How We Deal With Change Is Up To Us

I’ve been following the threads that have to do with some of the changes that are in store for the upcoming 2010 FRC competition season. In my opinion, there is a lot of sarcasm, complaining, and negativity being voiced, often by mentors. Is all of it a necessary or needed contribution to the discussions?

Part of competing in FRC is dealing with change and managing it, professionally. There has been a significant downturn in the economy that has impacted sponsors, suppliers, teams, mentors, budgets, and personal lives. What it shouldn’t impact is our professional attitude and how we conduct ourselves in dealing with the changes to the 2010 season.

(I tried to keep up with the news yesterday and saw news of too many typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis, and the lives impacted and lost. It tends to keep things in perspective somewhat. Being caught in the terrible situations would probably bring things even more into perspective.)

There are suppliers and sponsors that are continuing to contribute and continuing to show support for FRC and for FIRST, in general, even with the downturn and with all of the changes. We should keep that in mind and perhaps, extend a thank you or two to them.


I’d like to second this and add the the 2009 Michigan District Pilot wasn’t well received by many but by the end of the season had a 94% rating of good or excellent. So keep an open mind about things.

stands an applauds OP


Couldn’t agree more. I think we all can say that FRC is going through a couple years in which a lot is going to change, we all may not like the changes, but we don’t see what FIRST sees. These changes may seem dumb, inexcusable, and wrong to some, but we should all see a large difference for the better down the road. I too don’t like some of the changes that are being made with who gets what in the KOP, but if that is what FIRST has to do in order for them not to lose money than that’s alright to me. In a couple of years(or maybe way into the future) of not seeing some of these items in the KOP are just fine with me.

So let the change come, what I have learned through FIRST is priceless!

Great point/topic.

I agree that we all need to adapt to the changes, but we also have to remember that there are 2 sides to every coin. Some of these mentors’ lives have been turned upside down over the past year. Many have lost jobs or had their jobs severely impacted by the recession. To them FIRST is the only normal thing they have & that is changing.

We all need to keep GP in mind, especially in these times of change and trouble. Most people can be at their best under normal conditions. It is when things around you seem to be falling apart that you need to be at your best.

Jane, I know at least one of the threads you are speaking about (I’ve stayed away from a good number of the other ones) In some cases mentors are not complaining about the changes themselves, they are complaining about the spin FIRST is putting on them.

Change is a fact and while we have to deal with it everyone has to deal with it in their own way, some people need to be sarcastic and negative because that is the only way they can deal with the world changing around them. I know that many of the mentors are phenomenal men and women who, despite their personal feelings, will deal with the change when they need to. Right now there is nothing wrong with open discussion about the changes, realistically speaking we, as a society, only have one true manner of attaining new knowledge, intelligent discussion. Yes some of the posts have gotten a little whiny and a negative but by and large the discussion has stayed on course.

The phrase this thread brings to mind, in my opinion, is “suck it up and deal with it.” This bothers me because it is saying that we shouldn’t question what FIRST does, we should be good little lemmings and follow whatever they tell us to do. So, I guess the thought in my mind is, Change may be inevitable but we need to form our own opinions about it so that in the future we can help to make sure it is change for the better and not merely for change’s sake.

Jane, I agree completely.

Also, if those folks are going to complain so much, publicly, then why are they in FIRST? Sure we all have our gripes and such, but boasting about “Oh, this here bagging rule sucks” for example, is just not something I would expect from a FIRST Mentor.

I personally like what they’re doing, especially allowing teams to bag their robots and bring them to certain events. For my team, there are many regionals in the area within driving distance of a few hours or so. I’d say that shipping a robot from Niagara Falls, ON to a destination two hours away, when you are going there yourself afterwards, is pointless.

I just hope that the volunteers can cope with the really packed schedules, and still maintain the environment of “professional fun” we are all used to.


Frustration about trying to “sell” us an idea may come out in sarcasm, but I wouldn’t see it as out right whining.

I’ve yet to read such posts from mentors. Most of the mentors who have “complained” have been in this program for a number of years.

I’ve been following the threads that have to do with some of the changes that are in store for the upcoming 2010 FRC competition season. In my opinion, there is a lot of sarcasm, complaining, and negativity being voiced, often by mentors. Is all of it a necessary or needed contribution to the discussions?

Since some of my posts can be read that way, I’ll take the time here to respond.

I’m a mentor. I work a full time job, and due to cutbacks etc. I end up working more than 40 hours a week. I commute for hours back and forth in the localized hell called South Eastern Pennsylvania, where 4 million people travel each day on roads dating back to William Penn. I teach at a local university. I teach a beginning Mentor class for VEX. I’m the Chief Roboteer for the Downingtown Area Robotics VEX team(s) (currently 40+ kids). I’m an FRC mentor (project management and electronics). I’m on the D-A-R steering team. So I’m busy, I have a lot going on, I have a lot of balls in the air. I spend about 4 nights a week with robot stuff off season, during January and February even the cat doesn’t remember me. I also spend a tidy sum of my companies money on robots as a sponsor and somehow I spend money out of my own pocket.

So I don’t have time for gratuitous BS. I don’t have time for people that have hard dead lines to meet and miss them. I don’t have time to listen to spin about how someone is making my life better when they are not. I don’t have time to get involved in petty internal politics. I have stuff to do, places to be, projects (like building robots) to make happen, roboteers to inspire.

You have a problem and want help, just ask. Don’t whine about it being hard, if it was easy, they wouldn’t have asked you to do it.

I went back and looked at my last three “cranky” posts.

  • VRC/FRC debacle from a year ago - I felt I was being snowed and manipulated. It was an internal politic issue that drove the change and there was an attempt to sell it as “better”. I’m not an outliers on this view, I’m in pretty stellar company when I look at posts around mine.

  • Lack of hard dates for events. I was surprised and still am at not having dates locked in 8 months out. I have friends in the A/V business, they tell me that most large venues know 18 months out whats booked. Yes there are holes and yes they would love to toss you out if you are doing a discounted rate for someone thats paying full rates. But the times are tough for them and they are getting more and more canceled dates than closed dates. I called three University arenas in the area, five day dates (remember setup / teardown) with a weekend are in short supply, start booking now for 2012.

  • Cost of the KoP. I understand all the issues, etc around the KoP. (It’s not $5000 worth of parts, things are donated, availability, etc.) So say all that up front. Tell the story, tell the back story, tell me whats going on. Don’t show up and go “cheaper for you”. May be for some, won’t be for others. Will be a problem for us since our primary sponsor pays for “the registration” and now I need another $1500 to keep my demo robots (that we use all the time to fund raise) alive. I don’t appreciate the spin.

Bottom line - I have a ton of time, money and effort into FIRST because I believe in it. But as a mentor I want to be treated like a partner, not some high school student. I get the big picture, feel free to color in some of the important details of your choices. The farther in advance that I know about the change the better choices I can make for me and my teams.

We all need to keep GP in mind, especially in these times of change and trouble.

Saying that something isn’t true is not being anti-GP. Not responding to the more outlandish items is just as bad. This is a real hot button for me. Any time anyone takes FIRST to task about what they are doing there is a post about “well you’re not being GP”. Remember, FIRST is a business, would you put up with some of these items from your vendor of choice? Would you expect your vendor to treat you this way?

I don’t have a lot of posts. I do have a reasonable amount of reputation points compared to the small number of posts. And I’m willing to put them up at this time, these issues are important, especially in these times. Trying to cover them up under the blanket of GP is disingenuous.

I find it interesting that for any issue X, some are saying, “I hate X!”. While others without the X option are saying, “Why can’t we do X?”

Things are changing, people. You have to keep up with changes, whether you like them or not. Not enough practice time to complete your robot at a regional? Then you complete your robot sooner. Not enough time for inspections? Then you get more inspectors and have more teams prepared for inspections as soon as they enter the pits.

I’m not thrilled when someone tells me this change is going to be the greatest thing that happens to me. I didn’t like it when my job councellor said it. No, making a difficult decision about leaving a job was not the best thing that ever happened. But there can be positives in the midst of the negatives - I’m seeing that now.

So maybe the reduced KoP isn’t the best thing for every team. Maybe the way it is presented as all positive with no negative isn’t completely fair either. But those who see it as all negative with no positives aren’t looking in the right places yet, or aren’t looking hard enough. The same can be said for bagging/vs/ship, reduced-services regionals and shortened-time regionals.

I will agree that there are some issues that have to be resolved, and really should have been resolved before the announcements were made. And that the announcements are coming much too close to event sign-up for most people to make fully informed decisions. That’s something for FIRST to work on improving. I’m sure they’re scrambling for alternatives just as hard as teams are, as sponsors are forced to change support levels in hard times. I want to balance my responses between, “C’mon, give’m a break” and “They should have known better.” Tempered with a feeling that, “They’re doing the best they can with what they have.”

As expected, “You must spread some Rep …” - thanks for starting this, Jane.

I agree completly. I would never suggest that you shouldn’t stand up for what you believe in. I have just as many questions about the future of this organization. I think people need to ask questions in order to make sure FIRST is fully thinking things through.

I just ask people to make sure they whatch how they say things and where they direct them.

What people seem to forget is that we are customers. As soon as we pay nothing to register or compete, I will stop judging the changes that are made or asking to be told the whole story of what is happening behind the scenes. That will not happen soon. Some people do need to admit that these changes can make it harder on certain teams, and others need to admit it can make the experience better. What will happen? The pure honest truth is no one knows. It might come out being fun and the teams will manage to get what they need to compete. On the other hand teams may be in turmoil because something they were used to is now not an option. All I can tell you is nothing will change until we do.

Foster, I agree with you to a degree. There are many of us who sacrifice free time for whatever endeavors we partake, be it robotics, grad school, pets, kids, or all of the above.

In my opinion, there is a lot of sarcasm, complaining, and negativity being voiced, often by mentors. Is all of it a necessary or needed contribution to the discussions?

My opinion is that yes, it’s needed. Our voice is really the only way we can express our opinions. Often times, FIRST will never know how we feel or to what extent we feel about something unless there are extremes of negativity, complaining, and sarcasm (or the opposite).

Yet can unfounded tripe, close-minded opinions, and biased griping about a tangent topic be grouped into a general category of babbling idiocy? Yes, and it should. It’s why I believe that rep points should be given to a post and not to the person (like slashdot, thereifixedit, digg, etc) so that such posts eventually disappear into the oblivion of memory.

Yet (and this is my point) mentors have the capability to have much more time and money invested into FIRST than any high school student, and to say that we shouldn’t at least listen to any one opinion from a mentor at least once on a given topic is saying that all of CD is becoming as closed minded as the babbling idiots themselves. Of course, this is only my opinion, and I won’t deny my own ramblings on these forums.

You may have been reminded of that phrase but that was not the intention of starting this thread. If my intention is to express that someone suck it up, I’ll say that and I will be clear.

I have no problem with posts that suggest what appears to be ‘spin’ or a double standard or a blur in communications. I have no problem with crunching numbers to clarify stances or with discussion expressing frustrations and disappointments. I have a problem with the manner in which some of the frustrations and disappointments are sometimes expressed. If students read the posts that mentors make that contain biting sarcasm and disrespect towards a program that everyone is a part of in some form or fashion, what is to stop students from role modeling that behavior? If biting sarcasm and negative remarks become the standard by which we follow, then what has happened to our professionalism?

If I am unhappy with a new procedure in my office, I can guarantee you that if I use biting sarcasm as a method with which to address the topic with my superiors, it will not be to my professional benefit. FRC is an opportunity for students to work side by side with engineers and professionals in problem solving - sometimes, real-world problem solving such as some of the new changes and constraints we are and may be facing in the year 2010. How we deal with those changes and address those changes is up to us.

Jane, I wasn’t implying that was your goal. I know that you encourage thought and I appreciate that. Sorry you felt that I was saying that.

Thanks for clarifying the point I was trying to make.

:slight_smile: I thought you were the one that was clarifying. It is good advice.