So I have been looking at TBA more recently and starting to work back through the past several years. 2 questions come to mind.
Who would you say are the top 12 teams of the last 5 years (since 2011).
This is actually just my second year in FRC, but I am wanting to know more about which teams people look up to.
My list: (Not in order, and based almost exclusively on TBA insights page)
1678 - three years in a row on Einstein
2056 - three years in a row winning IRI, and lots and lots of regionals.
1023 - lots of banners
EDIT - 1983
2nd Question: How do these teams CONTINUE winning for so long? What kind of team culture do they promote and what practices do they use?**
While we could debate endlessly on what teams should and shouldn’t be on this list, I think the list was merely there for example, the real question being WHAT these (and other) “powerhouse” teams do to sustain a high level of competitiveness from year to year.
Also, at least from the teams listed above, they all operate differently. From what I know of top-tier teams, there are a few common pratices that most (but not all) share:
Time: Top teams simply meet for many more hours than mid-tier teams do. However, don’t fall into the trap of working harder instead of working smarter.
Drive practice: Most mid-tier FRC teams have much better robots than they do drivers. There is a significant resource barrier here; periennial Einstein contenders usually have a practice robot and at least partial field access for tons and tons of drive practice.
Strategic design: A lot of top tier teams share very similar strategic design processes. Watch any of the seminars/lectures that Karthik has on this topic.
There’s a definite bias in your list toward teams that were successful this year as opposed to the past 4.
I think my list would have to go: 1) 254
Two world championships as well as multiple phenomenal robots losing tragically in divisional eliminations and numerous regional victories. 2) 1678
Three years in a row on Einstein as well as obviously their 2015 World Championship. In 2012 they were good as well. 3) 2056
Beyond their staggering regional win streak, 2056 also had 3 Einstein appearances in this timeframe and also four IRI victories. 4) 1114
1114 has had some of the best robots in the world the past 5 years but has been unable to convert that into a world championship despite their amazing efforts. 3 Einstein appearances and two IRI victories are among their accomplishments. Additionally, they received their World Chairmans Award during this timeline, in 2012. 5) 118
118 was one of the 2015 World Champions, and also made Einstein in 2012. They’ve consistently built incredible robots the past 5 years, always being a lock in divisional eliminations regardless of the game. 6) 469
469 won the 2014 World Championship, and additionally made Einstein in 2013, while being a deadly threat in eliminations each other year. 469 additionally has two Michigan State Championships, and is the first team from Michigan on my list, closely followed by… 7) 67
The 2011-2015 timeline leaves out HOT’s greatest achievements, but even since then they’ve been absolutely phenomenal, reaching Einstein once, and losing in division finals almost every other year in this timeframe. 67 also has won two Michigan State Championships during this timeframe. 8) 987
The High Rollers have reached Einstein three times in the past 5 years, losing in division finals once and quarterfinals once. A few mechanical failures here and there have cost them the chance at a World Championship, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them there in 2016. 9) 33
33 is one of the few teams on this list to have never won a World Championship, even though they’ve been inches away. They made Einstein Finals in 2013, and won the Michigan State Championship twice during the 2011-2015 timeframe. 10) 148
The RoboWranglers build exceptional machines each year, reaching Einstein twice in the past 5 seasons, and being a major contender every other year. 11) 1983
Skunkworks have always been the powerhouse of the Pacific Northwest region, and even in recent years as other teams have caught up, 1983 still finds ways to win. 1983 has won both PNW District Championships, and has been knocked out in divisional eliminations at championships numerous times. 12) 973
The Greybots have built some incredible machines and have an overwhelming desire to win. 973 won a World Championship in 2011 and also reached Einstein in 2014. In the other years, they lost earlier in eliminations, but still produced incredible machines.
It’s also worth noting that younger teams are bound to be underrepresented in this, despite being exceptional almost every year they’ve existed (4488, 3476, etc.) Honorable Mentions:
1717, 111, 16, 1640, 1477, 25, 971, 359, 1538, 27
I have one easy answer for you Mentors. Now before we enter the mentor vs. student designed war, that is not what I am talking about. Mentors on successful teams make their teams successful for a number of reasons.
Mentor consistency - teams at the top have multiple mentors who have been involved with the program for many years. Not only does this help to have a healthy program, but the internal knowledge base is huge (and often an overlooked) resource. Knowing that you will have the same base year to year makes it easy to stay at the top of your game.
2)Mentors who were on FIRST teams as students - some of the most successful teams have a stable of mentors that were also on teams themselves. This adds to the knowledge base, but when it comes to connecting with the students in meaningful ways it is hard to replace direct experience.
3)Mentor driven resources - Having a bunch of mentors can do loads for your team resources. The absolute BEST way to get significant sponsorship from companies is to have internal advocates. Engineering employees who work with the team are your biggest chance at securing the funds required to keep performing at that level
4)More mentors, More attention to detail - In order to succeed at the highest levels of FIRST you need people who can help focus on the details of the design. I am not saying they design each sub-system but it makes a big difference if you have 1-2 dedicated engineering mentors guiding students on each sub-system than just 1-2 guiding students on the whole robot.
Mentor Network - It is no secret that many of the top teams in FIRST are friends and even if it is not a formal collaboration, conversations between mentors happen during build season. Many of these friendships have been growing over many years driven by social events outside and in the evenings after events.
Mentor age - This one is not as important as some of the others, but on many of the “best” teams you will find young mentors. 22-30 is the sweet spot for getting mentor who can throw themselves into the team, without regard to life outside of robots. Typically young mentors (ie. Millennials) don’t have families they are providing for, strict schedules they need to keep, etc. This is not to say that older mentors don’t add alot of value to teams but we are strictly speaking about top teams right now.
When it comes to being a top team the easy way to look at it is you need people who are dedicated enough to the program to put the work and time in required to keep achieving at that high level.
This may be my personal opinion but I hope others agree with me. I can’t really make a list but my #1 team by far has to be 2056. Correct me if I’m wrong, but based on what I saw on the blue alliance, they started in 2007 and have NEVER lost a regional. Despite having an only decent Einstein record, They have to be the best team in FIRST. They always rank super high and always win. They’re making a habit of winning IRI and they’ve won every regional they’ve been to. They may not have the best robots every year but their amazing game day quality makes up for it. If I had one team to model my team after, it’d be 2056. I actually am planning on doing a 2056 design project this fall. Sadly, they have never won an FRC championship, but even the #2 or 3 team on my list, being 1114, has only won 1 championship and that was way back in 2008. So all in all, my fanboy in me has to put 2056 at the top of my list.
This is a great list that I wholeheartedly endorse! The hardest $@#$@#$@#$@# problem is convincing students that experience actually matters!
A team doesn’t need to have all or even most of these to be successful. I think we have about half. I would add one other:
Mentor-“guided” processes: What I mean here is not that mentors need to actually guide the processes, but rather mentor provided the legacy guides that help a team go down a similar path each year, but also help head off going down dead ends. If the mentors don’t provide that, a team can get off track too often.
One thing I will say about 1983 is that their robot is rarely the absolute best in the PNW. it’s nearly always in the top 5, but not always the best. their success comes with knowing how to play well with others, making robots that don’t break, and fantastic scouting. That and some luck with their division competitions this year- there were 3 world-class robots at 2 of their district events- themselves, 3663 and 1318. by picking 1318 every time, they essentially locked in the win at those events.
Some use championship success as the metric, others use regional/district wins, and as mentioned beautiful engineering.
There are a great number of teams that can be on this list.
But without a doubt,
in the last 5 years, and arguably of all time, there is no doubt that
254, 469, 987, 1114 and 2056 are on this list.
If its the last 3 years, I’d add 1678.