[BB]: What do you Think (two parts)

Part 1:

Good Afternoon Teams,

On the 17th I asked for your input about what to call the events that evolve from the Michigan District Pilot and you were good enough to share your opinions. The term still hasn’t been finalized (I’ll let you know when it is.), but whenever it is discussed around here I can say “the teams tell me they prefer districts”.

Now I have another question for you. (Two actually, but to keep the discussions separate I’m going to post them in separate blogs.)

Which comes first, FRC or FTC? No, this isn’t a question of value. It’s more of a chicken and the egg type question. Which happens more often? A FRC team is formed in an area and eventually FTC teams pop up, or a FTC team is formed and eventually one or more FRC teams develop in the area? Other than building an interactive map showing FRC & FTC team growth over time and space, (which we don’t have the time or manpower to do) we don’t have any easily accessible data to answer that question. So, what is your experience?

I’ll tally your answers Tuesday afternoon and get back to the group working on the long range plan.
Thank you.

131 days until Kickoff
See you then!

Part 2:

Good Afternoon Teams,

Next question. How should we geographically define overlap of as it relates to accessibility of FIRST programs? The group working on the long range plan want to define a measurement of distance between FRC and FTC programs that makes it possible for students to have access to both programs (to participate on both teams at some point). How far apart can teams be and still have students participate in both? How far is too far?

Again, I’ll tally your answers Tuesday afternoon and get back to the group working on the long range plan.

131 days until Kickoff
See you then!

The second question is actually interesting as it is basically asking for the sphere of influence of a team (ignoring that these spheres are really more like cylinders).

How far apart can teams be and still have students participate in both? How far is too far?

This is a combination of the population density, resources, the economic status, and the size of the team. Population density plays the major factor since you have a limited amount of resources with which to inspire students, the more dense the area you are in the smaller an area you can affect due to your finite resources. Economic resources of area matter because students are less likely to be able to travel a great distance regularly if the economic conditions are bad (gas costs money and when money is tight robotics is more likely to be cut than groceries or electricity). Finally the size of the team is a factor due to the fact that much recruiting is done word of mouth. It also plays into the resources the team has available to it (more parents could potentially increase sponsors/mentors or more students could deplete the finite resources)

And then we have the exceptions to these rules, the teams that flourish despite low population density, poor economic conditions, low resources… etc. But we can disregard them since they are outliers and I presume FIRST wants to see the average rather than the exceptional.

Now, as far as how you turn those factors into a radius… I’m gonna leave that to smarter people.

I hope they’re not going to be making any major decisions based on crowdsourced information about program growth, particularly when the data they’re looking for already exists.

Sometimes, though, it seems like Mark McLeod knows more about the growth and history of FIRST programs that FIRST does. This is one of those times.

Man, with these questions, I’d love to see their database… :grin:

IF we can assume there is a database of some sorts that contains information like geographical location, team start date, team end date (for teams that are no longer around), and team level (FTC, FRC, even FLL and Jr. FLL), it would certainly be possible to write a program to determine “influence”. For starters, group the teams by zip code and determine what was created first in that area - FRC or FTC. Then you can also compute data like the number of FRC teams present when the first FTC team registered, or vise-verse. Of course, this could be even more interesting if you had GPS coordinates for each team, then you could work off of number of miles difference very easily.

The harder question to answer is the second one. In my mind, the only one who can define overlap are those students who have participated in both FTC and FRC, and figuring the distance between those two teams (removing outliers where a student obviously moved to a different city/state across country)… and I’m pretty sure there’s not a database with anything approaching a comprehensive list of that information.

For the sake of answering these questions from my team’s perspective… we haven’t really had much interaction with FTC at all, and none of our students have participated on an FTC team. That makes it really difficult to give him any meaningful feedback at all…

FTC Teams? I can’t think of one within 100 miles of our team.

Vex on the other hand…

First question: Iowa is easy. The newest FRC team is 967 (only three FRC teams in the state.) There are 51 FTC teams - most of those formed in the last three years. However, I’m not sure how much influence the FRC teams had on the formation of the FTC teams.

How far apart can teams be and still have students participate in both? How far is too far?

Well for FTC teams, I wouldn’t want to travel for more than 15 minutes to get to a meeting. For FRC I’d say 30-45 minutes is the max travel time I would do. Then again, this is from my experience in my area, where there are multiple FTC teams at multiple highschools, and one FRC team that covers the whole district.

One limiting factor mostly for FTC is that a lot of FTC teams are school clubs, and cannot exist without the school. If an FTC team is a club, than no student from outside that school may be present at those meetings due to liability issues. FRC doesn’t have this problem because it is possible for FRC teams to flourish without being linked to a single school.

Of course, we all know that answers on Chief Delphi are not likely to be seen by FIRST HQ. If you want to share your opinion - and you should! - look for an official FIRST communications channel.

About that chicken and egg: It is perfectly clear that the Egg came first. It just wasn’t a Chicken that laid it. :rolleyes:

I can only say what happened with Exploding Bacon and Team BAD. We both had FRC teams and then added FTC teams later to give the kids something to work on during the fall.

As for overlap? I’m thinking more about time overlap than distance. We run into issues when kids who have been doing FTC all fall want to morph into FRC while the FTC season is still going. Either they neglect FTC, or they don’t join into the FRC build until late in the season and they have a harder time getting up to speed. We finally had a rule last year that if you wanted to drive the FTC bot, you could not apply to be the FRC driver. We did two years with both FTC and FRC teams making it to World Champs. We only had 20 or so kids on the team at the time. It was very hard to maneuver.

As for distance…I have families that drive close to an hour to come to meetings. (and every night during build)

Do FTC teams use TIMS? If so, it seems like this information could be collected by a question in TIMS and be required at registration. “What influenced the start of your team?” FTC Team XXXX, FRC Team XXXX, with the numbers being a drop down lists.

I like the idea! I think a dropdown would have too many options, though. It wouldn’y be to be very easy to use. I would use a plain text field or a combobox

Here are some rough numbers at a glance:

  • 60% of FTC towns have had FRC teams at one time or another
  • 43% of FRC towns have had FTC teams
    40% of FTC teams would seem to have no probable affiliation with any FRC teams.

Of the others that could have an affiliation I imagine that many of those in large cities are probably overly influenced by the abundence of other nearby companion FTC teams.

Don, I wouldn’t be to quick to say that no one at HQ reads CD. “They” do. A lot of us Senior Mentors are on here regularily and we bring back a lot of your inputs. And I agree, seek out as many channels as you can, FSMs, RDs and frcteams@usfirst.org.[/quote]

“not likely” != “no one”.

If anyone here on CD believes that the best way to communicate with FIRST headquarters is to post on CD, they need to re-think that.