Not allowed to do anything on team

Hello I am a Freshman on an FRC team
And I am actually very experienced at metal work and design. Despite this I have been not allowed to do anything important on the robot. This build season I put in over 180 hours helping the team. However, I still am not being allowed to not do anything. And the team is already choosing who will get the advanced positions. Other freshman are getting the positions. So I am really angered by this and want to know if anyone has experienced this before.

I am looking for a solution. the only thing I have thought of so far is to leave and start my own team.

Well, have you talked to your mentors?
Have you explained your experience?
I don’t think starting your own team is an option. After you are in for a few years you will see why.
Talk to your mentors and upper class men.

However, I still am not being allowed to [not] do anything.

My Edit: However, I still am not being allowed to do anything.

Is my edit correct? I believe you said the exact opposite thing you intended to say.

When you were putting in 180 hours, what were you doing? I’m sure you were doing something, I’m not saying you were just screwing around, I’m just trying to figure out what you mean by “not doing anything” - is it that you were doing one job and wanted to be doing another?

We are obviously only going to be privy to one side of the story here, so it’s possible there are more reasons for what is going on than you may know now, so any advice we give you is going to be inherently limited by that.

Use this to learn an important life skill: Open and honest communication.

Talk to the mentors, talk to upper classmen.

Sometimes, just doing things doesn’t always demonstrate leadership potential.

Be sure to let the mentors know that you are striving for a leadership role. Ask them what you might be lacking in order to obtain one of those roles. They might not see what you have done with the team, or you may need to work on a few skills that you might not have thought of. Leadership involves more than just knowledge. The ability to properly deligate is an ability many people overlook, and it’s not a natural thing. They should be willing to help you build the skills you will need to be a great team leader. Just make sure you go to them with the attitude of improving yourself and not being offended. Sometimes they just want you to stand up and say "Here I am. I want to take responsibility. "

First I know you are not alone in that kind of circumstance. I know of plenty of students in the past that probably have felt that same way.
I agree with the other posts above that we can’t give you an exact solution without knowing some more of those details; however the best first step would be a combination of two things.

Finding a mentor on your team to pull aside and have a discussion with about everything you are feeling about this, the longer you wait to have that talk, well… its just that much longer til you look back and say to yourself wow… I wish I did this sooner. Mentors are there to help students develop in many ways, whether its learning how to use a drill, how to cad, write a grant, or giving them life advice. I have yet to go through a season without at least a handful of students asking various mentors about advice on choosing majors for college, help with school work, or even personal life advice. Point being: Mentors are there to help you, and if you ask one to take a little time to hear your concerns, most would go to pretty big lengths to help you get the most out of the program.

Second though is trying to self evaluate what you’ve been contributing in those hours (or attempting to since you say you haven’t been allowed to do anything) and try to see the situation from a different point of view. Often in high school there are the social cliques that definitely play a part in who gets leadership roles or more involvement in projects. However there are often many kids who show up on some teams that, although they are there for a lot of hours, tend to be more disruptive than helpful. So just make sure you aren’t the kid running through the halls throwing around game pieces like dodge balls, and rather are more so the student who shows up and asks “hey I don’t have anything to work on, what can I do to help?”. The latter tends to be the students who get the most out of FIRST and the mentors would rather give them more responsibility than the others.

Hopefully after a talk with a mentor or two on your team you’ll be on your way to much more involvement on your team, and we wish you the best of luck! :smiley:

I’m sure this is just reiterating what others have already told you but coming from an adult mentor, I’m sure your mentors are not overlooking you maliciously.

Myself and my fellow mentors have had to make difficult decisions over which students get to do what (drive, travel, etc.) but if a student ever has a question about why or why not, we always sit down and discuss it with them.

You should go to your mentors and talk to them. Talk to your fellow team members too.

First off this, 1000x this. I’m not sure the dynamic of your team, but I do know how a lot of different teams run.

As something that may be similar to what you’ve experienced, here’s something I found out just this year.
I work as the CAD Mentor for my team, I want to help kids learn Solidworks to be used in an FRC sense. I started the season with not a single kid knowing how to draw. I tried my best to find out who was interested in learning solidworks and I found only a couple kids. Then, seemingly out of no where I find two kids who are very proficient in Solidworks. Where have they been?! Well, it turns out they had mentioned, once, maybe twice, that they were proficient in CAD a few months ago. Since no one sought them out, they weren’t going to CAD.

These kids were on the quieter side, as a lot of robotics team member are. Even though they had a lot of experience, they didn’t make it well known to everyone that they were interested/good at it.

As my advice to you, even if you have told people a few times, keep bugging the mentor/student leader that is in the field you want. Make sure they KNOW that you are good in design and that you are good with metal. Prove it to them. Show them projects you’ve done, draw out your designs. Make it impossible for them to not notice your talents.

I tell you this from experience as well. When I was a freshman I was ready to quit. I went through FTC without my voice being heard, and I wasn’t going to deal with 4 more years of it. I stayed on the team and I made sure every build mentor knew what I was good at and what I wanted to do. I was the build captains, shadow for my entire sophomore year. I made it impossible for people not to know that I was interested. My junior year I was build captain, design lead, and driver.

Don’t give up. You don’t have to quit. Prove to them and yourself.

Hope this helps.

This sounds like a sticky subject. Let me know if you have heard this before, but most mentors are trying to do the best for their students and their team. If you are feeling like you are being passed over there is probably a reason for it. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out why, and how to improve. FIRST is largely about personal growth and taking the initiative to improve your standing in the team is a big part of that.

Mentors are human; what some students feel are unfair treatment is really just a side effect of build season pressure. It takes extra work to reach out to students who are quiet; on some tasks the mentors don’t have time to walk a new student through it. A bias typically shows towards students who participate more aggressively during the early part of the season. It happens, but you have the power to fix that.

My advice to you is talk to a mentor about what is bothering you. Explain your hopes and your concerns, but leave your ego at the door. The average mentor has your best interests in mind, but if you become accusatory or put down other students most mentors will find it harder to listen to you. In all likelihood they will have some useful advice for you.

I think you will find that if you work at this faithfully your situation will improve dramatically. It may not be as fast as you like, but you have three more years after this one. I’ve found that patience and perseverance are the cornerstones of overwhelming success.

I was the same. I got my parents to talk to the lead mentor, which helped a lot.

Also, I made an active effort to help. I asked if there was anything to do, if a gearbox needed greasing, part needed deburring, etc. the others will eventually ask you for help instead of the ther way around. Ask about tools, show that you want to learn.

Even if you know these things, it still is needed to prove yourself. Being a freshman is hard.

I have told multiple mentors. And the student leadership of my team is so corrupt. The only people who get leadership roles are the friends of the current leaders.

Why would making my own team with a bunch of other kids who feel the same way not be an option

Teams are expensive and a lot of work to keep running. I’d try to rectify the current situation before trying to go out and make a new team.

What team is this?

I have tried to rectify the current situation by going to the lead mentor and telling the other kids what is going on and this has lead me to being bullied at school by the kids on the team.

Is there any other ideas people have

If you feel like you can’t talk to one of the mentors directly then this is an option. Just ask your parent(s) to keep in mind that most mentors are volunteering their time and to be respectful. I would suggest talking to the mentors directly first if you feel that you can.

Also, if your team has guidelines or a handbook then it is a good idea to read it and have your parents read it as well.

I say this because just yesterday we had to inform a student that they were not eligible to attend a competition with us because they had not fulfilled their requirements. This lead to a long phone call with an understandably frustrated parent. I was able to talk with the parent about our policies and our handbook, which they hadn’t seen, and this made a huge difference and helped to put the parent at ease and the student as well. I’m optimistic that the student will stick around next year and now has a better grasp of time management as well as expectations and communication.

Talk to your mentors. Mentors are people too and some of us are pretty ok.

Because it is an incredible amount of work. I speak as someone who has just done it - 2706 is a new community team spearheaded by four founding mentors including myself, and we recruited about a dozen other awesome mentors, and it is STILL an overwhelming amount of work for all of us.

I would invite you to ask an honest question. When you say “I am not allowed to do anything”, are you really saying “I am not allowed to do the things I want to do” or “I am not allowed to do the things I perceive as important”? Are you perhaps being asked to do other things, things which you are dismissing as unimportant or uninteresting?

The best thing to do is talk openly and honestly with your team leadership. I know there have been times when students and mentors are in the same room and the students are thinking “I’m bored, I have nothing to do” and the mentors are thinking “how are we going to get all this done? I wish the students would step up more!” Talk to each other!

Bullying at any school is not acceptable. I strongly urge you to bring your concerns up to either a school counselor, or a principal. Someone with authority to rectify the situation needs to be involved at this point.

I agree with the above - especially about the key points of escalating the bullying issue to higher authority and working with leaders to find out why you are not advancing/what you can do.

Based on OP, I’m guessing that you may have facilities outside of the team lifelines to support your experience in design and metalwork. If so, you may be able to use this to your advantage. Next design cycle (whether off-season or next build season), quietly take a design or prototype task for “homework”. Pitch the idea/design as an example/prototype. Doing it this way, leaders will see that you have the ability to do these design or construction projects, even if they do not use your design. If you blow your horn but don’t get too braggy about it, a team lead or two will probably request your help with something soon.

Should you find yourself a team leader in a year or two, give back. Make special efforts to learn people’s abilities and utilize them to the benefit of your team and its members.

Thanks everyone for trying to help me. I have already talked with the lead mentor and he sent me to go to the student lead because the mentors on my team are way to laid back. The student leader is horrible and only is the leader because she is head of the social group and has a bunch of friends. In the offseason before the start of build I built and programmed a swerve drive chassis by myself. And it still didn’t effect what they thought of me. When I show up I do work very hard at trying to get jobs however I get assigned pointless jobs like 3D printing alliance gifts.