Best FIRST-Related Advice Ever Received?

Whether it’s something small like how to comment code, or something large like how to present to a potential sponsor, we’ve all received some great FIRST-related advice at some point!

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve learned through FIRST?

I’ll start: measure twice, cut once!

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Dont mentor in college, volunteer instead.


Not so much first related, but one Kevin Ross would always remind us of back when I was a student:

"Its okay to choose a college major… but for god’s sakes if you get there and dont like your major, change it.


You don’t need a complex robot to win an event. You need a robot that your team can build, which can play the parts of the game that matter, and that you can drive well.


Single DOF arm goes brrrrrr.

yes, this is also my piece of advice.


Keep it simple, silly.


If you’re more than one “should” deep in a design, you’re in trouble. Prototype it, test it, and confirm it.


Not received from a person, but reality and experience has told me:

  • If you can’t control it reasonably well manually, software probably won’t help. Software can’t fix bad mechanisms.

Ignore the age requirement


I’m really glad I didn’t take that advice.

“Don’t vomit into the mic, just talk” - @Taylor

Also much of what Simon Sinek has to say.


Advice I continue to ignore no matter how many times I’m given it…


I regret ignoring it.

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Be consistent in whatever your robot does. Inconsistency will not get you noticed.

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I don’t.

If you choose to mentor and continue learning from FRC while in college, my advice is to work with a team with a strong, sustainable program in a capacity where your presence is not necessary for the team’s success. Also, join a team that is better than the team you graduated from. Share what you have, learn everything you can from them, and let your experiences from your HS team and this new team begin to mold your unique style.

Tl;Dr: find the nearest powerhouse to your college, ask if you can hang out with them, and soak in all they have to offer while sharing the little experience you do have with their students (while making sure you’re not stepping on toes).


Steal from the best, design the rest.

And topical given the current climate of COTS swerve… Don’t use a new drivetrain concept without at least a year of offseason development.


A quote from the esteemed Mr. Eric Stokely: “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”


I agree with this - though I think it can depend on your program of study. As someone who was studying architecture, and who tried to mentor a team in my first year - The team really seemed to like me, and I don’t get why, I could barely make it there. I mean I did my best with the time I had, but it was so little time :frowning: . After the first year my friends were like, bro, you’re just going to volunteer from now on, and I was like, yeah… ok, I guess you all are right, and that’s what I did. It was better for me that way. I don’t think I was able to be a good mentor with my program of study - and for parts I had a job too, and I would have epicly failed during those semesters. The experience I had volunteering turned out to be an excellent training for my current job though :stuck_out_tongue: Not architecture - but PDP for FRC in Turkey :slight_smile:

Furthering this point, it also can depend on passion too. I’ve had many mentor friends who quite halfway through college because they realized the part of robotics and engineering they loved was working through the problems themselves, rather than growing students.

There is nothing unjust about this realization, just one they made. We look up to our mentors so much that we want to be like them, but it’s important to realize that sometimes it doesn’t line up with what you love. Passions can change and fluctuate and college is a wonderful time to figure out what those are. The ones I happened to find were teaching and running efficient teams.

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Slight Mod of this:
Steal the best, buy the rest.
Meaning look at the best way whatever task was accomplished in the past and use as much learning as you can from those who already did the work so you don’t waste your time starting at zero to build the wheel. Buy the rest is simple, if you can buy it in the COTS era you probably can’t design and build it cheaper so don’t waste effort here either.

Additional advice:
If it can’t be done with brains it can’t be done with hours. - Putting a lot of time is not always productive and can be counter productive, so be wise with how you use your time. Also know when to give up and change course because pouring more time into a bad idea won’t make it work.


Bill Beatty’s Three Most Important Robot Components.


Let’s see if I can boil 5 years of rookie team experience down to some bullet points.

  • If it can’t consistently score points, you haven’t built a robot you’ve built a sculpture.
  • The biggest challenge of FRC is to scope your project effectively.
  • Break your stuff in the shop, not on the field
  • It’s amazing how much value you can generate through a clean team brand
  • It’s important to self-validate your hard work, because sometimes you won’t get that validation from other teams or judges.
  • Put more energy into your family wellbeing than school, more energy into school than robotics, and put as much energy into robotics as possible.

I’ve taken this directly from JVN’s blog. It was one of my senior quotes and I think about it a lot.