Karthik & 1114: Effective FIRST Strategies 2015 - Championship Conference

With the Championships in St. Louis rapidly approaching, I’d like to remind teams of the FIRST Robotics Conference which will be taking place. After a one year absence, myself and Team 1114 will once again be delivering our seminar on Effective FIRST Strategies, taking place at 7:00pm on Wednesday evening. This year, FIRST has graciously given us 1.5 hours to present on this topic, which will allow us to cover some topics at a much more in depth level than the past, as well as covering some topics specifc to the 2015 season and Recycle Rush. Also, since this is the last presentation of the evening, I plan on talking on until security throws us out of the building. :wink: (Seriously though, this year when security asks us to leave, we have to leave. It’s not fair to them!)

For the past 10 years, this presentation has always been given in a conference room that got a little bit crowded. However, thanks to the awesome people at FIRST this year’s presentation will be taking place in the Ferrera Theatre, located outside of the pits, which seats up to 1500 people. I don’t think we’ll even be close to filling the theatre up, but it’d be awesome if you tried. :slight_smile:

Here are the threads discussing previous editions of this seminar:


Here’s video from the 2013 version of this presentation:

Here’s video of the TEDx talk that was inspired by many of the elements of this presentation:

And the abstract:

This presentation focuses on three major areas, Strategic Design, Match Planning/Execution, and Scouting. Rather than spending time on equations and detailed calculations, the Strategic Design gives a more high-level overview of how to design an FRC robot. This portion of the presentation includes sections on such often neglected strategic design areas such as Game Analysis, Chokehold Strategies, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Task Prioritization, and Tradeoffs using a case studies from past games. The Match Planning/Execution section of the presentation discusses effective habits and strategies that will help lead a team to victory. This is a must for those who enjoy the strategic aspects of FIRST. The Scouting section deals with effective techniques to collect information on your partners/opponents, and how to make the most of this data. Advanced statistical metrics analgous to “Sabremetrics” in baseball will also be discussed. The presentation is filled with entertaining and insightful historical FIRST anecdotes from the past 17 years. With the information in this presentation, you can turn your team from a mere competitor to a perennial powerhouse!
This year we’ll cover most of the topics in the presentation with a case study of Recycle Rush. I want to talk about the paradigm shift this game represented and how any team with a proper strategic design process would have been prepared for this shift. I’ll do a lot of referring to the process 1114 used this year to create Simbot SideSwipe.

If there are any topics you’d like to discussed in detail, or questions you’d like answered, post them here and we’ll be happy to address them during the presentation. One of my favourite parts of this presentation is the interactive nature of the whole thing. If you’re looking for a straight lecture on all the topics, I suggest you watch the webinars we did this fall as part of the Simbot Seminar Series. The Championship edition varies in that the presentation contains more anecdotes and stories from the past, as well lots of live feedback from the audience.

If you’re really into FIRST strategy, looking for personal inspiration, or just want some good FIRST related laughs, this is a presentation you won’t want to miss.

For information please visit the following link:

I hope to see all of you there!

Wow, glad to see you’re getting more space this year. Can’t wait!

For those that can’t attend, will there be a recording of this presentation?

  • Sunny G.

Will this be live-streamed or recorded? My team REALLY wants to see this, Sideswipe has blown our minds!

  1. How do you guys go around with the absurd amount of iteration you do during build season? How do you figure out flaws in designs when they haven’t even been made? (This is in reference to the EWCP show they did)

  2. How did you come about deciding to clear out the landfill (literally!)? Did you think something like this? “Most teams will go for a slow, methodical stacker. We should do that but faster!”


Just wanted to bump this back up now that competitions have died down. 1923’s entire team will be in attendance - the online versions are mandatory viewing for MidKnight Inventors, and I know they’re excited to see it live!

We will definitely make every effort to attend.

Hopefully I can think of another tough intelligent question ;). There is always something new to be learned with each talk, even for the veteran mentors.

I have eager young members of my team looking forward to learning from one of the best. Of course I will do everything in my power to foster and encourage this. We will see you there!

Will this be livestreamed? Is there someone assigned to record it and post it on youtube?

I really want to see this, and I think it would be benifical for my entire team.

Do we just show up or do we have to sign up somewhere?

I had this question too - I have sent an email to FIRST to ask for clarification.

Edit: answer from FIRST - “All of the conferences are drop in. We look forward to see you there.”

I’m pumped for this presentation. Looking forward to talking robots and strategy, and sharing some jokes for 90 minutes with the community. I’ll see all of you tomorrow! If you have any questions you want to pre ask, please post them here and I’ll address them during tomorrow’s presentation.

You may be already planning on talking about it, but how do you strategically approach selecting the 4th robot for your alliance?

Even more generally, if you could do more discussion on how to best analyze your scouting data for alliance selection once you have it, that would be awesome. Can’t wait to attend the conference! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

You may want to address the strategic dilemmas of “mid-tier” teams such as ours. Like many teams our goal is to get to championships and then be part of an alliance that advances far into elims. Our chosen strategy, and robot design, was great for champs but not so great for regional play, the result being that we never made it to champs.

We decided that a viable strategy for our team, given our decent but not exceptional resources, would be to embrace the role of can specialist. We correctly anticipated that most teams and, certainly the top tier teams, would aim to seed highest and thus spend a lot of time developing tote capabilities. Knowing that we wouldn’t likely keep up with the scoring of the top couple of teams at the regionals we attend, our strategy was to complement the top teams by grabbing cans off the step and scoring them on stacks of 4 or 5. If we could grab 2, or even 3 cans, during auto we figured a top team would have to pick us. If we spent our build season trying to develop a tote stacker (like the many robot-in-3-days) we would a)not be as good as the best teams and b)not be of interest to the best teams, certainly not in St.Louis.

So we spent our whole build season developing a very fast, stout can grabber system. We knew better than try to be one of the best do-it-all robots.

But when we analyzed week 1 and 2 scores as we prepared for our Utah regional (week 3) we realized that no one would care if we got cans off the step as in week 1 and 2 the scores were so much lower than we anticipated. 3 cans were generally all that any alliance could score at that point of the season. We realized that there wouldn’t be a role for our strategy at Utah. And we were largely right. At Las Vegas the cans off step really only came into play in finals and by then we had been eliminated.

Thus the dilemma of a mid-tier team hoping to do well at champs, and experienced enough to do a decent strategic analysis and also experienced enough to be realistic about resources. We were smart enough to identify a viable niche strategy that we could build and would be desirable at champs. Yet the very niche strategy that might have done well at the highest level doomed us to never getting to that level.

It is an interesting conundrum that I’m sure that many teams like ours will face again next year…

I’m not attending worlds, but I will definitely be looking forwards to the presentation being on Youtube after.

To whomever is recording this*, it would be swell if you could record the audio from the mic (easier said than done, possibly) and add the audio in post. The 2013 video’s audio is a little… rough.

*I’m assuming a Simbot cast is doing the “official” recording, and so I really mean them, but its an open invitation.

Thank you for putting on such an awesome presentation! Every time I hear it, I always take away so many different things. Thanks for the laughs, and for everything you do for the FIRST community!

First, thank you Libby. This is an excellent idea. I think I am going to make this mandatory for FRC Team 68, Truck Town Thunder, as well.

Karthik - Another great presentation! I was disappointed when I wasn’t able to make it “in time”’ last year and I was really excited to hear that you were able to present in the theatre this year. (Its too bad there was volunteer security in the room and we couldn’t have heard more) I want to say that as a new leader of Truck Town Thunder, (2010), I have taken a lot of what you have said in this presentation and applied it to our team. We can attribute “rebirth” of our team and the successes we have had to many of the FIRST community and their Gracious Professionalism. FIRST has been a tremendous experience for me as a mentor and I have seen how applying the strategies used in your presentation to our team has really helped us. Don’t get me wrong, we have had numerous teams help and inspire us but since I am able to give them a direct thank you, due to proximity, I haven’t been able to have many conversations with you in order to tell you thank you. Both this presentation and your Chairman’s presentation have been a tremendous help to our team this year. I feel proud to be part of such a great community. I want to take the time to encourage all teams to go to Karthik’s presentation, watch it, study it and always strive for perfection! Excellence is an honor and I feel blessed to be able to achieve excellence as my term as team leader of what I consider to be one of the best teams in FIRST, Truck Town Thunder!

Karthik, from the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank you for inspiring me to be the leader I am today. Thank you for reminding me why I do this! Thank you for reminding me of what is important! Thank you for introducing me to Vince Lombardi! Thank you for being a mentor!

Go Truck! #bleedorangeandblue

Was there a recording made of this presentation? I know the majority of the content is probably similar to the several other iterations of this presentation already published, but I (and probably many others) would like to hear the case study on Recycle Rush.

waits for a video eagerly

Anyone saw it live? Anything really unique this year?

Although I very much wanted to attend the seminar, we had only a skeleton crew of students out of school the first day and with robot and scouting work in progress were not able to split off a group to attend.

I saw mention earlier in the thread of a video recording, but have not seen any posting of where that might be. I’ve got the links to the earlier versions of the seminar still on my to do list.

Thank you for the work that must go into preparing and delivering this, on top of everything else.