A Thought for ALL

It was requested that I put a comment of my post in another thread for all to see. I hope everyone understands what FIRST is all about. Some of you have seen this already, but a mentor of mine told me to spread this message. Enjoy!

Just a word from the captain of a really no name team:
There are teams that have a lot of resources, and there are those who have less, and there are those who have none. My team fell under the category of NONE, i mean zip, zero, nein, no funds at all. I have heard a lot of teams complaining about the teams that have a lot of resources, never mind that they’ve been around FOREVER, never mind that they have worked their butts off to get where they are, never mind that they do everything they can to help a team in need; lets just complain about them winning a competition, and complain that they have more than us. Get a grip guys. seriously.

We began in 2010 with four students and a mentor all who had no clue what we were getting into. We went to competition with a kit chassis, a wooden board screwed on top with a few electrical components slapped on (velcroed, and i’m not kidding, because we had nothing else to use), a wooden board to keep balls from rolling under the front of the bot, and a piece of tubing stretched across the sides to stop balls from coming underneath on the sides. We could move around, and that was about it.

We came to Peachtree, and saw the most amazing thing in the world. Finally a competition where there were real professional players and everyone willing to help everyone. In a matter of minutes, there were teams swarming our pit coming to visit “the new guys”, and to help out. A few teams saw our bot, and took it into their hands to help us. They donated and helped us build an 8020 cage around the bot to keep from being demolished from their own resources, helped us fix chain, helped us re-write code, all of the top-tier teams did all they could to help us.

Now, as captain, looking back, everyone seems to forget that powerhouse teams such as 148, or 254, or 330, or 33, or whoever, will do everything within their power and ability to help out another team no matter what. I contacted team 254 at the start of this year because with the extreme increase in the amount of people this year, I decided it would benefit us to see how such powerhouses goth where they were, and to see how they manage the their teams. Instead of saying that the mentors do all the work on those teams, maybe people need to take a step back and re-evaluate their own teams. 254 told me that anything they could do to help, mechanically, design related, marketing related, anything, that they would do anything to help us. That includes sharing designs and what they have learned in the past. instead of criticizing them, maybe the FIRST community needs to try and be more like them. These teams realize that not everyone has an entire NASA research center at their disposal, not everyone has thousands of dollars to spend on fabrication equipment. But they do extend their hands to the community if all we would do is ask.

Using others designs to improve upon, is not copying. it’s innovation. The first thing that i did when came hope from kickoff this year was begin researching what worked and what didn’t work in similar games in past competitions, especially 2007. That’s research. Learn from others mistakes, learn what didn’t work and what worked instead to harping on teams that have been-there-done-that. give them credit and thank them for saving you the trouble of learning the hard way. That’s what FIRST is about people. Collaboration, Innovation, and Gracious Professionalism.

Velcro is the stuff, man. Just keep it off the cRIO and you can’t do any better.

Great observations and very well written.

This is exactly the sentiment that I have been feeling from some time.

The teams that are the greats (not going to list any numbers because there are FAR too many to list) didn’t get that way overnight. Nor did they get that way by some magical force.

They got that way by sheer determination and hard work. They went around to get sponsorship: wrote emails, made phone calls, set up meeting etc. Then they were given the chance to show their stuff and hope that this company would be gracious enough to donate some time, resources, or money. If they got some donations they thanked them and welcomed them to their family. If they didn’t get donations, they thanked them and went on to the next potential investor.

If we think hard we can all remember a time where our team had little resources, or little leadership or heck little membership (I can think of a few teams where every year they only had enough kids to form a drive team). But the beauty of this program is that it is our beginnings that make us who we are today. I say we should embrace it and help others out to do the same.

We were all rookies once, and we really have two ways to go about things: either take a page from the powerhouses and emulate their style, or complain about not having anything and risk falling into oblivion.