DRIVER SELECTION....

Posted by Anton Abaya at 2/2/2001 1:04 AM EST

Coach on team #419, Rambots, from UMass Boston / BC High and NONE AT THE MOMENT! :(.

Ahh, here we go again.

Can you guys give me a round of suggestions/methods/techniques for selecting ur drivers?

what qualities are impt? what qualities of skill? what qualities of attitude? what qualities of listening to the coaches rather than making their own decisions?

And what about former drivers? should they be the drivers again? or if someone beats them in time should their experience be any higher than the one who was better than them?

oh, also… if i have 20 kids who wanna try out for driving, how in the world do i get them all to drive without overheating the motors or eating up 5 batteries? is there a way to filter out at least 15?

anton@driversEd.com

Posted by colleen - T190 at 2/2/2001 1:20 AM EST

Engineer on team #190, Gompei, from Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science and WPI.

In Reply to: DRIVER SELECTION…
Posted by Anton Abaya on 2/2/2001 1:04 AM EST:

Ahh… the question every CrewChief loves to answer!! :stuck_out_tongue:

well… since this is my job this year for 190… here’s what i’m having the crazy kids do…

First… most important… they HAVE to know the rules… (how game is scored, time multipliers, etc.)… so every kid… before they can even THINK about practicing or getting training… has to pass a written test on the rules… (email me colleen@wpi.edu for the link to it…)… if they don’t get 'em all right… they have to re-read the rules and take it again…

Second most important thing-- your drivers (and coaches) really have to understand the strengths and weakness of your own robot… the WORST thing is when you’re on the field and another team says “yeah yeah yeah… we can do that and we can do it in 48seconds!” and they can’t even do it if you gave 'em 10minutes… for that reason, all ours kids will also have to pass a “technical” test… about what the robot does… what the various sensors feedback to do… what’s strong… what’s sensitive… all that jazz…

Not only does it keep us from getting unnecessary damage from improper use… but it speeds up the strategy process if we say “no, we’re not good at that… why don’t we do this…”

Then… you obviously have to do a “general skills” test… testing their ability to manuever and control the robot… best recommendation… give them a specific set of tasks to complete… in 2mins or they finish (which ever comes first)… they get checked for completing everything and their time is recorded…

The last part gives you straight numbers… if you have 20 try out… it will probably weed out half the crowd… but it still leaves you with decisions to be made… is the person who did it the fastest necessarily the best??

That’s when you really have to look at it holistically… how did they do in practice?? how dedicated were they to the team?? can they think for themselves but accept the criticisms and ideas of others?

you really need someone who has the confidence and intelligence to make on-the-fly decisions but also isn’t stubborn and cocky and unwilling to listen to coaches… not only is it bad for your own team… but it does not make you a pretty partner (trust me… 4 years driving and last year coaching… just upon shaking hands and speaking to drivers you get a “feel” for them… and you kinda start to dislike the ones that give off that impression… at least that’s me)…

you really just want personable, intelligent kids that have worked on the robot (they’ll know it’s strengths and weakness the best) and who did well in tryouts and practice…

In high school, we never did the written part… but the contributions and knowledge of people was always strongly considered and not just straight skill and task completion time…

hope it helps :slight_smile:

Posted by Joe Ross at 2/2/2001 2:14 AM EST

Engineer on team #330, Beach Bot, from Hope Chapel Academy and NASA/JPL , J&F Machine, and Raytheon.

In Reply to: The (new) WPI way…
Posted by colleen - T190 on 2/2/2001 1:20 AM EST:

Colleen has some very good ideas. I can only think of one more thing to add. It is imperative that your drivers don’t get distracted easily and take pressure well.

On the field (for those who haven’t experienced it) it is very noisy and there are many things going on. Your drivers must be able to focus on the task at hand and not get easily distracted. On the other hand, he/she can’t totally block everything out. they must be able to listen to the coach at the same time.

They must also respond well to pressure. I’m sure you have all seen people who fold when under pressure. On the field there is a tremendous amount of pressure. They must be able to work around adversity also. For example, if a ball is stuck under the bridge, do they stop and wait for another team to take care of it, or wait for instructions from the coach? They should take an active role, either by moving to remove the ball or informing the coach so that he can communicate to the other teams that there is a ball to be removed.

Two more things that we have found to be beneficial. The drivers and coach(es) should know each other very well, and have practiced together a lot. For the past three years, our driving team has been two brothers and their father as a coach. I could have easily counted the number of words they spoke on my fingers. It wasn’t necessary. They were able to anticipate each other’s actions and as a result we have had many compliments about how good our drivers are. It isn’t very likely that you will find yourself in that type of situation, but it is something to keep in mind. The more that drivers drive together (or even play video games together) the better they will be at working together.

Lastly, like colleen said, your drivers should be very knowledgable about not only what the robot does, but how it feels when it does certain things. In “double trouble” we lost a match because the driver didn’t tell us that the robot was handling quite right. Thursday night we had our first qualifying match and our job was to grab a few floppys, push the puck to the other side and get on the puck. We used four motors to drive four wheels that year and during that match one of the motors started to drag. It wasn’t obvious to anyone but the driver. But, he didn’t tell anyone that it was acting a little strange. In our next match, the motor was completely dead, and although we could still drive, it was hard to do much. If we had known about the problem earlier, then we would have been able to fix the problem (a bad tekin speed controller) and probably would have won that next match. If your driver’s don’t know what the robot feels like, then they won’t have any way of telling you if the robot is acting OK.

I hope I haven’t bored you to pieces :slight_smile:

Posted by Chris Orimoto at 2/2/2001 2:40 AM EST

Student on team #368, Kika Mana, from McKinley High School and Nasa Ames/Hawaiian Electric/Weinberg Foundation.

In Reply to: one more thing to look for
Posted by Joe Ross on 2/2/2001 2:14 AM EST:

Well, I think that the previous posts have answered the original question quite thoroughly, but I do have one tiny thing to say. Although it does not seem as important as other qualities, experience does play a factor in determining how one reacts to pressure and adversity.

Being the driver from last year, I can say that it is not an easy task, despite any propaganda about it. I quickly found that I had to be able to strategize just as well as my coaches in order to be successful. Maybe it’s just the egocentric student’s point of view, but I think that a driver SHOULD, in fact, be able to make his/her own decisions on the field and not RELY on the coaches for everything. By proposing a lack of “reliance” does not mean a complete discernment of open-mindedness. The driver should be able to constructively take criticism.

As far as personal qualities are concerned, I believe that the driver should be intelligent and able to handle pressure (as previously stated by others). I think that the driver should also be enthusiastic to a certain degree, so that he/she is able to “boost” the team’s morale as a potential leader. An experienced driver would have assumably developed these qualities previously, but then again, you don’t want someone who lets the glory get to his/her head.

I’m not sure if I shall drive again this year (a little reinforcer saying that experience isn’t EVERYTHING). Cracking under pressure was my main fault, and that was a huge reason why we lost the final in the regionals last year (well, that and the fact that we were up against a Kingman #60/Broadway #254 alliance).

Well, I hope I haven’t murdered anyone with my “robotic” life story here. Just my personal thoughts…

Chris, #368
PS…Thanks again to #330 BeachBot, you guys were the best!

Posted by colleen - T190 at 2/2/2001 3:18 AM EST

Engineer on team #190, Gompei, from Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science and WPI.

In Reply to: one more thing to look for
Posted by Joe Ross on 2/2/2001 2:14 AM EST:

Joe’s right–

ability to handle pressure is key. It’s nearly impossible to simulate the experience you have on stage… because at that point… it’s pressure and an adrenaline rush… lights on stage… pushing to start… woodie introducing you…fans screaming, etc, etc…

You can only hope that your driver’s are prepared enough that that is the ONLY thing they are adjusting to (aka they are not trying to learn how to drive AND acclimate themselves to the field scenerio at the same time)

I’ve found timed skills test give a good scenerio of the pressures of driving… the entire team is there… watching… you’re being timed… you’ve got ONE shot to do your best… it’s a good test

But an even better test is watching how they react to adversity… persay… when they are in the shop and they screw up on a piece… do they panic… freak out… try to throw it away and start from stratch so no one knows?? or do they say “hey guys… i think i got this wrong” and admit to their problem and try to find a solution… see if it’s salvagable… and if not, take the time to make a new piece right?..

And if they are in the skills test… if they are completing their scenerio and they miss a step or a ball or something… do they panic and become jerky and nervous… or do they simply move and finish that later before their 2mins is up?

You don’t need someone who completes the tasks perfectly… but who can react to the given situation whether it runs smoothly or not…

Basically… for the most part… you will you the person when you see them… you see how they react with others… their dedication… their abilities… and you’ll know… and they’ll prove themselves…

Easy-going but dedicated and trustworthy… intelligent in terms of common sense… has confidence, but can listen well too…

Posted by Anton Abaya at 2/2/2001 3:36 AM EST

Coach on team #419, Rambots, from UMass Boston / BC High and NONE AT THE MOMENT! :(.

In Reply to: Re: one more thing to look for
Posted by colleen - T190 on 2/2/2001 3:18 AM EST:

yah…as much as i’d like to give them (former drivers) the role, i need to be fair and just with everyone.

a clean slate as colleen had put it. if the former drivers are as good as they were, then they should make it to the top easy. but if it got to their heads…then sorry guys, but new blood has to come in.

“i have a say in things because i was a driver…”

a comment i heard… rather interesting and amusing considering it’s so negative to my standards of choice.

i sorta need to draw the line between friendship and being their team leader…yes, it’s harsh.

-anton-
“Josh is cool. Where are the pistons???”

Posted by Joe Ross at 2/2/2001 4:08 AM EST

Engineer on team #330, Beach Bot, from Hope Chapel Academy and NASA/JPL , J&F Machine, and Raytheon.

In Reply to: being “friends” with the drivers…
Posted by Anton Abaya on 2/2/2001 3:36 AM EST:

If your drivers really were good, then they should be able to come out on top. BUT, if it is close (and your drivers did well lasy year) then they should probably continue being the drivers. It is very hard to top a year’s experience driving (except with more years experience :wink: ).

:“i have a say in things because i was a driver…”

while the attitude behind this comment conveys that the driver has an attitude, you should definetly listen to your drivers. They are the only ones who know how the robot is acting. The engineers and everyone else only know how the robot is supposed to act.

There is give-and-take both ways, but the experience that drivers bring should never be discounted.

PS. don’t you people on the east coast get any sleep? :wink: or is college a coast-to-coast phenomenon :stuck_out_tongue:

Posted by Anton Abaya at 2/3/2001 12:31 AM EST

Coach on team #419, Rambots, from UMass Boston / BC High and NONE AT THE MOMENT! :(.

In Reply to: experience should be the tie-breaker
Posted by Joe Ross on 2/2/2001 4:08 AM EST:

: If your drivers really were good, then they should be able to come out on top. BUT, if it is close (and your drivers did well lasy year) then they should probably continue being the drivers. It is very hard to top a year’s experience driving (except with more years experience :wink: ).

: :“i have a say in things because i was a driver…”

: while the attitude behind this comment conveys that the driver has an attitude, you should definetly listen to your drivers. They are the only ones who know how the robot is acting. The engineers and everyone else only know how the robot is supposed to act.

: There is give-and-take both ways, but the experience that drivers bring should never be discounted.

: PS. don’t you people on the east coast get any sleep? :wink: or is college a coast-to-coast phenomenon :stuck_out_tongue:

then again, mountain dew will keep a horse awake for days on end…

-anton

Posted by Deej at 2/2/2001 1:28 PM EST

Engineer on team #190, Gompeii, from Mass Academy and WPI.

In Reply to: DRIVER SELECTION…
Posted by Anton Abaya on 2/2/2001 1:04 AM EST:

After reading through the posts, I’ve decided to put in my piece as well. I was driver for 4 years as quite a few of you seem to be here, and I know how I approached the game. Coming from a smaller team (team 42 PARTS), we never really had that many engineers to make building the bot that easy, and we went to competitions knowing that something could go wrong someplace. As for driving tests, we had people try out, but in the end it usually came down to skills and experience. My senior year (99) it came down to myself and one other driver. We hit the practice rounds in Hartford, and I did my round very well, and just near the end of the other drivers round he got a little shaky. It was the experience in the end that picked the driver. Driving with experience is a huge asset. Experience gives the driver the ability to think a few steps ahead of what exactly is happening. When things went wrong with our bot, I never stopped or hesitated as to what i should do next. I essentially scrapped together what I thought was the best strategy and kept chugging (and winning). While coaches are the main strategists, the drivers make the final call, cause they have the sticks in their hand. Colleen pointed out our Driver Selection test so far, and we believe it is a great system, but never rule out experience in the end. It is the one true determining factor.

Posted by Janna at 2/2/2001 9:45 PM EST

Student on team #349, The RoBahamas, from International Academy and Ford Motor Company and Robert Bosch GmbH.

In Reply to: DRIVER SELECTION…
Posted by Anton Abaya on 2/2/2001 1:04 AM EST:

Wow, I’m kind of surprised by reading all these posts…our team’s method is completely different. :slight_smile: We just started doing things this way this year (in previous years the coach chose), but it’s worked out really nicely so far.

At one of our weekly team meetings, all of us just take out a piece of paper and write down five names of field team members. The people who get the most votes are the field team. The coach and the engineers do not vote. Then, those five decide among themselves who is driving, who is coaching, and who is being the human player. This way, it is totally and completely a democratic team decision, and everyone’s most satisfied this way. We don’t do tryouts, but if we’ve had a base and people have been practicing with it, it helps when the five field team members are choosing among themselves.

At first, it may seem like this isn’t a very reliable way to pick a field team. But actually, it works out really well. And maybe it’s because our team is so close, but everyone wants what is best for the team. So they vote for the best choices, even though they may not necessarily be friends with them. Same goes for the way the 5 choose among themselves. It’s all about what’s best for the team.

Again, this may just have to do with our team’s mentality and it may not work for every team. But when it does, I think you’ll end up with a really good field team. :slight_smile:

Posted by Mike Soukup at 2/4/2001 2:06 AM EST

Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling and Motorola.

In Reply to: DRIVER SELECTION…
Posted by Anton Abaya on 2/2/2001 1:04 AM EST:

I think attitude was briefly mentioned by a previous poster, but I’d like to expand on it. Remember that the driver is one of the most visible members of the team (much like the lead singer of a band). Everyone does a lot of work both on the robot and on strategy, but the driver is the one out in front of everyone representing the team. It’s important that he or she be humble and not cocky. I wouldn’t want a driver who is a sore loser or an ungrateful winner. Basically, the driver should be a gracious professional. The attitude of a driver could be the difference between getting picked as an alliance partner and being passed over.

Mike

Posted by Jessica Boucher at 2/4/2001 9:21 AM EST

Student on team #237, Sie-H2O-Bots, from Watertown High School and Eastern Awning Systems & The Siemon Company.

In Reply to: One more criteria - attitude
Posted by Mike Soukup on 2/4/2001 2:06 AM EST:

I agree with that, and just to add a little bit to what you said; another reason to have a driver with the right attitude…

…you never know when the camera is on you.

We have this one shot of our driver right before the match…we were already introduced, and the match was about to start, but the cameraman had this insane idea to show footage of the driver right before the match, thinking the driver would look concentrated or something.

He didnt. Our driver was showing the cameraman his shirt…and then you hear in the background “1…2…3…go!” and see the rest of our drive crew trying to get his attention by pointing to the OI.

Best part about that, though, is that he reacted right away and drove wonderfully.

-Jessica B, #237