Elite (invite only) FIRST teams

Hey folks:

So I’m going to be moving on to college next year (don’t know exactly where yet, we shall see), and I’m looking to bring FIRST with me. One of my major choices does not have a team nearbye, and I think it would be fun to start one. However, my idea for the team is a little bit different than most. I have a feeling I’m going to catch a good bit of flack for this idea, but I’d like to get a sounding of it.

The team that I may found would most likely require an application or interview process in order to join. The team would be a very fast moving, highly competitive environment, meant to simulate a real world business as closely as possible. In order to have a robot design approved, a member must “sell” it to the Board (which would be senior students and mentors). This would (hopefully?) make the team a VERY competitive team, that could be relied upon to bring a fearsome robot to each competition.

That idea being said, I was hoping to gather a bit of information on teams that may already have some sort of similar system in place. My main focus is currently on requiring an application/interview or not, and so it would help a ton if people knew of any teams that have this going already.

Are there any invite only, or application required teams out there?
If so, why do they only allow successful applicants on the team, and how does it help them?
Do they have a better chance in competition?
About how many members are part of these teams?

I know that we pretty much take who ever walks in the door and stays with us while being productive. It usually works out.

I am also curious about this kind of set up and I know I’ve heard of many teams having a selection process. Let me look around here…

Our team has an application per say… but it’s more like something that weeds out the students who don’t even take the time to fill out a couple papers. Two teacher reccomendations are required but it’s not like it’s hard to get those. Our design process however is much more open. Only problem I can see with this is the quiet people who have good ideas, they might be a little too frightened to speak up in front of a board. This is my third year on the team and new members continue to shock me with good ideas.

And while we’re on this subject of leaving for college and not knowing what to do with countless hours of time in Jan. and Feb., are there any teams in the Ann Arbor, MI area that could use a college student mentor?

840 technically does have an application, and it is a couple pages, but we always like to joke around that the only real criteria for being a member is attendance, and really the main purpose of the application is to determine whether you already are too busy to commit enough time to robotics. So I don’t think we follow your criteria…

P.S.: I would have given you flack for this idea, but I understand this wasn’t the purpose of this topic.

In my opinion, FIRST was started to get people interested in science and technology. Making them apply to get on the team seems to counteract that idea. But, that aside, 190 runs pretty much that exact game plan (minus applications). We have several designs thought up by respective sub-groups, and then the whole team whittles it down to one (changing the favored idea to incorporate other ideas as well).

My old FRC team had an application and interview process for all new members. Those interested would submit an application with at least one teacher reference and skillset. A resume was highly recommended. I didn’t like this system much because it added qualified people who just went to robotics to put it on their college application. However, I can’t really think of a much better system.

In terms of the design process, it was basically whoever had an idea come up in front of the team and present their design. This worked well to some degree.

We have an application system based on the college Common App. The students have to fill out a few short answers and then a longer essay about themselves. Programmers and PR must also full out supplements dealing with each department.

The thought process behind the application is that if you aren’t dedicated enough to fill out the paperwork, you won’t show up during build season.

well i agree with above, as a one-man team i know that next year i need all the help i can get, even just for the competition

i think an application is kind of pointless because if they’re interested in robotics they’re generally gonna be a little above average intelligence :rolleyes: :smiley:

i think one of the main points is attendace, St. Martins team last year had a really bad attendance record with the newbies so it was tricky during critical build time

Just from experience, I’d say you should focus on your own school work first. Starting a first team takes a lot of time and effort, and while it’s a noble effort, your main goal should be to get through college.

100% agree with this. I’m a first year in University right now and the work load is incredible. If you’re not ready, the exams can sneak up on you, and with exams worth 50%+ of your marks, thats a big deal.

Now back to studying for midterm :stuck_out_tongue:

I realize this fully. I’m currently enrolled in a high school alternative program that involves taking classes at the local college, so the college load is nothing new. The only real difference will be where I live, which should give me more free time, and more ability to help a team out.

I second that.

Craig, if there isn’t a team near you, don’t start one. Or, if you must start one, get several helpers. There isn’t enough time to do FIRST if you are involved on campus at all. (Other than checking CD:D… or helping teams during breaks.) Instead, find a college competition team. That’ll take up enough of your time (I’ve a meeting for one in about 1/2 an hour…). If schoolwork doesn’t take over your life, that is.

I’m not even trying to start a team here in Rapid City. I don’t know where to start, the last team(s) in the area folded when NASA grants in the area dried up, and I got enough to do building airplanes. If there was a team within range, I’d be mentoring them if possible. There isn’t.

… make the team a VERY competitive team, that could be relied upon to bring a fearsome robot to each competition.

OK, so here’s my “flack”.

If you are looking to start a selective FIRST team for the sole purpose of creating a very competitive team, then sorry, you’ve missed the point of FIRST.

It ain’t about the robots.

Wouldn’t it be a better use of your VERY LIMITED TIME as a freshman, to get more students interested in STEM areas instead of limiting your team to only a chosen few?


One thing to keep in mind is that when dealing with high school students what you see in a person at the beginning of the year changes significantly by build season. As Scott said above team 1155 has an application process aimed at filtering out those who will not be dedicated or are likely to goof off ( I can give anyone interested more details on our methods and the results we see) but we are often times wrong. High Schoolers are strange and sneaky beings and are not only willing to lie to get onto a team they think will look good an an application but are also capable of changing their minds as time goes on. We have on multiple occasions had students who demonstrated a deep interest at events before they even entered our school and appeared to be very promising in the first few months but later on for one reason or another stopped showing up by the middle of december.

Got to agree with the others… put FIRST on a back burner…its okay they’ll understand. Deal with your school work. You can still be a help answering post on CD or doing some long distance mentoring via email or phone calls.
Your school work should come first… we’ will all still be here when you graduate with your degree and you’ll be welcomed back with open arms…

Good luck on you future endeavors. :cool:

Regarding the purpose of the thread and the application/interview process.

There are teams that do this.
There are teams that are open door, everyone is welcome.

Both types of teams have the same goals/mission and that is a successful FIRST team. Hopefully, everyone enjoys the experience.

There is a lot of work involved starting a FIRST team in a new area, as I’m sure you know, Craig. It has been done. Hopefully some of the founders of teams that were started in college will see your thread and add their wisdom gained from their experiences.

It’s interesting. I’m not sure I like ‘elite’ though. When I think of ‘elite’ teams in FIRST, I think of teams who have worked hard to put it all together into a successful package of achievement gained through the years of trial, error, battle scars, and callouses. To start an ‘elite’ team would mean a whole 'nother thing.

In my own opinion, the idea is awesome.

His point of an application/selection is not meant to rule out the spirit of involvement that is FIRST. I think its a a great idea for people who have moved on from the high school level and want to enter a level that simulates more of a corporate or business type of engineering experience because this will help lead those students into the life of the work force. Sure, high school teams do this as well, but I think the level of engagement Craig is talking about is to focus on a more advanced feel for the engineering and design aspect of the robot.
Other than being more competitive and a little more exclusive, I don’t see how its that far from the inclusive mindset of FIRST.

“The team would be a very fast moving, highly competitive environment, meant to simulate a real world business as closely as possible. In order to have a robot design approved, a member must “sell” it to the Board (which would be senior students and mentors).”

(emphasis mine)

Good luck with it Craig:)

I see that I came across as wanting this for the sole purpose of being competitive, and so I need to jump on it quickly and apologize for coming across that way. The main point would be to weed out serious students, and to simulate a business environment as much as possible, from the way hiring works, all the way to product (in this case the robot) development and selection.

Sorry for coming across the other way, I slammed out the thread in a relatively short amount of time.

Elite wasn’t really meant to be a snobby type term, but more of show where I’ve found ideas for the team. Elite means I’ve gone through hell on a team, and watched others get torn apart by issues that could be solved by something as simple as a more corporate environment. Elite means taking most of the dead weight out of a team, in order to focus the learning as much as possible. Elite was more of my way of saying a selected, focused force, rather than a scattered group of students and mentors working feverishly to complete a task.

Exactly. :slight_smile:

The goal here would be to have the team operate as a business would. In order to join a company, you need to apply. If the position you’re applying is already full, you can either get denied or apply for a different position (obviously we’d have to set a certain number of posts per job). Once you’re on the company, you’re going to have shop hours. You’re going to have to make design changes rapidly, and then “sell” your idea to the Board in order to get funding and the ability to move forward.

I think a team like this could do a world of good, if properly managed. It would teach students huge responsibility, and immerse them into the business model much earlier than a normal team. There are a ton of students that wouldn’t work well on a team this structured, and that’s fine. Many students haven’t developed to that level yet. However, I believe it would be immeasurably beneficial for the ones that ARE ready for it.

EDIT: I forgot to make this clear! This team wouldn’t be based at a normal public high school. Instead, it would be based at a Middle College program, which is only populated by students who are either not very involved in the public school system, or who are far in advance of the normal schooling level. That locale would ensure a fairly professional applicant field.

To go along with what Jane mentioned, I think it would be a challenge to start a team off with just lofty expectations and standards. I think creating such team take a few seasons as the team learns about FIRST. I know that my first year, I didn’t really understand what FIRST was all about or how cool it was, so I probably wouldn’t be willing to put all the time and effort into being part of an ‘elite’ team. If anything, I probably would be a little scared away by how offical and business-like it would seem. Now, however, I would love to be on a team like that, but that I after I learned how amazing FIRST is. I think the first year or two will be very challenging as you instal some of the ideals. I am very interested to see how that would go though.

To go along with some others concerns, I would wait atleast one year in college before deciding if starting a team is something that you can (or want) to do.

While you mention you are in an alternative high school program where you are taking college classes, once you are away from home & at college full-time, things will change. It won’t be as easy as you expect it to be. That free time you think you will have isn’t always there and it doesn’t always happen once you get out in the ‘real’ world either.

Personally, I feel if you are looking to make an ‘elite’ team through an interview process you are missing the point of FIRST. FIRST is more than just a competition.