New FIRST competition structure in Michigan

You have a smart daughter! My son attends Kettering and the atomosphere their is incredible for the kids. One of the biggest selling points is they have a dorm room to themselves or if they like they can open the doors between rooms for a suite.

Check out the Fuel Cell Development Program, The Wind Tunnel and The Crash Test Lab. It is a small but amazing school.

Have fun!!! :smiley:

Greg, you’re right. High school gymnasiums is where FIRST started its competition structure. We didn’t start out ‘bright and shiny’, but look where we are now. Maybe this step in a different direction is exactly what’s needed to scale FRC the right way.

As my mom’s always told me, 'you can’t knock it 'til you try it.'
I’m going to see how this season goes before I start forming my opinon.

I wonder if the cost structure will backfire now that they must pay to attend a State championship AND the world Championship? Will schools allow their students to miss so much school? Can mentors and volunteers do that much more competitions just to get to Championship?
Since teams can pay their way to championship, wouldn’t the ones that wanted to go in the past, just do so anyway?

Well, to me this is a sad thing to see. No more MI regional open to IN teams. This pretty much leaves WI, MN, CHI, and Cleveland relatively close, and St. Louis not too far. IMHO the GLR was the best regional this past year in the midwest and its sad to see it not be open to all again.

Just my $0.02

To comment on finances:

Many of the details of the financing of this project are not open for public discussion but I can tell you this:

A: The rest of FRC is NOT subsidising Michigan. The money we have from our sponsors and our teams will easily fund all of the Michigan Events in 2009.

B: Our events will be professional and plenty of resources are guaranteed to ensure this. The only major change is that Michigan now has the ability to do our own sourcing for venues and production support instead of having FIRST do all this.

C: Why would depending upon donations for venues and support make FRC less sustainable? Today, we must recruit major sponsors to pay for the high cost venues we are renting. This amounts to the same thing, i.e. someone needs to give us something. Now we are just asking for less cash per event. This is much MORE sustainable.

D: Most of the comments on this thread and CD in general come from generally successful teams. You represent a strong vocal minority. Many people love to travel and meet teams from other areas, etc. This is great, However, the fact remains that MOST teams only can afford a single FRC event per season, and MOST teams never leave their home region. This change will have a major impact on such teams and they are the majority. In the future, travel will still be possible, but choices will be limited. Today, FIRST already limits your choices when they schedule the events (If Denver and Phoenix are the same weekend, you can’t do both!). 10 years ago, we used to get teams from the East and West coasts coming to Michigan. This almost never happens anymore. Why not? Cause it’s cheaper to stay home and now there are more events closer to everyone’s home. Essentially, creating more events means teams will less travel.

I will be interested in the lessons learned from the Michigan structure re: volunteers for events. I’ve helped with events in Maryland the past 5 years (FRC/FLL/Vex/the off-season) and have been fortunate to work with !hundreds! of event volunteers. The recruitment, placement, training, and recognition are a lot of work, and I am always looking for ways to make this better for all.

Is it true, then, that team fees from Michigan teams in 2009 will go directly toward paying for Michigan events? If true, does that diverge from what I understand is the “norm” (and correct me if I am wrong) - that FRC team event fees do not directly support regionals, that instead they are used to pay for FIRST HQ “overhead”?

And if it is true that next year, Michigan team fees will be diverted toward the funding of Michigan team events, and given that there are well over a hundred Michigan FRC teams, would that not reduce by quite a bit the amount of money flowing to FIRST from Michigan to fund FIRST’s “overhead”?

If all that I have asked to this point is true, then the last question I have is, will other FRC teams be asked/required to make up the difference via increased event fees, or will FIRST absorb this loss of “overhead” income such that other FRC teams aren’t affected financially?

Just the facts, man. I’m just looking for the facts. If any or all of what I ask above is not the case, I gladly ask that someone who has definitive knowledge of the reality of this new system please communicate it to those of us who are not yet enlightened.


“Michigan is not being funded by the rest of the FIRST communitee.”

Cash from Registration Fees will still go back to New Hampshire.
Fee structure for the State Championship is just like any other regional.

All that’s really been done is figure out a way to turn 2 events into 7 for the same price.

Jim, I think what follows might be the math that people might be looking at, and why we might think that FIRST is going to get less revenue from Michigan teams. Maybe there is something I am missing, if so please feel free to correct it:

Scenario A (a “national” team):
2008: 2 Regionals plus Championship
2009: 2 districts plus State plus Championship

2008 Team Cost: 6000 + 4000 + 5000 = 15000
2009 Team Cost: 4000+1000 + 4000 + 5000 = 14000 (team saves $1k)

2008 $ to FIRST: 6000 + 4000 + 5000 = 15000
2009 $ to FIRST: 4000 + 4000 + 5000 = 13000 (FIRST loses $2k)

2008 $ to Michigan: 0
2008 $ to Michigan: 1000 (Michigan gains $1k)

Scenario B (a “state” team):
2008: 2 Regionals
2009: 2 districts plus State

2008 Team Cost: 6000 + 4000 = 10000
2009 Team Cost: 4000+1000 + 4000 = 9000 (team saves $1k)

2008 $ to FIRST: 6000 + 4000 = 10000
2009 $ to FIRST: 4000 + 4000 = 8000 (FIRST loses $2k)

2008 $ to Michigan: 0
2008 $ to Michigan: 1000 (Michigan gains $1k)

Scenario C (a “local” team):
2008: 1 Regional
2009: 2 districts

2008 Team Cost: 6000
2009 Team Cost: 4000+1000 = 5000 (team saves $1k)

2008 $ to FIRST: 6000
2009 $ to FIRST: 4000 (FIRST loses $2k)

2008 $ to Michigan: 0
2008 $ to Michigan: 1000 (Michigan gains $1k)

Ken when you did these was KOP taking into consideration for 2008 money? I only say this because it is money you pay to first.

Yes, this is simply taking the numbers that were quoted in the Michigan tournament proposal and calculating what some example teams would pay. It includes the payment for KOP for both '08 and '09.


First, I think that the announcement should have been made much earlier, like last year, or the changes should be put off until 2010. Plans have been made. Grants have been written. We are going to have to scramble to accommodate the changes.

Second, although FIRST is knocking $1,000 off of the registration fees, this could end up costing our team a bit more than the traditional system. Our team is struggling financially. We will not be able to pay the fee to attend the State Championship which will be in our own back yard, but we will (apparently) have to travel to two other cities for district competitions.
[li]No one on our team owns a vehicle that can carry a crated robot, so we are going to incur expense to either ship it or rent something to carry it or pay someone to drive it. [/li][li]We will have to pay for a school bus to transport the team to and from events or parents will have to drive. (our school system does not give us free use of buses) The bus ride to Kettering Kick-off in 2007 cost us over $400 for one day.[/li][li] We definitely can’t afford to stay overnight in whatever city it is, so we will have to drive back at night and return in the morning.[/li][/LIST]
Two weekends of this will more than eat up the $1000 break in the entry fee.

I think the idea of smaller localized competitions has merit, but needs more work.

The idea of a team in every school is great too, if there are resources: There are now three FRC teams in Ypsilanti. I can’t speak for the other two, but my team (on the eve of it’s 10th season) is in totally desperate need of mentors and money. We have not had a major corporate sponsor since 2004 (not for lack of trying) and are only surviving by our own fundraising efforts and the kindness of ITT Tech and more recently Hyundai America, and mentoring by talented parents of former members. As others have said, it would be good if FIRST could help to strengthen the teams that exist.

Although I do agree with your statements about how this system may hurt some teams, and not to be rude, but have you actually asked the other teams in your area for help is attaining sponsors? I know for a fact that The Flyers (66) are in your area and that they are one of the kindest teams around. Give them a call if you haven’t already and just ask. Take a stretch and even give a call to some other Michigan teams. They will help.

Take a look at all these teams…just hit ctrl F and search “MI”

And please, let us know if you need help. Its what we’re all here for. Do not take that quality of FIRST for granted.

I’d like to say, I entirely agree with you, and thank you for posting your thoughts so eloquently (as you certainly can state it better than I can).

As much as it’d be nice to have a FRC team in every highschool, I don’t see it ever happening. According to google (I’m getting several different figures) there are 15,000-20,000 High Schools in America. I’d love to see the day where we have that many FIRST teams in the us alone, along with the district/state/world champion structure. But I just can’t imagine the economy supporting that many teams.

Growth and sustainablity is all about controlling costs and increasing ROI. If you had asked someone back in 1992 if FIRST could expand into a league of 1600 teams by 2009, Most people would have said this would be impossible. However one person, Dean Kamen, would have insisted that it could be done. Through his vision, FIRST now has a foothold in about 10% of our schools. This is quite an achievement and we can do more. If you want to give up on this vision, fine, but many of us believe that it can be done. This pilot is simply a logic next step in the process.

Ken, All I can say on the numbers is “We’re not going to discuss the details of the finances on ChiefDelphi.” This deal was worked out over several months of negotiation between the Board of Directors of FIRST and the new Board of Directors of FIRSTinMichigan. Everyone involved is satisfied with the final deal. No one will be penalized by this initiative and no money from elsewhere will be used to fund any of the Michigan events or teams.

We have good relationships with several other Michigan teams including The Flyers. We host many of the teams at the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival FIRST Demo every summer. Funding and the need for professional mentors are frequent topics of discussion whenever we are together, and no one from any team has ever given me the impression that they had either mentors or sponsors to spare. Team 470 has “loaned” mentors to another team to help them over a “hump” once, but not on a permanent basis. All the teams help each other as they can.

It would make sense for the Ypsilanti teams to combine transportation to wherever the district competitions are this year. That would reduce the cost to each team, and I’m certainly going to suggest it. Knowing where the district competitions will be and if we have a choice or will be assigned to certain ones would be very helpful. I hope the information is released soon.


People will do the rough math - it does not matter what the details of the arrangement are, one can calculate what the range of revenues going to the different groups and get a similar conclusion each time. Its probably not realistic to expect that FRC people wont want to do a little math.

In the end this is an experiment that, regardless of outcome, will hopefully benefit all the teams, not just the Michigan teams. So people who don’t agree with where/how the money is going may be willing to tolerate it.

It would have been great to have this discussion over the last several months. However, that did not happen and we are now in the situation where a “done deal” is presented to us. However, as you can read, its not quite “done,” there are many details that need to be worked out, and the clock has been ticking. This communication medium and the people who live here are going to be a powerful force in making this successful. Its time to identify the issues, and ask for their ideas, participation, and help.


P.S. I use the word “live” figuratively - I KNOW people really don’t live here, they are just visiting. From home. Where they live. Anyway, we need their ideas. :slight_smile:

The only difference here is that the Great Lakes, West Michigan and Detroit regionals were all open for attendance by anyone not just Michigan teams. This is my opinon and not that of my entire team not fair at all. I realize that life is not fair however if my team enters an event we have a 1 in something like 5 chance in advancing to the championships this is far less then the opportunity for Michigan Teams. I also believe that if a Michigan Team pays $5,000 for the kit and two events, then a Non-Michigan team should pay $no more than $5,000 for the kit and one event, possibly less. I am still forming my opinion on this whole matter. However I do congratulate the Michigan teams for pulling off such a great accomplishment and truly changing the face of FIRST as we know it.

As a past but not current mentor, I find this pilot very unfair. To everyone, teams in and out of Michigan.

No one can really debate that Michigan teams will have an incredible competitive advantage anytime they play at events outside of Michigan against the other 95% of all FIRST teams. If I am reading this thread right (lots of information, forigve me if I am off here), then

  1. Michigan teams will be able to play 2 or 3 different weekends/events for $4 or $5 thousand dollars less than all other teams
  2. Michigan teams will have more time to work on their robots because they will not have to ship them (at least on my old team, we could not really work on the ship day as we had to get everything crated and ready for Fedex to show up at any time).
  3. Michigan teams get to keep their robots between events, on an honor system

I do not get # 3 - why is this needed for the pilot? There seem to be events on back to back weekends all over the country? If Michigan teams can pilot a keep your robot \\\“honor\\\” system, then why cant all teams. Are the rest of the teams not trustworthy enough?

1 bothers me the most. Why do Michigan teams need to get any discount? The gives them an extra $5,000 to enter another event, to build a practice robot, to buy a second control system, and so on - how does this lead to anything even close to an even playing field if they get to play against teams at other events and the championship who do not get those advantages?

Hasn’t it been pointed out that registration fees don’t even go to pay for the cost of local events? If so, then 95% of the teams are paying more this year to subsidize a discount for kits and events for 5% of the teams. How is this a good or fair thing?

Last, as I said, this is unfair to all teams, including Michigan teams. They are not asking for this advantage or different playing field, but they will not get full credit for anything they accomplish outside of Michigan because everyone will wonder if they would have done as well without the huge advantages. I do not get this at all - arent there lots of off season events around the country that do this sort of pilot every year? Why not do it in other states - why should only Michigan teams get to save THOUSANDS of dollars, not have to ship robots and get a competitive advantage? I know how hard all teams, students and mentors work to get to fundraise and get to events and I do not get why FIRST would put such an unfair and unbalanced pilot into the regular season. Either test it for everyone or do it in the off season.

Mary, everything you bring up has been gone over already.

I agree on the discount. However, it is only a $1000 discount from last year, and we don’t know that all teams don’t get it. They pay more if they make their state event.

Michigan teams have to put their robots in a bag and have a third party seal it. The bag can then only be unsealed at an event or during a single 8-hour window the week before a particular event.

Please read the thread and the attachments/links. FIRST has thought of most things and weighed risks and benefits by now. If there is an issue that isn’t addressed here, in one of the attachments, or in one of the other threads, then it should probably be taken up with FIRST or FIRSTinMichigan.