Non-FIRST Veterans Running a RI3D/RI30H Team: Is It Worth It?

Ever since my junior year of high school sometime in 2012, I have been very much a fan with the FIRST Robotics organization and its vision. I try to attend FIRST events every year to cheer teams on and interact with them in the pits. I even donated money to a couple of FRC Teams.

I also like the fact that many FIRST Alumni have formed Robot in 3 Days teams for FRC or Robot in 30 Hours teams for FTC as a way to continue to be involved in the program. Not only are they challenging themselves within a strict timeline, but at the same time they are sharing their expertise to other FRC or FTC teams and having fun.

I hope that one day in the future, I will be able to form my own RI3D or RI30H team. But there is a dilemma: I NEVER had been a member of any FIRST Robotics team during my youth, but I do believe that there is a way for me to serve in some capacity.

If I were to form a team, I would find a person who has many years of experience on an FRC or FTC team as a project manager, such as a lead mentor. I would basically be an administrative person doing other miscellaneous work with the project manager such as conducting meetings before the event, finding a venue, getting sponsors, managing social media pages, buying lunch and dinner for the team, acquiring tools and materials, and planning team-building exercises, such as a Jackbox game night or a fun activity that helps build a bond with other teammates. The project manager and I would find recruits who have FIRST Robotics experience and we would scout for passionate and hardworking individuals who are willing to meet the challenge of building a legal robot within three days for RI3D or 30 hours for RI30H. I would read the game manuals with the team and try to interact and help the members to the best of my ability.

It is very unfortunate for me to not take part of what FIRST Robotics has to offer when I was young, but managing and taking part in an RI3D or and RI30H team could take back years of a wasted opportunity that I was offered as a child. But here’s a good thing: Watching RI3D tutorials really helped reignite my interest in programming. I hope that one day I would be able to write operable code that I would be able to apply my new skills by becoming a programming mentor on an FTC or an FRC team someday.

I know there is a post I read on CD called So You Want to Start a RI3D Team… and it had great advice for Alumni who want to start new RI3D teams, however it did not address whether or not non-alumni should manage a team. Should they create a team or not? Any suggestions or words of encouragement? I would like to know your opinion.

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If you think you can get a team together and you think you can run a productive team, I don’t see why not. Whether you’re an alumnus of an FRC team isn’t as important as if you can make a positive contribution to the community through Ri3D.

However… Is there anything stopping you from mentoring an FRC team right now? That’s going to be a better use of your time next year than building a robot for a game everyone already has a robot for.

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We’re looking to run some Ri30H sessions for FTC this year. We will likely have a very limited in person building time due to COVID. We’ll focus on the Innovation Challenge but since our qualifiers run through April maybe we can use Ri30H to get something built. Anyone used it before for teams made mostly of rookies?

You’ve got a solid vision for your role in a Ri3D / Ri30H team. Here at The Ohio State University, we don’t limit our alumni group membership to FIRST alum. You’ll find multiple people without any prior FIRST experience take on large roles within the Ri3D team – and these individuals get to choose their commitment level.

If the college you plan on attending does not have a FIRST Alumni group, there’s no stopping you from creating one. There is almost certainly a FIRST alum in any college you go to. You’d probably be able to find some by volunteering at local events and/or making connections with local teams in the area.

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