Decisions: A rant

Well folks, it’s that time of year again. That’s right, the time when all the seniors get all giddy from graduation, when tears and hugs are shared between robotics team members who are moving on. It’s also the time of the year when I put up some inane thread where I rant about my observations over the past season. I actually believe this year will be one of the shorter, but more concise rants.

First off: Designing decisions. The team that I was on this year decided to do something different with our drive design: not use every single machining ability and material choice we had access to. That’s right, we chose to intentionally NOT use many services. Rather than design and build the fastest, shiniest machine with three speeds, totally modular drive modules, and all aluminum construction, we chose to stick with the basics. **Just because your team has access to a CNC does not mean you have to CNC the most complex piece possible! ** Just because you found someone who can supply you titanium gears does not mean you need to shell out that thousand dollars to save three pounds! Rather than go for all the bells and whistles, design for two things: Speed and Durability. It should be strong, and it should be fast. If you focus on those two, and work to remove everything not needed for those two goals, you will usually end up with a design that is tough, easy to work on, reliable, and efficient.

Second: High school students are, well, high school students. They’re human. We all are. We all make mistakes, some big, some small. Really, we’re all just as lost as everyone else, trying to bumble our way through life while appearing to have some idea of what’s going on. When you have a group of teens in a room with powertools, you end up with some interesting results. Hormonal imbalance mixed with authority, inexperience, and industrial grade machinery can end in very perplexing ways. My point here is this: You may think your team has done something terrible, or has made some dumb decisions. You might think your mentors are unfair, or your team is underfunded, understaffed, and underprivileged. But in reality, we’re just a bunch of humans trying to figure it all out. So when your team captain decides something rash out of inexperience, don’t go nuts. Don’t yell, or shout, or get angry. Simply ask for clarification, and most of the problems will work themselves out.

Third and final: Thank you all so much. It’s been a hell of a ride these four years. I’ve gone from a student who had no idea which side of a hammer was meant for the nails, to someone who can design, CAD, and machine up there with some (near) professionals. Thanks to all the mentors who put up with my incessant questions and odd ideas. Thanks to the parents who drove me to robotics until I could drive myself. Thanks to the machinists who lost money spending time teaching me to work a mill. Thanks to the professionals who took time out of their day to help me out on designs and mechanical principles. Thanks, FIRST.

This is an excellent post about what you think and thanking people who have helped you. I appriciate the frankness and honesty of it something we need more of. You are one of those people that truly gets it as far as FIRST goes. Good luck with life after highschool.

-Drew

Ditto.

Great job, Craig!

Congrats on graduation. All the best in the future. I’m sure you will spreading the FIRST message wherever you go.

Normally I dont post in these type of threads…

But I fully agree with what you mentioned above. The part thats hits closest to home is the fact that a lot of times mentors, including myself, get so lost in the game and design aspects that we forget the true reason we are there and that is to teach the students and sometimes even other adults about engineering and increasing their knowledge. I think we dont let them make the mistakes which are needed for them to learn from and understand why things are done the way they are.

Great post again.