Award Recognition for Non-STEM Mentors in FRC

We are currently petitioning to help bring more recognition to non-engineering mentors within the FIRST community. In addition to the community’s skilled pool of engineering mentors, many teams have mentors who help with organization, financial management, community outreach, presentation, and the many other aspects that make a well rounded FIRST team. These mentors work behind the scenes to lead their teams, but currently have no opportunity for award recognition in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Join us in the campaign for NEMO recognition!

To sign the petition, follow the link below:
Award Recognition for Non-STEM Mentors in FRC

While this is admirable I don’t really see how these mentors aren’t currently recognized.

Chairman’s Award
Engineering Inspiration
Entrepreneurship Award
Team Spirit Award
Imagery Award

First recognizing our team would not be where it is today without our non-stem mentors. But, it not like First spends a lot of time recognizing any team level mentor with awards. The only team level mentor award I am aware of is the Woodie Flowers Award.

I almost forgot. All registered mentors get a nifty pin and certificate suitable for framing.

Because those are team awards, and are often student driven, with mentor help.

The WFA recognizes and singles out the engineering mentor for their contributions. I have previously thought of pushing FIRST toward creating an award just like this, especially since my mom, Kathie K., is one of the co-founders of NEMO. I already have a letter written that I will likely send to FIRST in support of this petition.

This raises a question I haven’t thought of before… Have teams gotten a WFFA for non-technical mentors?

I know the WFFA is strongly biased towards technical mentors (just read the description or judging criteria in the rulebook), but it seems to me that a well written essay for a deserving non technical mentor could win as well. I had the chance to read the nomination my students submitted for me this year, and I know the focus of the submission was communication, leadership, and impact - technical aspects were really a sideshow. I also know the 2015 WFA winner quite well, and his impact on FIRST here in Minnesota has not been technical at all - communication, leadership, organization, sustained growth, mentoring support, all amazing aspects he brings to the table. But from my experience he doesn’t really get into the technical stuff.

Thinking of all of the WFFA’s I’ve seen in our area I don’t remember a single one of them having engineering contributions as reasoning for winning.

Our mentor won WFFA this year. He did not have anything to do with the engineering of the robot.

I think instead of recognizing more mentors we should recognize more students. And maybe do it a little better then a slip of paper.

I’m curious - as a Dean’s List Finalist - what kind of recognition would you like for students?

Here either. Usually it’s starting teams/sustaining teams/tremendous levels of volunteering.

I would like to see an award specifically designated for student technical contributions to the team. Not every award should be about leadership.

Well to start DLF needs to be slightly revised to make more students aim towards it as a goal.

Currently at the competition you get only a certificate. (I know in Canada they get a sweatshirt but that is besides the point) This is compared to WFFA where you get a beautiful trophy and blue banner.

They should atleast give DLF a nice trophy or two. Maybe a plaque for the team and a trophy for the student similar to other awards. The certificate while nice is nothing for your school to display and makes it seem like a very sub-par award. (My original certificate did not even have my named spelt right).

Another thing which is kinda odd is the gift bags which after the title is the coolest part of the award. The weird thing about them is they do not tell anyone about them. In fact I am sure there are tons of people here who did not realize FIRST gives out bags full of stuff to DLF. (Usually valued at around $250 this year they went a lot cheaper and id probably say it was $125ish). These bags should be given out at the regional/dcmp to once again show that the award is a bigger deal.

They also announce it towards the end after the obligatory after this point these awards qualify you for championships which is really deceiving. Yes you can go to CMP and most do. But, it makes it seem as if your team also gets to go.

Lastly they should make Dean’s List become about Engineering achievements and then create another award similar to what Deans list is now. Dean Kamen is known for his engineering not necessarily his leadership skills so it makes sense to have his name on the engineering one and someone elses name on the leadership one.

Just my 2¢

John Larock of 365 is the 2011 Championship WFA winner for his primarily non-STEM mentor role.

Check out the other winners on that site, hardly any of their technical expertise is mentioned. The award descriptions focus mostly on their organizational and inspirational achievements rather than robot or technical achievements.

Part of Dean’s List is engineering achievements, it’s just not the whole thing. It’s not even all that much. Sure, Dean is well known for his technical ability and his inventions… But that’s not how we know him. We know his as the founder of FIRST. We know him as an insanely passionate person. We know his as an inspiration. And that’s what Dean’s List celebrates. With the Dean’s List, FIRST is looking for someone passionate, someone fully invested in FIRST. Someone that is going to give back to the program for years to come. If that doesn’t describe Dean, I don’t know what does.

This would imply doing things for the sole purpose of DL; you shouldn’t change the way you act in FIRST for the sole purpose of DL

Another thing which is kinda odd is the gift bags which after the title is the coolest part of the award. The weird thing about them is they do not tell anyone about them. In fact I am sure there are tons of people here who did not realize FIRST gives out bags full of stuff to DLF. (Usually valued at around $250 this year they went a lot cheaper and id probably say it was $125ish). These bags should be given out at the regional/dcmp to once again show that the award is a bigger deal.

Again, the swagbag shouldn’t be the drive for the award; it’s meant to just be some cool stuff for the winners, donated (and I’m unaware what it included this year, but if it included the usual Beats headphones, those are at least 300$ right there; 2012 it also included a 100$ visa gift card and a 150$JCP gift card)

I’d also like to add that I’ve kept the flashlight from the award in my backpack for the last 4 years and it’s far and beyond one of the best small flashlights I’ve ever owned

They also announce it towards the end after the obligatory after this point these awards qualify you for championships which is really deceiving. Yes you can go to CMP and most do. But, it makes it seem as if your team also gets to go.

I’ve never gotten this impression in an awards ceremony/in my experience it’s usually announced BEFORE CA/RAS/EI. This puts it REALLY far up in importance; higher than “regular” awards. And in what I’ve seen, it’s usually held in the same regard as WFFA…

Lastly they should make Dean’s List become about Engineering achievements and then create another award similar to what Deans list is now. Dean Kamen is known for his engineering not necessarily his leadership skills so it makes sense to have his name on the engineering one and someone elses name on the leadership one.

More awards (just like more champs) dilutes the strength of other awards. In my experience, DL (should) takes into account all aspects of FIRST; I’ve always viewed it as ‘the student who best exemplifies the ideas and values of FIRST’, which, includes technical prowess.

2 things

  1. The gift bag has not had beats in it for a few years now.
    This year it included
    A nice FRC bag with Deans list embroidered on the front - The nicest item
    A nice travel mug that also says Deans list on it
    Cheap Headphones from amazon that cost around $25
    A $25 Amazon Gift Card
    and a Teddy Bear

  2. The prestige of EI and Chairmans motivate many teams to do outreach that they otherwise would not do. After a bit of outreach many teams realize how rewarding it realize is and continue. If making the Deans list award seem more prestigious therefore inspiring more motivated Student Leader then whats the issue? Who cares why someone was motivated to become a student leader if they are good at it, learn something, and inspire others then the award succeeded with its goal.

Please check your PMs.

If you found the award so lacking feel free to give it back, I’m sure there are hundreds, or thousands, of students who would appreciate the recognition and the honor.

  • Someone who has seen the deliberations for DL judging and the toll it takes on the judges and is beyond disgusted by the quoted post.

I never said I did not appreciate the honor. I am extremely proud to be a deans list finalist.

I would be doing the same things I do now whether this award existed or not. Revisions to the Dean’s List have little effect on me currently.

I said those things to hopefully inspire a few small revisions to the award to make it a bigger deal. Not in the finalists eyes but in those around them.

I think Dean’s list right now is fine to be honest. It does a good job recognizing students for their work. I’m not just speaking for myself either but most Dean’s List winners/finalists I know continue to stay involved in FIRST whether it be volunteering, mentoring, or other methods. If the goal of the award is to recognize true leaders in the FIRST community then it’s doing a good job at it because those past winners are still leading the way regardless of there being an award or not. The gift bag was cool, but it’s honestly the thing I cared least about when all is said and done.

In regards to WFA finalists being more prestigious than Dean’s List Finalist awards, I think that is fine. In Dean’s list, you are competing against other students with roughly the same level of experience. For WFA, the eventual winner is being compared to every other top mentor at the event with many applicants having decades of experience and working with teams. It’s usually a lifelong commitment that is being recognized so that’s why it’s probably more prestigious.

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If a team only does outreach to get an award, they’re missing the point. My team does outreach because it’s part of being in FIRST. It’s part of changing the culture. And it’s part of raising awareness and money for the team itself. One of my team’s Dean’s List Finalist’s a few years back watched kickoff her first year on the team, and walked away asking, not about the robot, but why a certain large company here in the cities wasn’t more involved with the program. By the end of the following summer, she had that company involved, sponsoring a hand full of teams, sponsoring local events, and bringing teams in-house to help with their own STEM-related events and outreach… That company is now part of our local CAB. I would say that’s just about the pinnacle of outreach… All done because she just understood what FIRST was all about.

From what I’ve seen on my team, Dean’s List is not a driving factor for the students. They’re part of the team and working towards their own goals and interests in technology, business, and leadershi. While all of the mentors hope our nominees win, we don’t submit them because of what they get when they win. We submit the nominations to recognize and thank those students for efforts above and beyond what is expected on the team.

+1 to this.

As a recent WFFA recipient, it is an honor to stand among many past WFFA recipients that were mentors when I was a student 10 years ago.

-Mike