Assisting Teams at Worlds & Connecting Teams Together

Hello! I plan to help organize 2024 worlds assistance, once again. I will probably make a new CD post with a link to a new, improved Google form & sheet. :slight_smile:

The two main issues last year with giving out assistance was:

  • Hard to transport all items to worlds
  • Hard to distribute items

If any teams or people wish to help with this massive project, let me know!

Also, thank you to everyone that helped last year. We helped so many teams and hope to do so again this year. :green_heart:

Note: If this is not posted by April 7th, this likely is not happening.

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Maybe a different approach?

Gather a list of teams willing to help. Then when divisions are announced, make up sheets of “Archimedes Teams Offering to Help”, “Daly Teams Offering to Help”, … “Newton Teams”. And drop the appropriate list by all international teams’ pits. Then they can just find a nearby team and borrow stuff.

Last year out pit neighbor was international and their pit was in their suitcases. It was convenient for us to loan them what they needed. Dragging a whole list of stuff across to some other division would be much less so?

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That would be awesome… except not all the assisting teams have pits and not all divisions had an assisting team. :frowning: It would be rough trying to store or load-in all the “No Division” items. For reference, here’s last years distribution of teams helping vs teams being assisted.

We will bring our Service Angels and their Cart of Parts to Champs this year. I am seeing more teams ddoing work like this and I’m all for it. Champs is not immune to broken robots and missing parts.

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Do we understand why NGOs representing groups of international teams do not see themselves responsible for coordinating a batch purchase of batteries for all Championship-qualifying teams from their country?

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I believe Citrus and Poofs had their help carts at worlds last year too! It was really awesome and definitely helped fix broken robots. Excited to see your team and thank you for assisting others. :slight_smile:

I think the biggest issues that the help carts don’t address are large items (folding tables, battery carts, robot carts) and teams wanting to be loaned sets of tools + batteries + chargers so they don’t have to always bother other teams or buy these items. I really feel like FIRST staff should find a way to assist with this.


I don’t know exactly. However, here are some battery difficulties:

  • Batteries cost a lot, don’t have infinite life, and would end up a yearly cost.
  • Not every team asking to be loaned batteries can afford to buy batteries
  • Battery chargers would also need to be bought potentially yearly.
  • Where do all these items go after worlds? Probably donated to local teams.

Overall, it would be nice if FIRST (with some potential fixes to above issues):

  • Organized the world championship batteries + battery chargers buying
  • Talked to Houston teams & FiT staff about maintaining & storing batteries & battery chargers
  • Organized someone to pick up and test the stored batteries + battery chargers
  • Inventoried batteries and organized new battery + battery charger order which would hopefully not be as costly as year one of the “International Batteries” program

I’ll update here or whatever thread is appropriate as we figure out everything we plan to bring, but I know that among the items will be spare batteries and a battery charger. I had not thought of a work table, I’ll see if we can do that too or if it’s necessary since I think teams still get some kind of table in their pits.

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They do! The issue is one table ends up not being enough usually, especially if they have no robot cart, shelving, or other storage items. :pensive:

Related - I reached out to HQ last year with the following (slighlty modified for posting to CD):

On a related note, I’d like to suggest HQ and international teams/organizations need to work together to figure something out. We’re trying to help out several international teams that are hitting us up on all sorts of social media, getting different people, and it makes coordinating any help extremely difficult. If there was one person that was the point of contact that would help distribute and return things like batteries, dollies, tools, etc - our help would be more efficient and less stressful and I think everyone would have a better experience. Our students are so used to just saying “yes” to requests, and it’s been an unpleasant experience the past couple of weeks trying to manage what we can and can’t do, what’s fair, and all that.

I got a request asking to expand a bit more on what I mean, so I sent this (again, slightly modified from the email I sent out):

Yea, absolutely. Sorry for the delay as we had district champs this past weekend.

Our students know that almost always when a team asks for help, we are fortunate to be in a position to give it without much of a second thought. Whether it’s programming, materials, a sensor, motors, space to build/practice, batteries, tools…whatever. It can be seen on CD that international teams are (quite understandably and obviously) in a position of needing a lot of help for world champs:
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In addition to general CD posts, because we are a local Houston team, we get messages via Discord, Facebook, Instagram, and email from these teams asking for help - and sometimes this request goes directly to a student or to a wide variety of mentors for our team that again are conditioned to more or less say “yes” to any request for help. This puts us in a tough spot of having to pick and choose who to help and how, and then having a dedicated person to go to each of those teams to request the more expensive items back in cases that they don’t automatically bring them back themselves (totally understandable with how load out can be a hectic time). I generally don’t mind loaning things out at our district events because even if we don’t get them back it’s not often a whole lot, it’s often to teams that are struggling, or it’s to a team that we also know we’ve received lots of help from in the past or will in the future as well. But when it’s several international teams, it’s hard to know if/when we will get the items back, there can be barriers that make that communication difficult or stressful, and also the logistics of knowing what was lent to who, and due to the items and the amount, it’s a much bigger financial strain if we don’t get items back.

It would be wonderful if there were some kind of tool/battery/something “bank” of some sort. I of course don’t have the complete solution envisioned and there would be hardships, but I could envision something like this:

  • teams have clearly labeled tools, batteries, whatever that they bring with them and provide to the bank/exchange system and those items and value (of which 0 can be an option) gets logged by a volunteer or paid FIRST staff running it.
  • teams that need to borrow said items have some kind of financial deposit for borrowing those items. The deposit is returned when they return the items logged

It is not often that I would ask/request that we add a layer of FIRST HQ or volunteers between team communication, but in this case - I think it is an improvement. It would be so much less stressful for us to decide we are going to bring 6 extra batteries and give them to a bank than for us to try to pick one team to give all of them to, or 6 teams to each give 1. It’d also give us a little bit of assurance that we’re likely to get things back vs if we just evaluate if we’re good with just lending out things that if we don’t back, we don’t care. It’d also make it easier for non-local teams to bring say an extra battery to contribute to the “bank” for international teams that otherwise can’t bring some items.

Thanks for asking for more details!

Andrew

I got no further responses after that email unfortunately.

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I don’t think it’s a radical idea that if your regional/national FIRST affiliate organization has a mission of promoting FIRST by advancing a set of teams to compete on the world stage, then your mission shall also include supporting those trip logistics.

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Assuming we (3175) qualify (we won’t know until April 6) we would be happy to help with providing items again this year. I think the most challenging thing last year was having a clear understanding of what was needed and who was providing it. We brought several items that didn’t end up being needed as other teams also agreed to bring them for the teams we had been communicating with. Not such a big deal as long as everyone gets what they need in the end.

Part of this is teams that request assistance, sometimes request assistance in multiple places which can cause overlapping assistance. I sadly don’t have a way to solve this. I can’t tell teams: “hey please only fill out the form and work with the team assigned.”

I have noticed that there are some teams that over ask (?) which causes issues too. It’s hard. :frowning:

No worries - we will still be happy to help, and if things go unused it’s not that big of a deal. I’d rather have too much that have a team that isn’t supported. It would be great to have a way to share more efficiently though :slight_smile:

What about the possibility of each team who can bring things putting together a list of what they will bring and then posting it (at the pit admin for their respective fields perhaps). If teams in need knew which teams they could go to for support and which field they are on it might be helpful. Not sure pit admin is the best location, but just one thought.

It would also be helpful if there was a way to keep the list of currently available items updated (i.e. once the table that we bring is loaned out it is removed from the list of available parts). This might require some kind of digital format that all teams could access. I wonder if there is a way to get a tab added to the event app or on the firstinspires.org website for each division. Just tossing ideas out.

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5892 has a set of metric toolboxes with screws we got donated last year, and we’ve loaned our entire pit to SteamPunk twice already. Some day I hope to get our team to -compete- at Worlds…

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I think your idea is awesome! I believe the execution of it requires a few people dedicated to running it the whole length of champs.

I actually had a similar idea, but FIRST would need to execute it or multiple teams. I mentor a team at worlds.

International Assistance Program
Goals:

  • Provide a place for teams to drop off loan-able items (tables, batteries, battery carts, shelves, etc.)
  • Provide a place for teams to borrow items for the day or all of worlds
  • Provide a place for teams to pick up the loaned items

Execution:

  • Send out a form for FRC that would allow teams to “assist others” or “request assistance” and indicate items willing to loan out
    • Maybe include an option to be indicated as an “Assistance Pit” that has extra tools / items to lend out
  • Coordinate with teams assisting others to:
    • Label all items with team name and number
    • Drop off items during load in at a designated area
      • Hopefully all items are pre-checked in via the form, but add items as needed
  • Coordinate with teams requesting assistance to pick up items
  • Keep a list of extra items for teams to come check for needs
  • At end of competition, request all loan items be dropped off at designated area and teams pick up the items they own.

Note: Fun idea to think about but would be hard to execute properly.

If I were HQ, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for teams’ stuff. I love the idea, but I think something like this would have to stay coordinated between teams.

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Tbh, I don’t know how reasonable it is for teams to do my idea either. I overall think it is a fun idea to think about but would be extremely hard to execute properly.

We’re grateful for the wonderful teams that are willing to help, and shared a post with equipment we would be glad to get help with.

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5892 should have this covered…

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Hi everyone!

I have posted the 2024 Worlds Assistance Form in a new CD thread. I want to make sure that we do not mix up 2023 and 2024 assistance.

2024 World Assistance Post - HERE

2024 World Assistance Form