[BB] 9/20/11 "Up Up and Away"

Good Afternoon Teams,

I’m blogging early this week because I’m getting on an airplane this evening in my never ending quest to bring the latest technology to FRC. Frank, Kate and I are heading out to explore new technology for 2015 and beyond. If we come up with anything interesting, I probably won’t be able to tell you about it until the kit of part reveal in 2015. Cross your fingers. Things could get interesting.

The GDC met this past weekend and rocked the workshop. It looks like we have the concept for the 2013 game. Because of some monumental elements that you can’t see until January 5, 2013 we had a great deal of fun thinking up game names that you will never hear from me. We have a ways to go before the game is ready, but that was the whole point of pushing so hard this year to get a year ahead. The 2012 game is in the final stages and we now have almost a full year to test, tweak and tidy up loose ends on the 2013 game. My thanks to the long suffering, hardworking, hysterically funny members of the GDC who got a little punchy after a full weekend locked in the basement workshop at headquarters. I promise there will be more coffee ice cream at the October on site meeting.

Looking forward, now is as good a time as any to ask ourselves if the existing FRC award structure is supporting our mission and values. To that end, I would like team member/mentor input. Please encourage everyone you know in FRC to complete this survey by Wednesday, September 28th at noon Eastern time.

Marketing is looking for FRC team members who have repurposed items in constructive, unique or amazing ways to feature in an upcoming national publication. Please send marketing@usfirst.org a photo and brief description of your creation by this Wednesday, September 21st and if we choose to include your design we’ll be in touch for more details.

Does your team have new mentors this year, or do you know about an FRC team with rookie mentors? Please let them know about the upcoming Senior Mentor call “FRC Mentor Orientation 101”. Senior Mentor Mike Henry and expert Mike Siegel will answer questions about team organization, member recruitment and team registration this Thursday 9/22 at 7pm Eastern time. Call 1-866-951-1151 and use conference room number 7052714 that night to participate.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is now accepting applications from young women in the US and Puerto Rico in grades 9-12 for the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, which recognizes young women at the high school level for their aspirations and achievements in technology and computing! .

109 days until Kickoff
See you then!


My God there are so many sentences with “special” sounding words! :yikes:

I got about 30% through the survey and quit. There’s way too many questions.

There’s a question on every award but the Safety Award, and then one summary page at the end. I think they’re trying to simulate the length of the awards ceremony.


It took me 14 minutes to: start answering the questions, and then decide to scroll through the entire survey before deciding it wasn’t worth the effort vs the amount of time it would take vs information collected.

I think I know what they are trying to do here, but this is a lazy survey.
The answer choices are all the same, regardless of whether it is an individual award or a team award. There is no acknowledgment that “winning” is a group effort. The questions about Finalist are the same as Champion (do teams really “try” to win Finalist trophy?) Why are some awards defined but most not? No questions about how some awards earn a slot at the CMP.

I have been a judge. I have been on a team as a mentor. I understand FIRST wants to take a look at revamping the awards. I just don’t know what they are going to glean from this poorly worded, way too long survey that will really help them. There are other ways to do this that could provide valuable feedback. FIRST uses test teams and selected input for some areas of the program. IMHO they should be doing the same for this topic.

I will be interested to see the response rate. I have feedback. I just can’t give it in this format.

The survey goes a bit quicker when you get halfway into it and then realize that answering everything is not required. Still rather repetitious. I think asking the person taking the survey what their “Top 3” and “Bottom 3” with regards to each question would be a better way of finding out what’s important.

The survey was way to long. I did it, motivated only by the fact that as I was doing it, I came up with a better way to ask the same question.

I encourage all FIRST girls to apply for the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. I found out about it through Bill’s Blog last year, applied, and was the only sophomore to win the National Award. Of the thirty five national winners, over twenty of us were affiliated with FIRST, including a National Deans List Finalist. It was truly a great experience. In fact, Im typing this on the computer they gave me. It can really open young women to more opportunities, global organizations, more women like them, and free stuff!

My favorite was, “Has your team ever won an official FRC event?”

Answer: yes

“Do you feel winning this award was worth the effort?”
“How much effort did you put in to winning this award?”
“Does your team hope to win this award?”
“Does your team make a special attempt to win this award?”

Answer: Not at all. :stuck_out_tongue:

I just finished the survey and it is no less than brutal. Mindlessly going through it took me about 30 minutes. I am sorry, but it really was a horrible survey. I don’t think FIRST will get the volume they were hoping for, nor the insight they were looking for.

Here’s a better format: Pick the 3 awards you think promote and agree with the vision of FIRST the most, and give us one detail from a dropdown of why you think they do that. Also pick the 3 you think don’t accomplish this, with similar details.

Sometimes less is more.

That was painful.

Agreed. The format is just brutal.

I gave up 5 minutes after I realized I was only 11% done


If they are looking at new technology stuff for potential use in 2015, good luck with that. A lot of development can happen between 2011 and 2015. It will be old technology by 2015. How long do you guys keep your Smart Phones before you’re ready for the newest edition? 4 years?

Survey - I filled it out. Glad I had a couple of cups of coffee to keep me company. If we ask our team members (students and parents) to fill this survey out, they won’t know a lot of the awards we’ve won or when. They also won’t know what the awards are and what their purpose is. I would imagine that in September of the new year with the new season a few months away, that the members of many of the teams will not know all of the information needed to fill out the survey. But - it seems opinion-based anyway and everyone has one of those.


Two years for me…but I assume that Apple has a long, long time invested in making sure my iPhone runs like a champ. I’d much rather FIRST ship us a control system that is less-than-cutting-edge but with superior performance in certain key areas (cost, field sync speed, robust construction and operation, and packaging with regard to the robot, not necessarily in that order).

And yes, long survey is long. I think they’ll get more value from my comments than from the checkboxes.

I had to see what everyone was talking about…and yes, the survey UI is dreadful.

They should probably have just put it all on a minimal number of pages, and employed a Likert scale.

The survey is poorly laid out. Some questions should have just been yes/no. The repitition of questions & answers was cumbersome. I did finish the survey in under 1/2 hour.

On another note, “monumental elements” really stands out in my mind.

And some of the answers seemed to be on the wrong scale. Paraphrasing: “sort of” is not an appropriate response to “How much work would you put in?”

On another note, “monumental elements” really stands out in my mind.

The sentence “The GDC…rocked the workshop” seems to mesh with the “monumental” idea. Is anyone else thinking of giant carved stone faces of Dean, Woodie, Bill, and John?

Between a rock and a hard place… ROCK LOBSTER!

The title of the post was ‘up, up and away’.

Maybe we’ll be lifting heavy objects?

It’s too early for game hints.

Yes, the survey was terribly constructed. Uggh.

As for technology, I agree with BillFred - we don’t need cutting edge, we need simplicity, reliability and ease of use. I’d much rather that FIRST work to solidify what we use now than making efforts to find new technology.

Since Bill mentioned “supporting our mission and values”, I’d really rather that FIRST* were working to make it so that every team could participate in at least 2 events. ($6,000 is a heck of a lot for 25 minutes of game time in a single regional!) Remember that 3/4 of teams do not attend the Championship and a huge number (nearly half?) attend only one regional.

-Mr. Van
Coach, Robodox*