Sorry about the bleak title but its the only way I can truly put my feelings down on paper. I am the team captain of Team 2854. My team has been around since 2009 but every 2-3 years we go through a full on knowledge reset due to seniors graduating. In effect, we are more comparable to a sophomore or rookie year team than a veteran team. I have tried to change things. I keep documents and even convinced a senior who is going to college nearby to come back as a mentor next year. I wish that was the only problem my team had. Our largest issue has got to be our lead mentor. We are connected firmly to our school and he is the teacher “advisor” to our school’s robotics club (aka our team.) He hates FRC and it seems as if for the past few years he has been trying to undercut FRC. He makes his requirements for remaining a mentor harder and harder every single year to the point where it is feeling nearly unattainable (find 5 new mentors, got to at least 2 offseason competitions, make him work less, etc…) During the build season, we had spent weeks prototyping and building a gear intake system and one day during week 5 he decided our system was “utter garbage” and built a new one that we could barely test. He wasn’t present for all of week 6 and during the competition he would only come to our pit to yell at us or to give us random work. I even overheard him regarding our robot as “trash” to a fellow mentor as we were entering queuing. I can’t say that didn’t hurt and didn’t make me want to either do something I would regret or leave and never come back. I was asking numerous people why they quit robotics and the answer was always the same. Our mentor. We have tried desperately to find a new mentor and we have gotten a few rays of hope. An amazing, experienced, and kind mentor comes in often to try and help us but he isn’t able to come often enough to counterbalance our lead mentor. We need our lead mentor because he is the only place where we can work (our school offers us no funding, place to work other than our lead mentors classroom or help to try to mitigate our problems.)
A few years ago, we started a couple of FTC teams in order to retain and train freshman better. That has worked really well for us, but unfortunately, a certain FTC team (who happens to be an all girls team) has been driving a wedge between themselves and the rest of the club. In our recent officer elections, the elections boiled down to an us vs. them mentality and when “we” won, allegations of cheating, sexism, and hatred erupted. Talk of secession was rumored and the club is barely holding together.
I love robotics. I love building robots. I love teaching my fellow students about robotics. But when I am feeling so overwhelmed by all the honest bs that’s going on, I understand why FRC has a grand total of 3 freshman this year out of nearly a hundred who wanted to join. I just wish it wasn’t the case. Sorry for the wall of text.