Missed Build Days Due to Weather


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We’ve temporarily moved out of our school and into the garage of one of our student leaders. We’ve lost 3 days to snow so far and our schedule simply can’t flex another 3+ days missed.

So instead of meeting as a team a few students happened to borrow several thousand dollars of equipment right before the school announced that after school activities would be canceled, and all the core people happen to be meeting during our posted build hours, and a couple mentors might happen to show up.


FIRST is not a level playing field.

I think this is often overlooked. FIRST isn’t fair, and neither is the world. I feel like FIRST’s mission, in part is to alleviate inequality, not exacerbate it. When it does, I don’t think the community has the responsibility of fixing it, but should at least recognize it.

It’s been 10 years in the making to getting a team that could get to the point where we could do a second event. It has been a pipe dream for us that took a small miracle to realize. Thanks for the vote of confidence, I’m sure our kids will get things working, and will feel successful. They are very much looking forward to the experience and traveling with your team this year. At the same time we have weather illuminating some of the inequalities in the playing field, we have things like our 2nd event giving these kids an incredible experience that they would never have without FIRST. I’m not missing the forest for the trees on this one, I’ve just had the extra time off at home to stew on the matter this year.


My whole thing is what does it hurt to extend bag and tag day? What logistics does it change? We are not going to have a bag and tag day next year anyways.

I just want at least a press release on the reasons why? Unless I am missing something.

Its not fair to the teams that have a fixed schedule is the reasoning we got for 2019 having a bag day, so is that the justification for not extending? Then it just becomes an arbitrary battle of what is more fair, and then the argument of “FRC isn’t a level playing field” could be applied to both sides.


Why is it fair for you if i get an extra 3 days that you lost?
Why is it fair that teams in China an Australia lose their bot before bag even happens, and then just lose more time if bag day is extended?

I also agree with Tom’s viewpoint above:


I dont mind the first point here. It is also the only rational way to divy out an extended bag day rather than trying to justify local extensions. It will also lead to more competitive robots from all the teams which i dont mind either.

Your 2nd point gets at more of what I am asking. Is that the logistics driving not extending bag day? I guess I didn’t realize that was a thing.

As for Tom’s point deadlines are deadlines. As an engineer i’m not too sure how many deadlines I have seen actually be a deadline. Deadline creep is a much more common occurrence. I wonder how many companies had to call their customers and tell them their project got pushed out because of bad weather.


Deadline creep is real on a lot of projects … but I have also seen divisions get laid off because they were late to a market.


Was it fair when I worked at a company in a small town in New Zealand where there were no circuit board manufacturers in the country and we had to send all the work over-seas? Over 80% of our customers were over-seas so there was the extra 30-40 days for shipping and customs to factor in. We just dealt with it in our planning.

The “Strategic Design” videos by Karthik and Mike Corsetto both talk about building within your team’s capabilities. If the harsh reality is that you really typically lose some time between Kickoff and your competitions, then that should be taken into account when scoping your work.

Many of the core students on the team I mentor now are in other activities, often with travel so we also effectively lose a week or more each competition season. This year, I guided them towards some more modest goals that were more appropriate for the resources (time) available to them.

To the OP, it is very commendable that you have stuck with your team through thick and thin. Please consider reaching out to established teams near you who have more resources. Some of the powerhouse teams in my area have offered to help cut out parts on their CNC router for us. Others are hosting scrimmages and events to help ensure robots are legal. Teams I have been on in the past have had rookie teams working in their space for weeks so they have access to our parts, equipment, team members and mentors. Your team is a low resource team but you are not in this program alone.


One more reason why eliminating bag & tag will be great for next year. A team in this situation will actually be able to recover the lost time more easily. The bag prevents them from doing that this year.


You are, of course, assuming that next year teams will still plan to finish by the same point and all that new time is “extra” that can be used for making up missed days. I think the reality we’ll see is either (1) teams planning a longer, more relaxed build season, meaning they voluntarily miss time early in the season, or (2) teams attempting more with their builds. In either case, they will still be in a difficult spot to make up missed times. Especially for teams competing in week 1 events, this only adds 1 more week to build - and some of those teams count on that week for things like chairman’s and pit presenting prep!


I’m sorry if the post came off as glib, I just wanted to post an official FIRST source on their weather extension policy (or lack of one). The paragraph is copied verbatim from the blog post and is, admittedly, pretty snarky. Unfortunately, not only did they make this blog post in December, but they reiterated their policy in an email post on Jan 31.

Coming from a pretty wealthy area that is pretty much never affected by weather, it’s easy for me to thoughtlessly shrug off the problems that teams in worse situations are going through. I’ll make an effort to be more considerate of this going forward. I agree that FIRST’s policy here is not helping to level the playing field at all, and is unfairly pushing down teams that are already struggling to keep up. FIRST’s goals are rooted in “inspiration” and their weather policy is far from inspiring. Unfortunately, I don’t see it changing this year.

I wish you guys the best of luck getting everything done in time. Use your withholding allowance wisely in both of your events! If you’ve got parts made but not assembled yet, you can still bag those to be put together on practice day. It makes for a hard day, but it’s been done before.


I would argue, in general, that the teams that are presenting for the Chairmans Award and are preparing for talking to judges in the pits are not the teams that we should be worried about in regards to an extended build season.

I would also add a third option to your list of possibilities for how teams will respond to the end of bag and tag:

(3) Teams will continue to build at their bag and tag pace with a self imposed deadline where bag and tag currently stands (give or take a week depending on the date of their first event).

The teams that do the best in a post bag and tag world will follow option 3. I would like to believe that a lot of teams will do so… and I’m positive that at least some teams will.


My team is planning to do that, but I expect we’ll see many, many teams that don’t. I think the biggest question is going to be week-0 events. If they all still happen on the traditional week-0 weekend, then that’ll push teams to keeping the same schedule’s they’ve always had. But if they slip those out based on the local competition dates, there won’t be much of an incentive for teams to finish much earlier.


This just emailed to MN teams (along with some other info, but this is the relevant part):

Many of you have written or called Ken Rosen and myself about an extension to bag day. Ken had an extensive exchange with Frank Merrick emphasizing the build delays caused by the recent weather. Frank declined to change bag day explaining that each of the 3800 teams has some delay whether it is product shipments, exam schedules, or, simply, mechanism designs that need to be reworked.

That’s probably as much of an explanation for “why” as we’ll see. I can attest to all of those points impacting our schedule at some point over the past 13 years. We used to have finals right in the middle of build - that was basically a wasted week. They moved to December a couple of years ago, which has really helped. Our 3 missed days last week would have hurt more, but we had a blocking item waiting for a shipment - we could have still gotten some stuff done, but if we had those meetings we would have felt the impact of that shipping time.


I’m hesitant to think that teams will react so drastically one way or the other to the elimination of bag and tag… some teams have been following similar rules for 20+ years! I really don’t expect teams to drastically change their habits that they’ve developed over the life of their teams. I’m more concerned about young teams that haven’t developed those habits and rookie teams in particular.

I completely agree that week 0 should stay where it is, with hopefully more unofficial team gatherings following the initial week 0.


I know FIRST isn’t going to extend build day and I’m not really looking for them to, after all it is a global organization. But just to comment on the thread, my team has now lost 2 weeks of build due to the weather.


This is why I’m glad there is no stop build day next season. We missed like 5 days because of cold/snow. There is not much to do though in terms of adding extra days sadly since FIRST only has done it for a few seasons.


Mother nature just couldn’t hold off one more week. Shaping up to be another missed day for Upper Midwest teams next Tuesday.


Well sometimes you just need a sense of humor. One of our great sponsors has to work harder to compete with companies from overseas. In an email with them I compared it, a bit glibly I fear, it to our situation competing with teams from Florida and California…

We have a strict policy, no school (or afterschool activities) no build. We’ve been hit very hard but did decide before the season started that we’d be increasing our weekend build sessions where frankly a lot more gets done. We build at a non school site and have basically all our mentors from private industry where they have normal schedule jobs.

We expect to be running for Week Zero scrimmage albeit without much programming yet.

My opposition to elimination of Bag and Tag has shifted to neutral…

Chippewa Falls, WI


Two for weather and one day (today) for repairs done to the school building.