Is there any place for analytical thinkers on an FRC team?

I am known as an analytical, out-of-the-box thinker. At the beginning of the season, our team was deciding on a robot design. our process involved weighting each task based on its points and its difficulty. Despite my pressures we really didn’t decide on a measureable goal to focus on other than trying to get as many points as possible. My question is do you have/ think it would be a good idea to have a group of analytical thinkers who dissect the game and prioritize tasks based on their usefulness to achieving a goal, or is it better to focus on points solely and leave all strategy to after build?


See: Karthik Kanagasabapathy


r/iamverysmart material right here.

Find the best items to maximize points earning within a match. if you have more points than the other alliance, you win. ezpz.



Rephrasing: Should you try to figure out the requirements and priorities before you design, or build something and wait until crunch time to see if it is doing the right thing?

I hope my re-phrased question doesn’t really need an answer.


Too late at this juncture, but for next season… I would create a game strategy based on YOUR team’s strengths and capabilities, and then base your robot design on what your game strategy prioritized.

So for example, if your team has never built a lift or elevator, then I would not have prioritized the rocket ship in your game strategy and consequently it should not be in your robot design.

You will be much more successful and your team will have a lot more fun if you have a robot that does a few things really well versus a robot that does everything subpar or worse a robot that can’t do anything because you prioritized too many things and couldn’t complete them.


THANK YOU. It’s good to know somebody else agrees with me. It would be un-GP to rant about the cargo mechanism that keeps being suggested, so I won’t.

A lot of these kinds of issues can be solved when clear cut objectives are placed at the beginning of the build season as opposed to the end.


I’m pretty sure my original question completely missed the point of what I was trying to ask. I wanted to propose a concept to my team of a group
(experienced members of our team) that decided by week 1 what we are actually capable of, and what we should focus on, and what we won’t attempt. At this point, our mechanical/design team does all of that work, and regularly tries to do as much as possible, while being great at none of them.

Consider it a learning opportunity. Sometimes we learn best from our mistakes (and failures). Make sure to discuss this in your post season review and learn from it. Your mentors should be helping you navigate this as well.

Can you define “clear cut” in this context?

Sure! It may not be entirely practical, but the Strategy subgroup is kind of the group that dissects the game and prioritizes tasks. It’s probably best to have some sort of strategy before building the bot so you can build the bot based on the strategy and not the other way. This will get you a more concrete bot with a design that reflects the goals of the game. Also note that those in your drive team generally have experience with this kind of stuff and have some sort of the strategic sense necessary to think on the fly in the game as well as pre-plan.

Strategically analyzing the game and building within your team’s limits are probably the two most important things that make a successful robot; more so than effectively building that robot. If you do both of those well, you can have a very good season with very few resources (see: everybot, Ri3D, MCC). If you try to exceed your team’s abilities, you will easily end up like the hundreds of teams each year that show up to competition with a complicated robot that doesn’t work. If you don’t properly strategically analyze the game, you can end up with a robot that is very good at doing something that isn’t worth much in the game (see: all of the robots in 2017 that prioritized fuel over gears).

The only other thing I can think of that is as important to competitive capability as these two for most teams (and is closely related) is time spent in drive practice and related drills. Skipping or short-shrifting the strategic analysis is, in my experience, ALWAYS a mistake.

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Your team does not need to add a cargo handling mechanism to their robot. Your team needs to add a really good cargo handling mechanism to their robot. That is assuming all of the other mechanisms are already really good.

You are on the right track. You and your team should watch study the “Strategic Design” lectures given by Mike Corsetto of 1678 and Karthik of 1114. There are several versions of each on YouTube. Those videos answer the questions you are asking as well as some you probably don’t know you need to ask.

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The thing is, they aren’t. One of our original goals ( which were taken as minimum requirements) is Hab 2 climb, which we can’t do.

Did y’all have any comprehensive robot design that met your team goals by the first week of build season?

Of course it’s good idea to analyze the game and decide which priorities will best help your team accomplish its (S.M.A.R.T.) goals for the season. That’s part of the engineering process: evaluating trade-offs and developing requirements. Planning is important for success, of course.

However, the way you’re approaching this seems potentially problematic to me (I agree with MikLast that this is approaching /r/iamverysmart material). Your post seems like it’s mainly intended for you to gain affirmation, rather than to learn something. It also troubles me how you call yourself an “analytical thinker” and how you talk about your mechanical/design team.

It sounds like your team already does some strategic design if your mechanical team “does all of that work”. Maybe it’s incomplete, misguided, or overly optimistic. It seems like you are saying though that you and other “experienced members” will be better than the mechanical team at deciding on design priorities. Maybe this is true, but if you present it this way it will probably be poorly received. I think the correct way to talk about it is in terms of improving and refining your current development process. If I may ask, what is your current role on the team?

Maybe I’m getting the wrong impression by your comments. However, I think if your team is not understanding the importance of strategic design, you might need to look inward and think about how you can communicate your opinions about strategic design better, and how you can gain buy-in from the entire team (maybe enlist like-minded students/mentors). Especially if your (probably reasonable) suggestions to have more focused priorities are ignored, it sounds like there is an issue in team communication or in how you are presenting the idea. Having a separate strategy team seems like it could lead to more dysfunction if it leads to two disconnected sub-teams. The ideal is that the whole team is aligned on how you plan to develop and execute on a strategy and priorities.

I guess what I’m saying is if I’m getting the impression that you are being a tad pompous, maybe your teammates will too? No offense is intended; I haven’t seen your team so I’m extrapolating from limited data.


In many situations, it is very helpful to take into account what the other party, in this case your mechanical group, brings to the table and what their goals and objectives may be. As an engineer, I often “just look a the facts” and may miss taking people’s feelings and emotions into account. This sometimes makes it harder for me to make my case even though I may have the better idea. Reading this book every few years has helped me work more effectively with other people.

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Sounds like your team already has a design process.

What measurable goal did you have in mind? Ranking points? Total points? You do realize that some teams will change their strategies based not only what their alliance can do but what the opposite alliance will do. You may be the best hatch panel cycling bot in the match but if your alliance needs you to concentrate on cargo or defense to win will you be locked into your week one measurable?

Focusing on points IS a strategy. Focusing on defense is also a strategy. However, if you focus on ranking points you may end up with a bot that can do everything but doesn’t do anything well. While this might not get you to elims, it can be a learning experience where the team learns that they have to either be better/faster at getting a robot ready OR the team decides that they should concentrate on less and be better at doing less.

Week 1 is the time to propose concepts. Why didn’t you do it then? Again, how much the team tries to do or not do, is something that might not be in the student’s control.

Something that happens to every team every build/competition season is the realization that a design/mechanism isn’t working and either has to be scrapped or redesigned.