Like a moth to a flame……better yet…from Don Quixote… “….march into hell for a heavenly cause”
Why would anyone want to deny some kids the thrill, excitement and empowerment that they worked so hard to enjoy and obviously got from the BB IQ competition this past May?
I was in that little Gymnasium in Manchester NH back when FIRST was a contest between lightweight bot’s with only 35 teams and a handful of students….brave kids willing to try something new and exciting….before it became a mainstream success.
I saw the same excitement there as I did 7 years later in the BBIQ pits…I saw passion and engagement and a celebration of the empowerment that comes to those who work hard to bring an idea, their idea, to life….I witnessed the awesome courage required to display the 3 dimensional physical embodiment of their idea, and risk probable failure in doing so…Courage, hard work and excitement….risk taking, knowing and doing…sharing, helping and celebrating…no game, no contest and certainly no person or group of people have a monopoly on those things…These are available for all to enjoy in ways they choose……it is the freedom exercised by FIRST competitors, BBIQ competitors and all other competitors in the wide diversity of venues available to them….Or are there those who would waste their time arguing that Baseball is better for the country than Lacrosse?
Tilting at windmills.
We should be teaching students not to make assumptions….in engineering as well as in life.
Folks like Dan (BSMFIRST) or Lucien (Natchez) demonstrate open mindedness about BB and FIRST and the hundreds of other engineering competitions to choose from.…
This speaks volumes about them as people and as gracious professionals. Dan and Lucien and others like them have an open mind because they work hard to keep their minds open.
Sounds simple enough right?
Keeping an open mind takes a lot of effort. Open minded people serve as good examples. We would all do well to pay particular attention to them. We should all practice keeping an open analytical mind about the things we DO and THINK about.
The practice of adopting, believing in, or voicing strong opinions about ideas or methods of which we have no empirical data is frowned upon in science and engineering… and it is the fuel that feeds the fires of hatred and ignorance in this already troubled world….
The common message of ALL engineering competitions, and there are hundreds, and hundreds more coming yearly, is simply this: Think the problem out before you act on it.
Accomplished scientists and engineers test theories and hypotheses.
When engineers think hard, develop mechanical concepts and then test them…they are defining themselves as professionals. Your family physician has taken promises to “Do no harm”…your mentoring engineer promises to… “Make no assumptions”.
I’d like to refer everyone who bothers to read this thread to a very exciting and illuminating, engineering website.
This site contains the course notes for the MIT Design and Manufacturing I , ME course. These notes were authored by Professor Alex Slocum…Alex runs the MIT 2.007 course…a course that was conceived by Woodie and served as the inspiration not only for FIRST, but for the process of learning engineering by DOING engineering at hundreds of universities worldwide.
If you are a teacher, then please, take the time to read the megabytes of wisdom offered in these notes! If you are a student of engineering design…then you would be unwise to miss this opportunity. If you are a practicing technical professional then you’ll enjoy Alex’s POV.
One of the key underlying points Alex makes is that good design is “Deterministic Design”. Deterministic Design is an engineering creation process founded on the scientific method. A principle stating that you cannot know something to be true unless you perform the experiment that validates the assumption. He terms these experiments BLE’s or bench level experiments…but the point remains constant, good robust designs come from ideas that have been tested ……not from assumptions.
Alex’s philosophy inspired the creation of a BattleBots IQ educational website, www.bbiq.com
BB and FIRST are experiments……(refer to all of the above) If you haven’t done the experiments…you don’t have the data. Once you have the data…the conclusions you reach are all yours….
I try to offer points and counter points, not to champion one experiment over the other, but rather to keep the river of ideas flowing…and to break down the “Beaver Dams” of opinion and assumption.
Good and bad are subjective concepts with regard to robots. …but facts are worth pursuing in the quest for any objective…
Here is some data gleaned from experiments my students and I have performed.
1.) All BattleBots are not catastrophically damaged during a BattleBots event….in fact most are not catastrophically damaged during an event…and they go home happy and no worse for the experience. We are currently building our 3rd and 4th BB. Intelligent designers insure their robots have “Mouth guards, shoulder pads and Locktite on their nuts.” These machines are built to score points and to absorb mechanical energy…remember, it is often necessary to win up to 8 matches in order to claim the silver nut.
2.) All robots break during competition. That’s why we have machine shops and spare parts at the FIRST competition sites and in the BBIQ Pits.
3.) FIRST is about Inspiration and Recognition, and that is a good thing. FIRST and BBIQ are different “Experiments”.
4.) BattleBots IQ is about education. BBIQ is a student centered program that recognizes the benefits of learning through active participation and recognizes the educational benefits of failure. BBIQ teachers and engineering mentors sign a registration form attesting to the fact that the BBIQ robots were wholly designed and built by students….not by teachers or mentors…as I’ve pointed out, this does not make BBIQ better or worse than FIRST, It’s just a different experiment. It’s like shop class used to be…but these are not bird houses! (Although I love building bird houses)
5.) As an educator responsible for the emotional and social well being of the students under my charge, I see no difference in the “Crowds” at either event…I’ve seen good and bad sportsmanship all my life…the “Bell Curves” remain constant…my son and his friends are in my class, and on our BBIQ engineering team!.
6.) And finally, hatred and ignorance are born and cultivated by people, not by sumo robot programs, soccer playing robot programs, BattleBots or FIRST or any other engineering program designed to celebrate designing, thinking or being like an engineer.
We should all visit again 10 years from now…FIRST, BB and the many versions of mechanized competition that will follow will be markedly different. They will all evolve to meet the needs and expectations of the participants. They will all improve, and the levels of sophistication will be extraordinary. Witness the birth of home computing in the late 70’s and early 80’s…I still have a Trash 80….anyone have a Sinclair? Look at basketball, first played in Worcester Massachusetts with 11 players on a team and no dribbling….
In closing I am willing to risk the following statements in an effort to counter the bias and deconstruction of communication I am witnessing on this and other forums….and to “Raise the bar…of gracious professionalism”…
There is nothing to FEAR about FIRST or BBIQ…fear is born of ignorance. These are mechanized competitions that allow portals for a wide variety of learning and doing engineering activities for a wide audience of students. There is room, even a necessity for a wider diversity of mechanized competitions.
We need MORE venues like FIRST or BBIQ….not less. We need people to celebrate and embrace and to create the widening concept of mechanized sports, We do not need folks willing to force (unfavorable) comparisons or fabricate facts. And we decidedly do not need people actively polarizing issues and aggravating each others sensibilities with poorly worded “Polls” or posts that only serve to support the growing bias towards robot games that are not like nor intended to be like FIRST.
The things we like or choose to do, should not be defined as the “Best Thing” by making something else the “Bad Thing”……This is important for kids to understand, and adults should not use assumptions and opinions to appeal to the loyalty of children…This is true of fans on both sides of this fence.
I love what both of these programs, as well as many other engineering programs, are doing for schools and education in this country…and I love showing my students that they can exercise choice, do the experiments, and then decide for themselves.
Good luck to all of you who are attending the FIRST nationals! Play, break, win or loose…enjoy what all of these programs are really about…enjoy thinking, being gracious in victory and defeat, and remember…you learn as much from failures (or more) than you do from success!
Be gracious professionals in everything you do…on and off the robot playing field!