Life of a FIRST Robotics Member

Currently we are switch from the excitement of the season to the anticipation of the off-season. For one of my off-season projects I must get help from all of you. You can help me by answering one simple question:

  **What have been the most exciting/most annoying things you have done or experienced in robotics?**

No answer is incorrect (unless it doesn’t follow Chief Delphi regulations) and any input can really help me out.

Thank You From
Team 701 Student Ian Workman

The most exiciting: Winning the Engineering Inspiration award after three years of very very hard work. Three years of my life paid off in that moment and it would be very hard to express that feeling.

The most annoying: Having new mentors every year, luckily for us the lead business mentor is a college student. The problem is with our engineering mentors. This year, GM sent us mentors with no previous knowledge of the competition and very questionable engineering expertice. The worst part of it is thar when somebody tried to make a suggetion or question the way mentors wanted the robot to be build they would kick us out from the workshop. I as the most experienced member of the mechanics team had very deep problems with the mentors (I even think that the lead mentor took it personal). When I tried to suggest an improvement or a better way to design the robot I was accused by the lead mentor of trying to “overthrow” him… and I swear I never was disrespectful to him. This ended in our robot having a very lame performance. (Our robot had very serious common sense issues this years due to the sturborness and lack of knowledge by our mentors)

Sometimes things go right, sometimes things go wrong, but the most important thing is being inspired. I was inspired by the performance of our mentors to become a mechatronic engineer (It’s a career in which you learn mechanics, programming and electronics, a very demanding career but totally worth it).

The most exciting: I’d say my most exciting part of robotics is the competitions. I know that a lot of people would say that but through FIRST I’ve gained so many friends that I look forward to seeing at competition every year. The energy is insane and no matter what’s going on in my personal life, I can put it all on hold and help run my team. It’s the best feeling ever. :slight_smile:

The most annoying thing: Probably the changing of mentorship and leadership. We ran into a lot of change-ups in our mentors and everything this year. 2 out of the 3 mentors we had, really had very little experience with FIRST so it made things a little rough.

Overall an awesome experience, just like last year. :smiley:

Most exciting:
Being down there on the field on Einstein to watch my team compete. 862 has NEVER won any districts or regionals before this year, let alone a whole CMP division. Winning that division alongside 148 and 1678 was one of my most memorable and exciting memories. Not just of robotics, but in my whole life.

Most Annoying:
Always being the first one done during build season, but never being able to test code because fabrication, CAD, and electrical lag behind programming.

Traveling to over a dozen regional and off season events is pretty exciting.
Getting stuck waiting in line for planes or at borders crossings not so much.

tieing the record for farthest a minnesota team has ever made it (division finalists)

So about a week and a half into build season we added one of our rookie members to our CAD and Code dropbox. He was and still is running some weird Linux setup on his computer. When we got to the shop the next morning all of the files in the dropbox were reading as zero kb. All the last edits were made at the exact same time in the night, about the time when he was added to the dropbox. Thank god for dropboxes restore previous version, it still took about two hours to fix everything, but its better then starting over, needless to say he is not allowed on the dropbox with his computer until we track down the source of the problem. Thankfully though we had gotten a team labtop in the offseason.

What have been the most exciting thing you have done or experienced in robotics?

The most exciting thing is perhaps working during crunch time.

You’re watching a match, and all of a sudden, the robot trips. Not literally, of course, but there’s a slight hiccup. The robot operator flinches, and while no one knows yet, I know that there’s a problem. We finish the match with the usual end game, but as the drive team frantically pulls the robot off the field, I stare at the match schedule. My heart drops as I realize that there’s only 15-20 minutes left to apply whatever fix is required to fix the random problem. The race is on.

What have been the most annoying thing you have done or experienced in robotics?

Students who don’t try, or better yet, students who are resume-pushers.

I’ll take the previous question and rephrase it slightly for another answer:
What has been the most saddening thing you have done or experienced in robotics?

When students crack under the pressure. As a mentor, I’m not here just to build the machine or boss around students. When the world (or robotics) is caving in on them, it’s my job to come in and brace the walls.

It saddens me beyond belief when students let something get to them, and then they crack (if only slightly). I feel like that speaks to me as a competitor, teammate, and a mentor.

  • Sunny G.

The most exciting thing has to be the dawning that what my team did, what I helped do- went 15-0 and won the Connecticut Regional.

The rush of realizing that we built an amazing robot that can compete with the big dogs. That’s when I knew that I really wanted to pursue engineering for a career.

The most annoying, frustrating thing is when students (and mentors for that matter) feel like it’s hopeless. When I was expressing my optimism to a friend that next year could be our year to finally make Einstein- being that we have the right group of students and knowledge, I had a 1st year mentor tell em that we couldn’t because we don’t have a big sponsor like NASA or Chrysler that we build with. He told me, that we couldn’t compete with them because of that.
That was the most frustrating thing, because with all the work we put in, with the kind of robot we built, he was telling me that we couldn’t possibly contend with the likes of 33 or 254.

I’m still hopeful, but I can’t lie, he really disappointed me.

The most exciting thing: Winning Regional Chairman’s at North Star Regional, after having put in so much time into the presentation, essays and other materials. It was a culmination of six full years of aiming for the award on the part of my team, and it was a joy to see all that finally pay off.

The most annoying thing: Watching my team erode away our robot’s effectiveness over the course of two regionals and Championships. The less I say about that the better.

Don’t worry Kevin, it just shows that we still have some inspiring to do!:rolleyes:

My most exciting experience in FIRST has to be taking the field with three of my best friends my senior year in 2011. Going out there with the drive and commitment we all had for the team was really fun. Despite having a less than competitive robot that year, we went out there and did our best with what we had. Had a few things gone a little differently, we may have found ourselves playing on Saturday afternoon at Champs. I’ve also never worked harder for second place in my life…learned a lot that year.

The most annoying thing I have experienced in FIRST is people being afraid to set goals or any lack of aspiration to be better. Any organization can benefit from setting its sights high and pushing to reach its goals.

The most exciting thing. This year had two both equally amazing…

Our first time competing in mainland competitions!

First mainland regional was at the Los Angeles Regional.
Winning the Engineering Inspiration Award.
This is our second EI win in a row.
Especially after having to completely rework our shooter to comply with the interpretation difference of a safe shooter wheel. Flew in from Hawaii overnight straight to the competition to find out that the shooter had to be encased. Spent the entire first day making it fit within our frame perimeter, getting no practice or fine tuning. Since most of us didn’t sleep on the flight and the 3 hours of time difference we where quite exhausted for the entire competition. The students stayed strong and never gave up. Made me proud.

Our second mainland regional was at the Inland Empire.

Winning our first Chairman’s Award. Big deal to us as a third year team! Amazing…
So many of our students worked so hard this year to achieve this. From graphics to outreach and everything in between, a truly next level achievement. I am still in awe.

The most annoying thing. This year again…

Traveling to the world competition with a new and improved floor pickup system and having the only tote that couldn’t be lost… LOST… Thanks American Airlines… :frowning:
Not only was our pickup system lost so was all our spare parts… Made the whole competition much more stressful than it already is… Sad thing is the student that fabricated it insisted on carrying it on the plane but wasn’t allowed by TSA. :mad:
Luckily we needed no spares, thanks to all the Newton teams that were there to support our efforts to fabricate some semblance of a pickup.

The tote is still MIA… Could be in LA, Dallas, St. Louis…
So if you see a tote that is now converted itself into a robot, tell it to phone home… :stuck_out_tongue:
Makes next years plan to build our first practice robot less of a reality.

Most exciting: going on the field and high-fiving judges when receiving our third GP award in a row at the Israeli regional this year. This award was my goal this year, not winning or getting chairman’s. This was my senior year, and I had to leave a mark. What would be more appropriate than imbedding the value most important to me, and most fitting to our team’s spirit and history, in our younger team members? Standing on the field and having the judges hand me he trophy was the most exciting thing that happened to me in FIRST, maybe in my entire life. It proved to me I was successful.
(note: in our regional only two representatives go to receive the award, not the entire team).

Most annoying: Being on one of the bottom three (6-8) alliances EVERY $@#$@#$@#$@# YEAR.

Most exciting: Seeding first in the First first ever MN state robotics competition, and then going to win the First first ever MN state robotics competition. Being the driver of the robot and balancing on the bridge for the last time because it was my Sr. year. Cutting down a net from the hoop was something I wanted to do but never thought our team would make it that far. No better way to leave First then that. Having a state medal is still hard to believe!

**Most Annoying: **Having only two years of robotics as a student. Not that I didn’t join the team the first two years of high school but because the team started my Jr. year. Wish I could have 4 years as a student but at least I came back to mentor this year and will continue to do so. Lastly that this years robot had macanum wheels and i cant drive it in a competition!

Most exciting: Winning Chairman’s for the third year in a row at the Washington DC Regional in 2011 as a freshman Chairman’s presenter.

Most annoying: Having very consistant robot design and performance. Consistantly over engineered.

Most exciting:
As a first year mentor taking in a second year team making the semi-finals in Newton as a 4th ranker.

Most Annoying:
Seeing any adult mentor/coach/team leader on any team or in any school pull down students. As a mentor if you are not in it for the teens then you shouldn’t be in it at all.

This sounds like a fun project! What are you going to do with all these awesome responses?

The most exciting part of FIRST for me is watching my team, and many other teams sustain throughout the years. Many teams have lost what they thought was everything (mentors, build sites, seniors), and they always seem to find a way through it.

The 24 hours between about 7PM on March 28 and 7PM on March 29, 2008.

Got engaged to my wife, won the Philadelphia Regional, won the Regional Chairman’s Award.

The most exciting thing : being on a bad cycled-team with about 3 kids out of 20 who aren’t rookies, on your rookie team, making it to rank 8, feeling proud as hell in the most awesome competition in the world. It’s the knowing that you won’t win the regional this time, but still making the best out of the best of times. :slight_smile:

The most annoying thing: having your autonomous mode not working due to some unknown network problem, which could’ve been solved very easily… And figuring out the solution a week after that regional…

Don’t lose hope! There’s always a possibility waiting to happen. We aren’t sponsored by GM or NASA or Chrysler and we made it to Einstein. Albeit it was a very shaky road there, we made it. But I can totally agree with you on the negativity thing being one of the most annoying aspects of a team.

After the third match in Einstein, while we were all crossing our fingers, there was this one kid down there who was just so defeated looking. The score was close, we knew it was close, but he had completely given up. We at least beat those “Chrysler” and “NASA” teams on our way to Einstein. That was one of the most satisfying competition seasons I’ve ever been apart of. And all this from a team that before this year, had never one even a district event.