorities. However, our problem is that relative to the size of the team (which is quite small), that high ratio means that there are still very few of them. Because we have so few people, it is hard for us to, for example, start 10 lego teams per year.

I do think that you have a valid point by bringing up this frustration. It is indeed very hard for small, rural type teams to bring in enough revenue to merely pay for registration fees, let alone begin trying to make broad culture change by initiating new community programs. By no means am I saying it is impossible - take a look at team 103's excellent rural support resources. However, I recognize what you are saying when you mention that there is a problem. I think that FIRST needs to make its program more economical to different demographic areas. If FIRST can make the program more economical, then I believe it will be able to do its job even better; reach the areas that need FIRST the most (poverty-ridden areas), and allow existing teams to expend more money on the culture-change part of the FIRST program. I don't know how exactly FIRST should go about doing this - in fact, I don't have the slightest inkling. However, I do believe that unless FIRST changes something about the economic accessibility of the program, the founders' dream of "a FIRST team in every high school" will not be able to become a reality. As it has been reported already, there are currently not enough resources to support a large amount of FIRST teams in a small geographic area. The FIRST program is a "money-guzzler", as wonderful as it is, and in order for the program to spread, I agree that there needs to be reform in the areas of funding.

However, I just want to add one thing...

When you say that the large, corporate teams tend to "stamp out" the smaller ones, I would like to disagree. As I have already stated, my team is a very small team. <begin-slightly-shameless-but-hopefully-inspiring-plug> However, even though we too have been underfunded, rural, and small, we have managed to see great successes in our five years of participation. Last year, we won the UTC New England Regional, which is well attended by older, veteran teams, and we were close finalists at the New Jersey Regional. We won the Delphi's "Driving Tomorrow's Technology Award" at BOTH regionals - and we only have the help of one engineer. In Atlanta, we were undefeated in qualifying rounds, set the record of the highest score for the season, 230 points (along with team 45 and 1272, a rookie), and managed to be division finalists (losing to the alliance which eventually went on to win the whole thing). We did incredibly well for having the "small team" disadvantages that you describe! </end slightly-shameless-plug> I believe that your team can do it too. Take any group of individuals, no matter how small, and motivate them ... and you can go on to do great things. Take a group of people and transform them into a team, and you can overcome many of the toughest obstacles. As other have mentioned, in order to become one of the "greats", you must first build a solid foundation of team work and support. This is not easy, and it can take years and years to achieve. But once you do it, the sky is truly the limit.

Good luck,

-- Jaine

...and oops, that wasn't exactly brief...
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Unread 05-23-2005, 09:32 PM
Marc P. Marc P. is offline
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BurningQuestion
I think that FIRST needs to make its program more economical to different demographic areas. If FIRST can make the program more economical, then I believe it will be able to do its job even better; reach the areas that need FIRST the most (poverty-ridden areas), and allow existing teams to expend more money on the culture-change part of the FIRST program. I don't know how exactly FIRST should go about doing this - in fact, I don't have the slightest inkling. However, I do believe that unless FIRST changes something about the economic accessibility of the program, the founders' dream of "a FIRST team in every high school" will not be able to become a reality. As it has been reported already, there are currently not enough resources to support a large amount of FIRST teams in a small geographic area. The FIRST program is a "money-guzzler", as wonderful as it is, and in order for the program to spread, I agree that there needs to be reform in the areas of funding.
I think this is where the FIRST Vex Challenge will come into play. From what I've read and seen in Atlanta, it seems the Vex system is poised to provide FIRST's ideals an outlet to reach areas which otherwise would not be able to sustain a FIRST Robotics team.

The important thing to remember is FIRST is about Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology first (no pun intended, really), and a robotics competition second. Looking through the "Does FIRST give out too many awards" thread, and looking at the current list of awards, there are very few awards focused on the actual competition itself. Out of the list of 20 awards, only 3 or 4 are directly related to the competition structure. The rest have more to do with the functions of the team, from the design/fabrication of the robot, to web design, sportsmanship, spirit, Chairmans projects, Engineering Inspiration, safety, etc. Compare that to some of the awards of years past, such as play of the day, number 1 seed, offensive/defensive match of the day, etc.

Just as Woodie and Dean said in the introduction video at each regional- the competition is a celebration of all the hard work put into the build season. Not only in physically building the robot, but the engineers/parent/teachers/mentors putting forth their time and energy to teach their skills and share experience with students. In that sense, it really doesn't matter how much money a team has, or how well a robot does. The only thing that really matters is the understanding and appreciation of the technology and science behind how the robot came to be. Ideally, this would result in students going to college/university to pursue careers in whatever they find themselves enjoying throughout the FIRST experience. It could be mechanical/electrical engineering, business, accounting, or whatever. At the end of the competition season, if the students are pumped up about coming back the next season, or starting some team off-season projects, or about moving on to college, then FIRST has achieved it's ideals.

Last edited by Marc P. : 05-23-2005 at 09:34 PM.
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Unread 06-09-2005, 06:00 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

As many have already stated, I really dont think that the "Ideals" of FIRST have changed. FIRST has always been about inspiration and continues to be.

But FIRST has changed in a few other ways. It has become more corporate like. Many threads show how "in the old days" the FIRST community was like a large family... now its more like a business. This often makes it hard for the smaller teams to be heard.

Another way that hurts the small teams is that it costs a lot more money. I can remember back in 2000 that there was a team of a father and his two sons who scraped together just enough money to attend nationals (before you had to qualify or rookies couldnt register). They essentially put together a plywood box on a scissor lift with wheels that could lift balls. It was a valient effort, and they were an inspiration to all of us.

Where I can agree with the "stamped-out" comment, is that yes, smaller teams can no longer afford to go to several events. Smaller teams cannot afford the people to put together a large scouting system or 10 different crews at the events. Smaller teams dont often have the resources to make a ton of marketing propaganda.

But where I disagree, is that smaller teams are still an inspiration to a lot of us. Its the "wow, look at what they accomplished with 1/10 our budget, or half our people..." etc. It inspires us all to be a bit more frugal and perhaps give a little more of ourselves. If we have 10 times the sponsorship, we should strive to accomplish 10 times as much, and part of that should be trying to help out the smaller teams that may need it, or start new teams, etc.

Dont lose hope... perhaps your team may not think it is seen, but it is. Someone recognizes the effort you made, even if you dont have the black and clear plastic to prove it.

Oh and another thing, you dont have to leave FIRST, I graduated HS in 98, and Clarkson University didnt have a team, so I started one... take your ambitions and your direction and start up a new team!

Anyways, I gotta run to our HS awards ceremony just my thoughts as usual.
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Unread 06-12-2005, 10:25 AM
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Exclamation Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCook
Teams with the most funding, mentors, and special interests do well and thatís how the program robotics programs continue. But for team like mine, the program is now nothing because we are losing our Head mechanic, head software and hardware, and team president.
For those of you who went to UTC, 1568 was the little rookie team composed of 9 students (2 from junior high), 2 mentors and 3-4 parents. Our shirts were simple iron ons, nothing to fancy. Our robot was simple, a pulley mechanism to lift the arm(s). Our budget was 10,000 dollars. We did really well, placed as the top rookie team, and 13th rank going into alliance picking. We were the 8th seed alliance capptains and had to step out in our 2nd match because of a rookie mistake. So what do i think? our rag tag team of 9 people, only one which knew what was going on put together a very good robot using a very low budget. Maybe you think the values of FIRST has changed, but i do not. It's still about bringling together people to work on a common goal, and in the process promoting engineering.
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Unread 06-29-2005, 10:04 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

I am a member of one of the small teams that have very little and i love i would rather be on a small team than a large one anyday because i think a large team is so impersonal so really get to know your teamates but my has bout 9 student members its great no one focus's on one area everyone does everything and there are alot of things we can't do because we are small we can't raise money we can't do an automous cause we don't have the kind of man power needed for that but i am learning C right now an anmation is out of the question we had 1 student do the whole thing and that was the first time using the program we also have few tools we cut with hax saws drill with hand drills we consider it a huge treat for someone to bring a drill press or a electric saw we even lost our engineer last year but we still did great at our regionals 4th seed 3rd pick and our seed finished in the quarter's i love my team i'm so glad my school has a team i don't know where my life would be without FIRST
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Unread 06-29-2005, 11:08 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

you know their are some interesting ideas in this thread but i got to disagree with a couple of parts. our team is losing almost every aspect of leadership this year to kids going to college, and yet i think well be stronger next year. Not because they are bad leaders but because of the determination of the new people and what our leaders passed on. and while strong sponsorship is NICE we do really well and we don't normally have any money until after we build our robot (god i hope our sponsors don't read this but if they did they would know that what I'm really trying to say is we love them). In fact while there are some real flashy bots i think the judges also look at what the team has actually worked with. i saw some newbie teams with some kick *rear* bots. and as to the mentors we have found sometimes having lots of mentors or experienced ones can be a bad thing (they tend to turn down kids ideas on the basis of their knowledge and forget that teams should really be an expression of the students creativity not the mentors). I'm personally doing allot of our electrical experimenting for next year on my personal time with my own money ouch. overall i think FIRST still holds true to much of its principles (even if its scoring system doesn't). next championship take a look around you see kids sharing (or sneakily trying to discover) new ideas. you don't even need to look there look right here. the idea behind FIRST is not to win or even build cool bots the point is to give an environment where kids can learn and express themselves in ways not normally possible to them (ohh yeah and the pizza). every team has the chance too excel even if they don't have access to a water jet or obscene amounts of cash. they idea is that people have the chance to grow each year. if your leaders are truly teaching anything too the people they leave behind then you should be fine. wow that was long i doubt anyone is even going to read this far so I'm going to end it by saying I'm superior too all you so bow before me and worship me (heh bet i get away with that too)
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Unread 06-29-2005, 11:52 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

mechanicalbrain, I think that was well said. I would agree with most of the points. I can tell you are on the road to becoming a "key" member on these forums. I hope to see more of your posts over the course of the summer.
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Unread 06-30-2005, 08:04 AM
Adrienne E. Adrienne E. is offline
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

Going into my 7th year of being involved in FIRST I think I can say I have experienced allot of different "teams" I came from Team 191. Well funded, huge on Chairmans and awesome at inspiring all the the people involved on the team. I graduated and moved on to Team 229. My first season with them (2003) was a real eye opener for me. I didn't realize how hard it was for teams with no budget, and very few dedicated mentors. But I threw myself into the team and the robot, and after that year I almost quit the program. In high school I never got a chance to see the difficulties that some teams face, and truthfully I'm amazed that so many teams continue to exist year after year because keeping a FIRST team going is really hard work!

So theres my background, but the real point that I want to make in this post is that success is measured very differently on each team. So yes, maybe some of the smaller, less funded teams in FIRST aren't winning regionals and awards every year. But maybe thats not what they consider success. If you were to ask me why this season was so successful for Team 229, my first answer would be that FOUR of our graduating seniors got FIRST scholarships for college (a big improvement on the zero from last season). Maybe thats just the mentor in me talking but I really am extremely proud of them!

This season we lost 2 key college mentors, and next year myself and most of our leadership will be graduating. Am I scared that my team is going to go down the tubes? YES but the only thing I can do is try to inspire more people to step up and keep it going.

Anyways, after all this rambling, have the FIRST ideals changed? No. Were they ever the same for all teams? Probably Not. But we all just have to do what we can and are willing to, to keep our teams going.
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Unread 06-30-2005, 12:37 PM
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Re: The Ideals of FIRST have Changed...

see thats what i kind of don't encourage. while i love mentors i like watching them take a hands off approach. mentors should be able to say "if i wasn't here my team would be fine" and it should be true. finally being junior and leader of electronics finally gives me some sway and one of the things I'm pushing for is a teaching workshop where all the group leaders basically explain everything they do which is good because if we cant show people can move along with out us it also means that people can switch in if a group needs extra help. i don't know how it works in the other teams but i see some great ideas kids create that never make it because a mentor has a great idea he wants to do. in allot of these cases kids who would be innovative leaders end up just putting together a mentors idea. some people here may do it with out realizing it. mentors ask yourself are you a guiding, driving, or helping force. if you picked one of the first two then you might be doing a job that would be better put in the kids hands let the kids lead and invent help them to be the best but remember that (this especially applies to returning FIRST people) that in order for kids to grow they have to be given room to grow if not actually using an idea (because not all ideas can be used) still encourage the kid to create more ideas even build a couple that way the kid might be on better ground with his experience and have become stronger from your encouragement. i know this will probably earn me some interesting mails and yes i know it doesn't apply to everyone. i honestly think this will only be valuable depending on the person who reads it. oh yeah i would like to give thanks to sanddrag who i think is a great example of a mentor.
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