Made in America

One of the urgent reasons education needs to be involved with programs like First robotics is to raise the technology literacy of American students and help them thrive in technology careers in this globalized technology centric economy. Because of outsourcing, students face a real threat that they will graduate colleges and not find jobs . It is disappointing to see what percentage of components used on our robots are imported.

Should First create a new rule that technology used on robots needs to be “made in America”?

No, because FIRST is an international organization. There are teams based out of China, Turkey, Israel, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and many other nations, so it would be unfair to them to make such a requirement.

There are many teams from countries other than the United States. Restricting parts to be made in a country that not all teams are from seems silly.

FIRST (not First) should absolutely not create a rule like this.
Teams are welcome to create this rule for themselves if they want. There are many companies that advertise American made products (i.e. AndyMark Inc.).

But to have FIRST implement a rule like this would hurt the international appeal of the program. FIRST is no longer a national competition. It is international. I love our international teams! They bring a beautiful diverse culture to the competition scene.

A rule like that (as others have said) would be a huge letdown on all the non-American teams. Plus, not to sound anti-American or whatever, if a part I need is made better (or only) in another country, I would rather use it than not use it simply because it’s not made in my country.

My fiftieth of a dollar.

short answer is NO. The experience that students get from this program far out weighs the costs that would be required to make everything in the US. Also remember that FIRST is an international programs with students from many other countries including Canada, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, China and more.

I also think that it is more important to be designed here than built here, FIRST is all about getting students to enter science, technology, engineering and math careers and while I am sure there are a large number of FIRST students who enter skilled trades in mfg, the focus is on the design side. The fabrication which students get to do during the build season makes them better designers as you can’t design what you don’t know how to build.

All that being said there are suppliers in FIRST who make most of their products in the USA, if you feel strongly about this part make your voice heard with your team’s budget. On my team we buy the products that best fit our robot’s design and are of the highest quality regardless of the country of origin.

I don’t know where the CIMs are made, but the company that makes them, Chiaphua, is based in Hong Kong. Do you like your CIMs?

Anyway, it’s a global program and a global world.

I do believe the FIRST family of programs does do a good job of exposing students to the fact that globalization and localization does in fact exist. Teams are encouraged to utilize their local resources (harvesting motors from local junkyards, part fabrication from nearby sponsors) as well as source materials and parts from global suppliers (McMaster-Carr and the like). Teams are tasked with tracking these through the Bill of Materials.
So each team does have an opportunity to discuss the origin of the parts used on the robot, and each team has the opportunity to source parts locally.
I’d think that if a team did create an elegant, effective design using only locally sourced materials, and could present that fact effectively, judges could be very interested to hear about that.

Whippet has a strong point. If we make all parts in the US, the many hundred teams outside the US will have a disadvantage because everything needs to come from the US. That means there will be forced tariffs and those teams will have to pay more. FIRST is, as Whippet said, an international organization (i don’t get why they use USFIRST). It already takes a while for some teams to receive their kits. It would take even longer if they needed to wait for shipping from the US for basic parts. What if they broke a part that they didn’t have extras of, the week build season ends? They wouldn’t have enough time to order from US, but may be able to go to a hardware store.

Samsung is a company based out of Korea. They produce very powerful mobile processors that can be used onboard the robot to create a high-performance preprocessing system. Out of the US, I can only think of TI as the closest competitor to Samsung for high performance boards, capable of running Linux. Blocking Samsung would create a possible monopoly for TI and it’s very powerful A15 chips!

Also, it is important to note that a lot of parts come from China. It is not only cheap, but many parts get the job done successfully.

FIRST was not always an “international organization.” It took several years before there were any Canadian teams, and a few more before Brazillians joined the party. FIRST did not have an event outside of North America until the pilot Israel regional in 2005. The organization was originally called US FIRST, and had a more US-centric goal. It used the name “US FIRST” on its literature until at least 1997. There’s still a reason you will hear comments about the US’ ranking in the world at many FIRST events. While the mission of FIRST is international now, there is some validity in the history of the organization.

And FIRST is legally the “United States Foundation For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” But FIRST is more than just the US non-profit.

International teams total about 300-400. FIRST is showing 241 teams in Canada for the 2014 season, and Canada is by far the largest non-US country in FIRST.

As it is, Canadian teams ordering from suppliers other than VexPro’s Canadian office get dinged big time for shipping/import taxes, and long lead times. Other international teams from non-NAFTA member nations would additionally have to pay import duties on robot parts made in the USA.

Teams in Brazil and Australia often wait weeks into build season to even get their KOP.

FIRST uses the name USFIRST, because that’s the legal name of the organization. It is officially the “United States Foundation For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”.

Besides: I don’t know what you’re looking at. Most robot parts that aren’t motors come from American companies already. (Innovation First Inc. and AndyMark Inc.) I realize, though that these American companies may outsource production of their parts to Asia.

How about we make parts in America that are so amazing that everyone will want to buy them.

I’m going to stop you right here. This statement shows a remarkable lack of understanding about the basic principles of economics, specifically regarding international trade. Trading with other countries HAS NO EFFECT on the number of jobs in the US economy. The unemployment rate is controlled mostly* (not entirely) by macroeconomic policies set by Congress and the Federal Reserve.

Please, please, please do some research about economics before making extraordinary claims like this.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

-Carl Sagan

I can’t imagine outsourcing having absolutely no effect on the unemployment rate here. If I fire someone and outsource their work to a foreign entity, I’ve affected the number of unemployed people here. Internal purchases keep money in the US economy; outsourcing does not.

Caveat: Not an economics major. But neither is anyone else in this thread. :rolleyes:

You don’t know that…

To add to that with a little nuget of trivia, while FIRST has been using FIRST as it’s DBA name for a long time now, the legal name of the entity is still The United States Foundation For The Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. While it’s focus has obviously shifted from just the US to international outreach, due to the legal name once and a while you will still see US *FIRST * on things.

Keep it simple. The more rules and stipulations you put on robots, the less appealing FIRST becomes. 90% of the rules are for safety. The other 10% is for fairness and making sure the game is played correctly. If you and your team feel inclined to make sure all of the components of your robot originate in America, by all means, make it so. Other teams just don’t have the money or resources to make an ‘American’ robot.

Of course, the claim you’re replying to is even more extraordinary and shows an even deeper lack of understanding of economics. Like most things worth discussing, the economy is affected by a huge number of factors; politics and outsourcing are two of them. But that’s not the point…

The point is, this proposal is silly and there’s a reason USFIRST has distanced itself from the “US” part.