You’re ok with an Andymark or Vex designed drive base, but not a mentor designed drive base. You’re ok with a mechanism that uses Vex planetary gearsets, but not one that involves a mentor on your own team. These are devices designed explicitly for FRC teams by FRC mentors. Do you see how there is no such thing as a 100% student built robot? Every single team is collaboration, whether they want to be or not.
Once upon a time there was no KOP drive train, or off the shelf gearboxes (unless you count the drill motor gearsets, which I don’t). Every team had to gin up a drive train every year from scratch. It was common for teams to not move in matches, and it was punishing for rookies and vet teams alike.
And still, when the kitbot debuted there were a lot of voices on CD and elsewhere bemoaning the dumbing down of FRC. There was this idea that FIRST just giving teams a working drive train would rob students of all the education that came with calculating gear ratios, center to center distances, learning all the gear terminology and so on. But this was wrong; students still learn plenty about drive trains, even though that knowledge is nigh on useless and entirely not the point of the program. The more important result is that students have a lot more fun when the robot drives, and there is a direct link between fun and continuing involvement. The longer students are involved the better the odds that they benefit.
Two big issues with your line of thinking;
The first is that there is any such thing as a entirely mentor designed or built robot. You’re certainly not the first to posit such a thing, but I’ve never seen in it in nearly 20 years in FIRST. Every single robot, from the biggest most successful and best funded teams with 80 mentors to the teams that think they’re 100% student run depend on the effort of both mentors and students alike. I’d suggest that the all mentor built teams have a lot less mentor involvement then you’d think, and the 100% student built teams have a lot more mentor involvement then you think (including your own). But the exact proportion of student or mentor effort is totally inconsequential, because your second flaw is thinking that this is about education.
It isn’t. The goal of FRC is not to teach you about robots, or CAD, or design or fabrication or even engineering. Anything you learn along those lines is totally incidental and in the long term just as useless as the sport specific skills you learn on a high school sports team. The reasons we teach kids how to dribble balls and skate on ice and do back flips isn’t so they know how to do those things when they’re 40. It’s so that they know how to work as a team, the importance of persistence, hubris and grace and all the other totally intangible things that come with youth athletics. The soccer ball is a vehicle, just like the robot.
Will you learn some hands on skills in FRC? Inevitably, but it doesn’t really matter if you do or not. FRC teaches you how to build FRC robots and beyond that the skills are less transferable then you’d think. The goal is to convince you and your fellow students that STEM stuff is important and worth the huge effort it takes to learn it.
Four years of FRC is a drop in the bucket of engineering skill and knowledge. The next four years in college gets you a couple cup fulls. The next four years of work experience gets your bucket half full and you’ll spend the next 30 filling it the rest of the way. Don’t get too hung up on how much you are or aren’t learning in FRC; the important thing is that you learn whether or not you want to commit to a career in STEM.
And have fun. That’s an important and easy to forget part, mid season.