College Teams--What's the Coolest Part?

Alrighty, so once again I’m browsing through old threads instead of studying for my exams (it’s a lot more fun) and I’ve been reading all about people who have or have wanted to organize college teams. Now I know there’s a few others out there, and for those who have been either students or mentors on a college team, I’d like to know what you think is the coolest part. Did you get to experience anything that you wouldn’t have if you had been on a team not sponsored by a college?

I’ve seen both sides of the fence being on HOT and Spartan Robotics, and I would have to say that my favorite part of being on 1504 has been that it’s a lot less formal. The students and mentors really both seem to be able to learn from each other, and even form some pretty tight friendships. One of the mentors on my team was invited by our students to go and play paintball with them one Saturday (btw the kids kicked his butt) for instance.

I definitely agree. I am currently a college mentor for Team 97, which is entirely run by college students. I think the high school kids can relate to us more since we are closer to their age and so meetings are a lot less formal and more fun. The facilities at colleges are a great resource. (We have access to a waterjet, which we unfortunately did not get to use this year but have plans for in the future.) I also think the experience of running a college team is a great one for college students. I am learning a lot about team organization and management (stuff I didn’t see as a high school FIRSTer) that I think will supplement my technical education greatly.

I think that the greatest thing that has come out of 461 being a college team is what we dubbed ‘continueing the cycle’. The idea being that students stay involved their whole life and continue to help enrich others lives by getting others involved. FLL Kids becoming FRC high school kids who then become college mentors, who then go onto becoming engineers and helping out 461 and other teams all over. All along the way feeding back into the levels below them, and maybe someday spawning little FLL kids that start the whole cycle over again. That to me has been amazing to watch.

I also feel that its great being able to relate so closely with the high school students, i can be their friend, but i can also be someone they can look up to, its a wonderful feeling.

Seconding what Josh said, but from a student point of view, it’s definitly a different resource base. It is really good preparation for working with peers in the future. There’s so much information out there, my advisor Leanne, a 68 alumni, gives me info on college stuff such as classes and whatnot. The relationships we develop are so strong that they really do last. Also, mentorship in college is something tangible.

As a junior this year and almost a senior, I see it as a goal for my freshman year of college to maintain my participation in FIRST either as a mentor or as an event assisstant of some sort, becuase I see other people only 2 or 3 or 4 years older than myself doing it. College is a lot less far off than it seems, and FIRST mentorship can really make it happen for highschool students seeking to continue their phenomenal experiences.

As CrazyCarl461 said at the banquet on Sunday, “I’m here because I had amazing mentors, and now I want to give back.” Well, it’s paraphrased, but that was the most incredibly inspirational thing I ever heard.

I don’t really have ANY experience with what being on a college team is like, so I can’t offer that. But I can give you an unusual comparison because, frankly, I think my team is an unusual circumstance. We are definitely an adult run team, with our fair share of adult mentors (including Wayne C. from Team 25). However, team 1089 also has two hard-working college mentors, Erik Cokeley (E-Rock) and myself.

Having an adult advisor is beneficial because the students on the team tend to have more respect for an authority like their teacher. Why? Because teachers have more sway on kids day-to-day lives than your average college student. Teachers are also used to having kids that are unruly, distracted, or just having a hard time in class. It makes them great public speakers and makes holding meetings about 10,000 times easier.

Sure, being a college mentor is great, and I definitely try to teach kids from my own experiences. Talking about college things where they apply. Yeah, college kids learn a lot about responsibility, management and heirarchy running their own team, but they’re just that…kids (myself included). It’s really tough to have control of a room of kids when you’re a kid yourself. It’s even harder to know what to do in tough situations because you’re “a legal adult” but don’t have enough knowledge to solve tough problems. Sure, you can be their friend, but can you help them as much as any other adult?

The thing is, even just being a MENTOR allows you to have friendships with the kids. Yeah, I’m respected and looked up to, but they also know that I like to have fun. Actually, I joke that one of my team members (Carli Roberts -CRoberts1089) spends more time in my car than I do. Our team goes out to eat with each other, we spend countless hours invading each others’ houses, and most of us get along. So yes, I can see that being a major plus to having a college student-run team, but why can’t regular teams do that?

My advisor goes out to eat with us a lot. In fact, he cracks more jokes in our meetings than the kids do. He’ll be the first one to scream out “pants!” in the middle of a serious topic or make some goofy gesture. We have a lot of fun, but we also recognize that he IS an adult.

Having an adult is always a good resource, but having a college student makes things a lot more relaxed. I don’t think you necessarily need to have a college team, but you need to have a mixture of both.

After now being a mentor for a year, and looking forward to several more, the coolest part is seeing the same look in the high schoolers eyes that I had in high school. That new and innocent interest in these machines, what they do, how they work, the “wow that is so cool, we actually did this?” That is the best part I would have to say, by far the coolest part. Seeing the look once they get what it is all about, the tears, and the emotion. And then once you arrive at that last comp, or dinner, seeing the emotion in their eyes, both of joy and of sadness, knowing that you were able to touch someones life in so many ways, and then seeing them move on to touch more lives, that is awesome. Also as it was said, the relationships that you can form, being so close in age. You can relate college to the real world, and really push home the advantages of school. Gosh all this thinking has gotten me all worked up for next season now!

The best part for me was when one of my seniors got a FIRST scholarship for $20,000.00.

Apart from that highlight, at our end-of-year banquet, every single student wanted to return for the next year, and are making plans to recruit more students. When you see the kids motivated to grow and learn, and becoming mature enough to do it on their own, it really makes it all worth it.