Need help introducing new lead mentor to FRC

Our school just hired a shop teacher who will become our new lead mentor in the fall. He has a mechanical engineering background but no experience with any of the FIRST programs. I’m struggling with how to introduce him and bring him up to speed on all aspects of FRC, from the administrative stuff to all of the technical subjects. I’d like to send him stuff like the various manuals, ask him to create a Chief Delphi account and start looking here, etc. but am afraid he will have trouble understanding it without any context or prior information. Does anyone have advice? I can only communicate with him by email for the next 3 weeks or so. Thanks in advance!

I’d start with your local Regional Director or FIRST Senior Mentor. They’ll be talking a fair bit over the year regardless, so make the introductions.

Will you be attending any off-season tournaments? I can’t think of a faster way to give someone brand new to FIRST the “…oh!” moment where they realize how this all works.

My team had to go through an extremely similar situation a couple years ago, so I can certainly PM you about how my team handled it, but I’m not real sure that we did a very good job of the transition. We managed to iron out the kinks, but it took a rather messy 2015 season to do it.

On the flip side, this thread was just started and looks to have that you’re looking for.

I haven’t read through all of it, but what I’ve seen looks good.

All you’ve said is a good start. No matter how much you read or speak, very few people **get **FRC until attending a competition. If at all possible, arrange for the team to participate in an off-season event after the new lead mentor arrives. Then explain that this is “just an off-season event”. That experience will probably be worth several weeks of anything else you can do.

Edit - ninja’d by Billfred.

I think this sounds like a great idea as we will be attending Capital City Classic and Chezy Champs. I’ll make sure to invite him!

I’m looking forward to meeting him at CCC! Let’s make sure to connect and I’m happy to answer any questions and “sell” the program from a Lead Mentor standpoint :slight_smile:

-Mike

Wikipedia has good articles on FIRST and its programs, with a list of games for each competition:

FIRST

FRC

FTC

FLL

FLL Jr.

As others have said, competitions are the best way to see how it works, especially off seasons. They’re usually fairly small and just one day, but still a lot of fun! Have him at least watch the game animation first, and maybe previous years’ animations for more info and entertainment. Reading at least some of the manual so he better understands the game and scoring can’t hurt, and having him talk to other teams probably isn’t a bad idea! :] I would definitely recommend Chief Delphi, even he’s not sure about some of the stuff, reading the threads and looking at the pictures will help him learn. :slight_smile:

Two suggestions

  1. Ask if he is willing to be the nominal lead mentor, but actually spend a year shadowing someone else on the team who can be his mentor during that year. Wise first lieutenants listen carefully to their sergeants.

  2. Introduce him to STEM robotics (FIRST and non-FIRST). Then describe how FRC in general, and your FRC team in particular, fits into the full big picture. Folks who learn things in the opposite order often have to spend way too much time unlearning upside-down misconceptions that can foul up a teacher’s effectiveness. That unlearning process is usually a big waste of time and energy. I know it was for me.

Blake

I don’t know of this is the best way to do it, but I definitely understand your intentions. IMO, you have to go through a whole season to truly understand FRC (and if you want to be involved in design you have to go through 2.) I think with a mentor, just making sure a supportive team culture exists where he is able to ask questions and making sure he has access to resources is more important than assigning him a specific mentor.

Thanks for the replies everyone!

As a little bit of a follow up, we’ve arranged a in person meeting with him next week. Besides what’s already been posted does anyone have or know of material he can read or just general advice for him? Thanks so much for posting everyone!

Other than the articles I posted above, probably not much more for a newcomer. He could watch videos of matches on YouTube to get a better idea of what FIRSTers do and how competitions are set up, etc. Also introduce him to the concept of Coopertition, and, more importantly, Gracious Professionalism. Some advice I’d give to anyone new to FRC(or FIRST in general):

-Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Any questions. About anything. Robots, games, competition, matches, field, tools and equipment, etc. They’re all good.

-Talk to other teams as much as humanly possible.

-Don’t forget to have fun at events. Collect buttons, dance, cheer, whatever. If there’s something you’d like to do, but your position(for lack of a better word) is assigned to you, or someone suggests you do something else, just ask. Who knows, maybe it can be worked out. :]

-Give your thoughts, opinions, and ideas. Just because you don’t know much about it doesn’t mean you don’t have good ideas; yours might be the next best.

-Have a new way of doing something? Suggest it, it may be better or lead to something else that’s better.

-If using Chief Delphi(which you should be!), post if you need help with or are confused about something. There are plenty of nice and helpful people here who would be glad to assist you.

-If something seems unsafe to you, don’t avoid calling it out because you may not know what you’re talking about. If it looks unsafe, it probably is.

That’s all I can think of for now, and remember, have fun and enjoy your time in FIRST!

Chiefdelphi.com :smiley:

In addition to what the others have said, there’s a decent document that was put together by myself and other alumni and members of 1257.

http://team1257.org/FRCPenultimateManual.pdf

The most updated version is avalible on GitHub as a Markdown file.

It aims to cover some of the less-apparent parts of FRC, like awards, coordination of events, strategy and some leadership (from a mentor’s perspective).

Best wishes and luck to you, and good luck to your new head mentor.

I would invite him to read Neal Bascomb’s The New Cool.

He should watch one of Karthik’s talks, mostly because everyone should watch one of Karthik’s talks. Simbotics also has a lot of other good resources on a variety of topics on their website.

FTFY

Fixed! Thanks!

I suggest showing him a complete BOM for a complete robot. The number of small parts is sobering. The big pieces are relatively easy. The small decisions and interfaces eat up time.