How are you picking which students to go to events?

I assume most teams are running into this/will run into this, so I would like to see what people’s plans are.

Most offseasons are limiting team sizes (in our case, it’s 10 students+2 mentors). Assuming a drive team takes up 3 members (driver, operator, human player), pit crew takes up 3 members (with some drive team members also doing that kind of stuff), 4 slots are open. A ton of the new members, upper classmen, and officers also want to go. How do you narrow it down to the 4 other people to bring? My first thought was just to do driver trials, find the top 2 drivers and then two other people to do buttons and train out a new drive team. I also thought to somehow pick 4 new members to try to engage them in FIRST and see how fun events can be. I also thought to just bring officers.

How are you all deciding?

Note: This is not meant to be a discussion about the merit or lack thereof regarding person limits at events.

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Pandamaniacs have maybe 1-2 kids left who experienced an event in the Before Times. And generally we’re mission-oriented.

So my thinking (undiscussed with the teachers) is as such:

  • Does the event offer a webcast for scouts? Cool, we’re going to set that up at the school, do some dope snacks to atone for the lack of field trip, and beam that data back to our kids in the venue. We already base our scouting on Google Docs and GroupMe, so this is not a massive shift for us.
  • Is there in-person judging? If so, I’m going to get the people I need in the building for that.
  • Who’s a wildcard, the kid who knows a bit about a lot? They are higher on the list.
  • Now let’s try to balance out rookies and veterans, because if we stuff the box with seniors (we can’t, but you get the idea) then we’re hosed next year.

And I’m making sure the first several kids out on that list have their paperwork to travel ready, just in case someone goes down unexpectedly.

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That’s going to be an interesting question! Last season it ended up being pretty easy. There was only a small group of hard core kids that did “robots in my garage”, and there were a few of them that were booked for the one competition. We ended up with “everyone that wanted to go” actually going and not hitting the limit.

This year is going to be a lot more difficult; we’ve got lots of interest in the team. Previously we have tracked hours as a tool to measure a minimum level of commitment for the travel competitions. Plus driver tryouts… I haven’t talked about it with the faculty and mentors yet! I suspect we will have a bunch of discussion about how to spread the competition experience over more kids, and try to have a at least somewhat different teams at the competitions. We’ll have to see!

As a related item, I would suggest planning some backup kids that you are confident -could- go, so you can be sure that you fill your roster. In terms of keeping the team going and motivated, you want to maximize the kids going! Its not unusual to have one or two kids that can’t -actually- make it. Usually those aren’t your dedicated ones!

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Honestly, I feel lucky to be part of a small team for once. Battlecry we were able to get the whole current team there, though unfortunately some of the brand new students (like, less than a week in) had to watch from home. There was a 10 person cap for students and mentors.

For the fall, I graduated, so now we have 7 students. We haven’t really discussed it, but basically all 7 students and as many mentors as we can shove in with those remaining spots, and whoever can’t but still wants to go can volunteer or help in other ways. I can’t imagine having to make a decision about cutting kids, especially on a team with a culture like ours where everyone works so so hard and is such an integral part of the team.

I’d definitely prioritize driveteam, and recognize that seniors are going to be hurting, even if training is also really important. Ensure you have someone who understands every part of the robot and if you don’t, you better make sure they leave a very detailed instructions manual.

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@Billfred That’s a GREAT idea on the scouting! Our San Antonio event did live cast, and I know for a fact that some of the bigger teams were doing exactly what you describe, with a remote scouting/fun event.

Also great points on the seniors! You really DO want your seniors to get that competition experience, but you also need to make sure you get some of the other levels in for continuity.

We are going to explore doing some small off-season scrimmages with the local teams, hosted by teams with full fields. This has a lot of motivation potential plus driver training.

I’m also pushing hard to have two fully functional robots so we can do LOTS of driver training and defense practice. Again, both for skills and motivation/advertising!

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In terms of off-season, that’s a poor assumption for my team. We treat off-season events as training and exposure events - everyone who wants to has a chance to drive. Everyone who wants to has a chance to work in the pits. We’re going to do the best we can, but we aren’t there to win - we’re there to figure out what a competition is like so we can go into the season better prepared - especially this year!

Looking at it that way, it comes down to a question of “who do we need to help guide rookies in the pit? Who do we need to help guide new drivers?”. Answer that question, and pack the rest of the team with rookies that are looking for opportunities!

Thus far this fall, we’ve had 4 returning members and 10+ rookies, so it’s possible that our current bottom-heavy makeup is impacting my view :slight_smile:

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We treat offseasons the same way. Our main driver hasn’t driven/done stuff at an event yet, same with operator, same with human player (all seniors). They all want training/exposure,
but it’s hard when almost everyone is new to their roles. Pit crew could probably be cut down to 1-2 to help out newer members. This is why I lean towards bringing 4 people who we want to train on driveteam, and then while they aren’t on drive team they spend time in the pits. We want that core drive team (those 3 members I talked about before) in playoffs (assuming we make it).

Our team is extremely top heavy, that is probably impacting my view as well.

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I would like to see the spots given to the juniors and seniors on our team who have been involved since their freshman year. Our juniors haven’t been to a competition. They can take their knowledge into training up the younger students to get ready for the spring competitions. I know it’s important to get the up-and-coming students in the mix, but it just feels wrong to leave those who have been dedicated for 3-4 years out of the experience.

For Regionals in the spring if we are still limited I would like to split the team and give everyone a chance to go to one. We are not a top team, so I wouldn’t be worried about winning so much as giving everyone the chance to get that competition to pay off.

It is not up to me, just my opinion as a mentor.

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We are trying to mix the experienced and moderately experienced members attending, meaning it is mostly seniors and juniors. Our juniors only have attended one event so our goal is to be able to bring our juniors in leadership up to speed so that they are better equipped for the future while also being able to learn from the more experienced seniors.

Even pre-Covid we selected our travel squad based on “engagement” during build season — basically who showed up and got stuff done.

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Not all streaming is the same. I use previous matches for scouting training. However, it can be difficult to see certain actions that might be obscured by people standing in the foreground or the field elements.
Having said that, if the event limits the number of people to participate in an event - scouting is where you start. You can’t pit or drive remotely.

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I hope that given the current circumstances, that FIRST HQ pushes venues (and maybe even provides equipment to venues) to make the Livestream work well at events.

The school has a nice large auditorium that we could likely use for those members who do not go to comp.

As a team, we have not decided exactly what our game plan is with that. My personal opinion is to keep mentors to a minimum (2-4ish depending on how many students there). Probably start with essential rolls (drive team, pit crew, etc). Then invite other students as it makes sense.

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We are a tiny team, and have yet to see an event that would not allow us to take all of our students and mentors.

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For our upcoming offseason, the number of people interested was just slightly above the number we can take (it’s during our spring break, so a lot of families had other plans already). It seems like it will work out okay - there’s a couple people who can only come certain days, so I think everyone who wants to will be able to come for part of the comp. Like Jon_Stratis, we treat off-seasons as an opportunity for people to see what competitions are like and try all the roles they’re interested in; we’re not really concerned with bringing the “best” person for each role.

For real comps, we haven’t formally discussed how we’ll make the cuts. We have a history of bringing 1/4-1/3 of the team to travel competitions, so we have structures and expectations in place (students historically need 75% attendance + 15 hours of outreach to even be considered for the travel team, subject also to the mentors & president’s opinion of whether they were productive and focused when present). We will likely consider some additional factors this year - personally I would like to see all the new members with decent attendance and outreach get to go to at least one comp. We have a big senior class graduating in 2022 so it’s extra-critical to engage our new members this year.

I wonder whether some of the huge teams (100+ students) are considering registering two teams this year. If you’re already planning to build a practice bot and aren’t too strapped for cash, $5k to double the number of students who get to experience comp doesn’t seem crazy. My team is not nearly big enough for this to make sense for us, but I could imagine The Space Cookies or Cheesy Poofs doing it.

@snichols At the San Antonio event there were quite a few teams fielding multiple robots for this reason! Kind of surreal :wink:

Are your (multi-day) events allowing different people to attend on different days? The ones I’ve seen so far have said it needs to be the same set of people throughout, and I’m trying to get a read on whether to expect that as the norm or not. Thanks!

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Our event hasn’t said anything about it, so we’re planning to assume it’s fine until we hear otherwise. They’re requiring all attendees be vaccinated & masked, so maybe that affects how stringent they need/want to be as far as other requirements

We usually try to take the entire team (~50 members).
If we are limited to the number can take, our smallest preferred size is 29 (drive team, 2 pit crews, 2 scouting team). We have traveled with 17 members - this was the entire team size at that time.
How many we take really depends upon FIRST and the Venue.
The determination to who will travel with a smaller team will be based on dedication, ability, attitude, interest, etc.