FIRST Mentor Conference - Registration Open!

We are excited to be hosting the FIRST Mentor Conference at Google’s HQ in Mountain View California on August 26-27. We have a great lineup of invited speakers including including Andy Baker (AndyMark), Austin Schuh (971), Jared Russell (254), Michael Corsetto (1678), Norman Morgan (2468), Marshall Massengill (900), and more!

Registration is now open, go to firstmentorconference.com/register to register today. If you need financial assistance to attend, please go to firstmentorconference.com/scholarships to apply for a scholarship.

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From the FAQ page:

Will the event be livestreamed or recorded?
A major goal of the FIRST Mentor Conference is for mentors, old and new, to share their experiences, best practices, and further build community. As such, this event will be in-person only with no livestreaming.

I don’t know if I’m missing something, but how does gating access to the information and experience shared at the event achieve the “major goal of the FIRST Mentor Conference is for mentors, old and new, to share their experiences, best practices, and further build community.”? Are only mentors who live in the Bay Area or can afford to travel in supposed to be able to access this knowledge?

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Agreed. Major L to the people who can’t afford to fly out there like myself.

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Interestingly the registration is also non-free. Huh. I get the need to cover facility and possibly travel costs for speakers, but that seems like a more direct reason for not live-streaming.

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I can’t comment for the organizers but I do feel like, as someone who had a past life helping run both hacker conferences and other events… this stuff is hard to organize. Live streaming and trying to facilitate QAs and other things is not easy.

Maybe the outcry here will help with motivating some to step up and help with that and get things rolling.

In the meantime, I’m hoping they are recording the talks and I’ll make a promise to all that I’ll ensure my own talk is recorded and shared.

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Thank you for the response. I was mainly responding due to the implication of that FAQ answer and the responses of event organizers on other platforms, where they stated that there would be no filming, whether live or recorded, in order to emphasize the in-person aspect, and to not “create a disincentive to attend”.
I look forward to viewing your talk.

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Personal $0.02:

$100 is dirt cheap for 8 meals in the bay area.

Not to mention the venue and other benefits.

Yes, the travel is pricey, but we all have to reckon with that in one way or another for Houston. This isn’t fundamentally different IMO.

But yea. If technology, time, and expertise allows, I’d be all for at least “record and release” all conference talks. If not this year, then a future year.

Bias - I’m also helping prepare (though, not going to be physically present for) one of the talks. Implicitly, I thought this thing was a good enough idea to volunteer for it.

Further, unsolicited personal opinion: I really like the idea of more in-person mentor get-togethers. I personally learned a ton at the Rugged Robotics meetup at champs, and made many new friends. I’m all for more of these events, if nothing more than for the social aspect of getting like-minded persons to meet face-to-face, share some stories, and build connections that will help build the future of the program.

IMO, question shouldn’t be “How can this particular event be more open?” - that should eventually be a question, but not the first year. The question should be, “How can we replicate this success locally?”.

Again, further personal bias to admit: I’m privileged to have sufficient income and airline miles that, while this won’t be an every-year thing for me, traveling to a FIRST conference every few years is viable. YMMV.

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Yeah, I have no gripes with anything other than the “not recording the talks, in order to incentivise people to come in person” thing. That just really rubbed me the wrong way, and I hope something positive can come out of this thread.

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The difference I see here is if your team qualifies for Worlds, that’s a team expense, covered however your team handles it. I would consider this a personal expense for most mentors.

Hopefully, the scholarship program can be expanded to include travel in the future, or similar conferences can happen in more locations.

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The way i deal with HOU is not going. Same thing i have to do here.

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And, IMO, that’s perfectly legit. Up till this year, that’s the same decision my wife and I (both mentors) made. This year was an exception. Likely, next year will be back to “we can’t make it”.

Key differentiation: “Legit” doesn’t equal “ideal” - I’d rather see it such that, for this event and for Houston, all teams and all FIRST people had equal opportunity to receive benefit.

However, that’s a medium- to long-term goal. For the short term (IE, this year) my vote is just to get the new event off the ground. Do anything that’s useful. From there, pick the best way to grow, then grow in that direction.

Financial barriers suck. I really wish there was some FRC donor who could make them all just go away. I aspire to be that person at some point in my life. But in the mean time, we’ll work toward the sub-optimal solutions, and hopefully something good will still come of it.

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I’ll sign up for reposting any slide decks we have, as well as doing Q/A (or maybe a youtube re-recording) of any content we have from the PhotonVision team.

From looking at the current presenter line up, I’d be shocked if any weren’t at least accepting of similar ideas. Whether or not this happens through official conference channels is questionable, but I’d be shocked if someone got snubbed in a CD post for asking for conference materials or followup.

Again, on the conference front: the mentor in me desires to remind all - keep in mind this is indeed the first year. Give them some leeway to choose which fish to fry. The one you perceive as biggest might not actually be the biggest.

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I fully agree with everything you’ve said so far. As an event organizer, running an event, especially a new one, is hard. Livestreaming is a nightmare in a new venue, and even getting useful audio and video of a dynamic presentation where you don’t control the lighting or dozens of audience members for a normal recording is difficult.

I’ve given one conference talk before this, and there’s no way I could handle recording myself while also speaking. I’m excited to have the opportunity to present at this conference this year, but I absolutely do not plan on trying to record myself.

I hope this year runs smoothly enough, and maybe next year there can be further consideration for “remote attendees.”

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It’s only 2 days, which is only for 4 meals, no? If you subtract the price of the shirt ($20-30), it’s reasonable for the area, depending if it’s good quality food.

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To me when I first saw this, I thought (and still believe) the biggest value is in the dedicated networking time with other mentors versus specific presentation content, which is why I signed up, and also what I think the organizers meant to indicate when describing mentors sharing experiences in the FAQ. I can understand wanting to encourage folks to be on-site so they can engage in more in-person networking, which is underrated in how useful it is in our community sometimes.

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Totally agreed that the biggest value for any kind of conference like this is the person to person networking. However, given the quality of the speakers and the breadth of content, there is also going to be a ton of value in the presentations themselves. It would be a missed opportunity if that content didn’t get recorded and distributed to the community. I can understand not wanting to take on the technology challenges involved with livestreaming… but recording isn’t terribly difficult and it would go a long ways towards advancing the stated goals for the event.

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I agree to some extent–if you search around online, you can find at least one presentation from most of the promoted presenters, so you sort of know what you’re getting (obviously with updated information). So I don’t believe access to what these folks say is exclusive to this forum, and most of them make efforts to make sure that their messages have at least one method of wide distribution. So I guess IMO regardless if there is a recording or livestream that takes place, I think the item above will take care of itself, and the best stuff across FRC seems to always get curated by either 3847 or 118 anyway.

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For someone who would need to travel from multiple states away to attend, while the $100 registration cost is an absolute steal, it’s the $800 - $1,000 travel cost (airfare, uber, hotel) that’s going to prevent me from attending. Bummer, but as others have said, hopefully they record the sessions and post them after.

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I have no idea where I got 8 from. I like your numbers better.

I would urge the organizers to offer a live or recorded version of the seminars to the general public, even if it is a paid to view offering. This is similar to how the SWE conference is held. Speaking as someone who spends a significant amount of money and over half of their job’s vacation in about one month of the year for volunteering at competitions and mentoring, spending more PTO is not feasible. Providing a recorded version also lets people remember important conversation points made in the seminar, as well as view multiple seminars if they are occurring at the same time.

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