Building just isn't a priority anymore

What I would suggest doing-at the competition and during the build season-is setting up some clear, understandable rules to everyone. Say, if you’re not doing x, or if you do y instead of z, then you’re off the team. You have 50 people on your team, I’m sure that getting rid of some people won’t hurt. As for the competitions, I suggest having a responsible student or so to control the people there. Tell them and the people in the stands that if the person finds you’re not doing something, you’re sent out of the stands. I know some teams that don’t allow students to even come to the competition if they don’t do what they’re supposed to do.

All in all, you need to take control over your team, via the lead mentor on your team. Set down some sturdy rules, and most importantly, enforce them.

We completely agree with you on this. But heres the problem: They’re all friends. They think we’re all jerks because we don’t care about being obnoxious in the stands. They go on bike rides, they have parties, they go laser tagging, they have their own drama circles, they do everything but focus on what the main part of FIRST is about (Science and Technology)

What they think when chains snap or the gears wear out, they think “Oh, the builders will just fix it they know what to do” and rely on that. Newsflash! There’s going to be max 4 people building next year’s robot. (If we’re lucky). Sooner or later theres going to be no one to rely on, and none of them realize this and don’t try to learn or go to the seminars. Half of them didn’t, and still don’t know what “Autonomous” means after we won a regional this year, and made the quarter finals in the other two.

I honestly have no hope for next season.

Our team is also like that, next year we will only have about 4 core members left after the seniors are gone. And past season we only really had about 6-8 people work on the robot itself. And the rest (10+ people) didn’t even bother to show up to meetings.

This coming season recruiting will be the key for us; being able to find people that are interesting into STEM and getting them into building/programming etc would be a big help. Try prompting at your school, look in the comp sci/woodshop/engineering classes for motivated students. And lay down a set of rules for everyone to abide to in terms of commitment.

In addition give people fun jobs to do in terms of building, we were able to gain a few members by letting them mill out parts(with instruction) on our milling machine and getting the “oh this is cool” response then they have been coming back.

Get an hour system in place, take only the top participants. The people who pour their heart and soul into the team/robot will usually show up on top (or they’ll forget to clock in/out because they’re there so much). Put it this way, myself and the other people in the top 5 had over 500 hours at the end of the season. DON’T TAKE EVERYONE TO REGIONALS! If they didn’t do any work then they don’t deserve the trip especially if they are not paying for the trip. You’ll find the cost to the team go down if you cut the people you haul along. Those people are usually the ones who cause the problems you are having at the regional. just my 2 cents

I understand being friends, and we have a similar issue on our team. What I meant to say was to have control over them, but still let them do the screaming and the shouting. Let them do that if they still do their work (correctly). My 8th grade english teacher told our class that we could talk amongst friends and listen to our iPods while working in class as long as our work got done. In the end, it all worked out fine, except for a few students who were disturbing the class.

I agree with this, but our team has an issue with this. You see, around 50% of our team is autistic, which for the most part is a very good thing, as they are bright and help a lot, but the problem is, with their autism comes some difficulties. One of them is that they don’t/can’t work on something very long or don’t ever show up to practice, and the second one is a few of them don’t like the idea of “Gracious Professionalism”, and try to drive the robot like a battle bot while being extremely rude to our alliance members and the judges. If we try to do this sort of thing to them, they can essentially sue us for discrimination, or worse, have the team broken up! :ahh:

I’ve been on a team where this happens, so I totally understand how frustrating this can be. Unfortunately, until your mentors realize this there’s not much you can do.

The best solution would be to bring on more technical mentors, make a strict policy regarding alumni working on the robot, and implementing a tiered structure to your team described below:

  1. Core - group of 10, leaders, 1+ yrs of team membership, build robot, at space every day
  2. Specialists - group of 15-20, newer members w/ lots of potential, have a skill but not master of it, work closely with Core, at space for majority of week
  3. Support - rest of the team, they do button making, painting, etc., also put on bumper making duty, team blogging, picture taking, “spirit” (ugh), stuff like that.

After each season, people should be evaluated and placed into the proper “supercell” where they can best grow/learn and contribute to the team.

As for what you can do in the meantime, find others on your team who are the movers of your team - those who get their hands dirty and produce something. Find them and talk with them, my guess is that they feel similar. With those people, talk to your mentors and just with 100% transparency tell them your concerns. If nothing happens because your mentors are satisfied with the status quo, then leave and form your own team. It’s well worth keeping your sanity.

I think I just put a target on my back…

As long as you discriminate based on performance and behavior, and not on their “disability” status, I don’t see a problem. Document and make public the requirements early on, regularly emphasize that those who do not meet the participation standards do not travel with the team, and stick to the policy regardless of any complaints when someone fails to make the cut. You might have a tough first year, but it will perhaps weed out those who aren’t serious about the goals of FRC, and it will definitely impress on everyone else the fact that actions have consequences.

Thanks Alan! I’ll talk to my lead mentor about this.

I’ve worked with children with autism before, and nearly all the parents would actually be disappointed in the team for letting their students get away with such poor behavior.

The parents on our team think otherwise.

I too have worked with kids with autism and similar disorders and I agree with Adam. It is sometimes insulting to let things slide and I definitely would disagree with a parent who thinks otherwise.

To be completely honest, I haven’t seen an issue with this for the team I used to be on. 309 did FTC (and this may vary because it’s FTC and not FRC) but we had about 20 people on the team. of those twenty, about 10 regularly attended meetings and those intent on staying put in the effort after school and the long night sessions we often did when last minute parts came in.

Several times, our team won the spirit award, especially the competetion where one of our cheerleaders found a sharpie and a stack of sticky notes in her purse. So saying you have to put in a lot of work to get the spirit award doesn’t seem like a logical excuse to me, you need to cut members.

Now I won’t lie, it was nice when those who didn’t touch the robot where around, just socializing. Sure it was distracting, but during the long nights when working on a rig went from a 1 to 6 hour job due to finding some new innovation, it was nice to take a break, and roll out with the team to the nearest dunkin’ donuts for coffee and a donut. Now, those who were interested in art made up our engineering log, and we had one kid who was good with CAD. Again, these didn’t compose more then 10% of our team.

We didn’t have to enforce an “hours to travel rule” but it was generally understood that if you didn’t pull your share of the work, you weren’t welcome to come. However that being said, we did make rare exceptions to those who had real life committments come up first (like my brother and his mandatory (aka show up or you don’t get credit) AP afterschool classes, who despite that would text me ideas based on feedback I gave him about 300 feet away in a classroom), and for those who came to the afterschool sessions but couldn’t stay late. they were welcome too. Again, it was also nice having extra people incase we had issues (a programmer lost his USB drive and had his car break down- thank god the other programmer was there with a copy of the program) and during the competetions, some people did double duty of pits/coding or PR/scout/ you get my drift.

But 50 people on a team for spirit? I like the idea of incorporating an application. Just watch that sometimes these people join up as a clique- you lose one or deny one, you lose 5-7 others- which according to you might not be so bad after all.

This is one of the most reasonable ones most of all. I wish our team had that tone, that building is the priority, but we don’t know how to set that tone. And when we try, it backfires on us socially

They can always sue you for anything; suing and winning is the tricky part. Besides, although it’s not quite clear-cut, the odds are very good you can’t personally be held liable, even if you did personally discriminate on the basis of a medical condition. Employment law doesn’t apply because you’re not an employer, you’re not an agent of the state so you have no constitutional duty not to discriminate, and you’re presumably a minor. (Your teachers and school administrators, on the other hand, have more limited protections—but I do know that in California, some state agents are shielded from personal liability in the course of their work.)

So I think a reasonable policy, equitably applied, would be at virtually no risk of exposing you to liability, even if it was necessary to treat the autistic students somewhat differently. (There might be grounds for striking it down, if it was official school policy.)

Unfortunately, whether the team breaks up or not is an administrative decision at some level. That’s certainly something to be concerned about, if you believe that those in positions of power would not side with you.

I’ve been thinking about this problem for a while. I have a couple of suggestions you might try. First set some ground rules but more importantly enforce those rules. Secondly comes from a judge at the last regional I went to. Find ways to communicate with them. It’s hard and takes a LOT of patience but once you figure out how; it will work wonders for you and your team. One thing that’s help me a lot has been complementing the people who are doing good work regardless of what that work. One student did an excellent job with painting the numbers on our bumpers, it wasn’t mission critical but by mentioning how good of a job he did, it got him more interested in the rest of the robot and overall he ended up making a make larger and better quality contribution to the team than he otherwise would have.
Another method is to intentionally split up the cliques that form. Ask a few students to come help you with something, like replace a wheel, and while your doing it start teaching them how to fix the chain, or properly space a wheel and whatever else you needed “help” with. Rotate who your asking and as you fix or make other parts you’ll come to know how to place the team members effectively so you get a great robot and a happy leadership, and well satisfied team as a whole.

Hope my $.02 helps


I’d give my left kidney for a 50-man team with that much enthusiasm and drive.

10 students for build? You could build a championship robot any day of the week with that.

You’re blessed. FIRST is not just about Robots, you have 2 Very Important People telling you that every year at Kickoff. Maybe you should listen.

Doing the right thing always comes with a consequence. You simply can’t expect to get something for nothing. Whenever faced with this type of dilemma, decide whether or not the goal is worth the consequence. I can’t really say if your social life is worth it. For me, it would have been. I often made unpopular calls when I was a student on the team. Honestly though, I never really had a social life to begin with.

I know what your trying to say, it just doesn’t seem to fit. Yes, there are other parts of a team then just the robot. There is funding, planning, scouting, off-season projects, spirit, award submissions, and many other things. That does not mean that there should be people on the team that just do any 1 of these things. Is it unreasonable to expect team members that are already in the stands to take scouting data? Not everyone on the team has to build the robot but they certainly should contribute more then a set of lungs in the stands. I definitely agree that 10 students is enough to build an amazing robot. Those same 10 students also managing to get funding for 50 students to go to a regional as well as all the planning involved is another matter.


It’s not me I’m worried about, I’m safe. It’s the team I’m worried for. Some of these people are nice, intelligent students, who benefit our team greatly. It’s just that there are a few that don’t do anything, and make us look like a bad team. Even worse, they invite their friends over, who don’t want to do robotics, and end up using our computers to play minecraft the whole day. This has meant a major loss of productivity over this past year, and it made our already small building room seem more crowded.

About that? I agree its good to have a team with a lot of people and with drive, but when their drive is on one particular aspect and they ignore ALL the rest and don’t even want to try to give it a chance, it’s a problem.

I like doing the work myself, and I’m not worried about next year when I’m a senior, I’m worried about all of the rest when they’re will be no builders left. I just wish you read my post clearly before you came off with a snoody comment

p.s- When I see my scouting sheets wrong, blank, full of incoherent words, or swamped with zeros, ill be thinking of you and say “At least they have the drive to hold up pretty pictures and dance around in costumes”