How has your team changed from the 2013 season to 2014 season? The Devastators has had a drastic change in the last past year. So I decided to create this thread to hopefully inspire some teams to continue improving and to raise some important questions.
The Devastators at the end of the 2013 season became determined to start an internal mentorship program so we would not have a repeat of the great devastation ( Our seniors left in 2012 leaving us absolutely no knowledge. So our 2013 seasons we began as rookies again.) We placed fairly well at the TRR (Texas Robot Roundup) and we were featured on a local news station here in waco! That was a first! We also began actively pursuing outreach by demo’ing at over 15 different event in our town. Once school started back up we started our first ever mentorship program where our seniors mentored our BEST robotics team. Then our seniors (who are apart of an FTC team) challenged 3 members to make a 3 member FTC team and they began to mentor us as well. Also we recieved a 3D printer and had a lot of fun with that! Once season began we decided that this year we would compete at chairmans and we did really well for our First time. We also raised enough money to fund 2 regionals!
We also inspired a girl engineering club to start at our school and managed to get a robotics class! (MORE FRC TIME!!!) We are really proud of what we have done! So what have you guys done?
We’ve had a lot happen to us this year, a lot of personal stuff involving our main mentor that we do not wish to post to CD at this moment in time, but what has happened we mainly came into this build season a new team because of what did happen. it eventually ended up with us getting a new mentor who has been less then perfect.
We had a drastic increase in the number of students this year and in 2012, so we have mostly been training them in. We also brought in CAD and have expanded our PR team and since we didn’t make it to champs, we are currently trying to raise enough money for 2 regionals next year
I can honestly tell you that we significantly increased from last year’s 33rd place to this year’s 9th place finish. Even if this year’s build team primarily consisted of 3 other students under 14 and me (who is 14), we managed to do better than last year (when we had a ton of people). The biggest problem that we had was that more than half the team graduated last year, so we weren’t left with a big workforce. Thankfully, buying new machines and prolonging our build schedules to 6 days per week (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri : 3 hours each day after school; Sat, Sun : 10 hours per day) contributed greatly. Imagine! Last year, we were only working twice per week on the robot. Then again, it was only for 2 hours at a time, so I think you can get the picture … Buying brand new tools and machines, refurbishing and rearranging the workshop, … these factors all contributed to this year’s success. We deeply hope to improve even more such that our 2015 season will lead us to a regional win and a ticket to the Championship!
So how do you guys see your team growing and what do you need to get there?
We just need to expand out into our community and “find new problems” because we solved the problems in our team… That is what the judges told us for chairmans in OKC1
Robot wise we need new tools, new space, more mentors, and overall we just need to learn to brainstorm better. If we got some time with a good team and got a chance to see how they work I think we would be much better off. Also we need a deeper understanding in electronics and programming. We wire a basic robot to drive but vision systems is beyond us.
That’s pretty much the same with us. We know that we will never be one of the “super teams” (we’re a small, not very well funded team from a really small school) so we can’t focus a ton on outreach. We’re trying to do more in our school though, but most of what we’re focusing on improving is robot-related and fundraising
Thanks to our AMAZING veteran members our team was able to pick up our broken pieces and begin rebuilding (puns intended). We went through an entire mentor change at the end of 2012 so we were struggling immensely in 2013. However at the start of this year we really changed our overall game strategy by going more in depth in the off season to make sure everyone was prepared. A lot of props go to our mentors who had to learn from scratch again since we had another mentor reset (once at the end of 2012 once at the end of 2013). We got through it with a lot of preparation and we managed to complete one of our best seasons in a long time. Hopefully next years team 2637 will do even better than this years.
My advice for ANY team that is struggling is to always ask for help. I guarantee 2637 would not be here if chief delphi and the entire FIRST community didn’t exist. I’m sure you all know that though.
WOW. That progress is truly great. To answer your question, my team has made a lot of progress. In 2013, we ranked in the middle at WPI , the robot was o.k. , didn’t get picked for eliminations, but we won the gracious professional award.
This season we wanted to do things we haven’t ( have an auto., have a robot that could do most of the tasks).We went to the Groton district, ranked 18th, the robot was doing great, not picked, but we won the spirit award. Then we made some changes to the robot( added a high goal autonomous, made a new catapult ) and made more changes. We went to the Southington district, ranked 12th, and we picked an alliance for the first time as the 8th alliance captain :yikes: . Our alliance only made it to the quarterfinals but it felt so good to finally get to that point.
So to all you guys on teams that don’t always get picked a lot, don’t worry.One day after a long time of hard work, it will happen and it is going to be the best feeling in the whole world.
We entered our 2014 season knowing that we would have 40 seniors (~20 of whom have been on the team since their freshman year). This shaped everything we did this season-- the team focused on developing a concrete engineering process, improving our FTC and FLL feeder programs, and documenting everything.
We emphasized co-leading with seniors and underclassmen to make sure that the transition from 82 students to 40 some would be relatively painless (we aren’t recruiting as much for FRC because we’ve found we can give students a better experience working with FTC).
Overall there was a much higher emphasis on creating a professional environment where students could experience something more akin to an actual engineering firm (this included emphasis on CAD, introducing a stage/gate process, and more formalized budgets). This emphasis served us very well- there isn’t a single person on the team that doesn’t agree that this was the best robot the team has ever built, and while we managed to come away with no awards (for the first time since our rookie year), there was almost no aspect that we didn’t improve drastically in since the previous year.
Bluntly, 2478 started existing again between 2013 and 2014.
More precisely, Westwood High got together a group of mentors who wanted to support a team and a group of 60+ students who wanted to build a robot. It’s nice to see my home high school host a team - before, those of us who wanted to participate in FRC joined Plasma Robotics (2403) because most of us lived out that way and it was the largest team in Mesa at the time. Plus, having a team at Westwood allows local students to participate, too. The school is in the poorer area of Mesa, and because of this most of the students who would otherwise be interested in FIRST can’t travel elsewhere easily to participate.
We’ve got a solid core of students, too. Roughly a fifth of them are graduating seniors (and mostly FIRST veterans from 2403). However, we spent much of the build season involving as many students as possible to both enhance their skills as engineers and ensure that the team as a whole had the experience to continue operating for years to come. Though, I’m sure many of those graduating seniors are going to come back as mentors next year (like I did ).
To be honest, it’s just nice to see FIRST grow with the help of students who genuinely want to be part of the experience. And if rebuilding 2478 does that, then we’re doing our job in “changing the culture”, I would think.