organized way of communication with FIRST?

Posted by Ken Leung at 05/25/2001 6:32 AM EST

College Student on team #192, Gunn Robotics Team, from Henry M. Gunn Senior High School.

In responds to “Why letting FIRST know your opinions is a good idea”

As Patrick and many people suggested, letting FIRST know your opinion is a good idea, so I am not going to talk more about why it¡¦s a great idea. What I am interested in is how can we help FIRST on our side of this process of communication to improve the competition in the coming years.

From time to time I¡¦ve heard/seen different methods of communication, individual ones such as E-mails, phone call, direct conversations¡K and group ones such as petitions, the poll in this forum, and the team forum over the summer. These methods all have their own advantages, but I am concern that the number of voices will render them to a horde of nonproductive comments/opinion that will take forever to sort out into senses.

The methods representing a group¡¦s comment and ideas seem to be the way to go. After all, we don¡¦t want to flood FIRST with e-mails and phone calls. The idea of a group comment is that teams will talk together about specific ideas such as suggestion of improvement or useful recommendations before they contact FIRST. With the correct process, teams be able to sort out their ideas among themselves, and hopefully figure out some of the better solutions.

A little experience I have with asking FIRST for changes was back at this year¡¦s regional competitions when a group of us (various members from several teams is what we called ourselves) felt strongly that FIRST should have 4 alliance of each division going into the finals, just like a regional competition. We talked about asking FIRST for this change in a chat room, and suggestions such as mass e-mails or petitions came up, but we felt that those aren¡¦t ideal. So, we finally decided to ask Dr. Joe J. for help, and here is the advice he gave us:

¡§I think this (more teams into finals) is a case best made in person. At your regionals, I would try to make to the case to the FIRST folks you run into¡K
In my experience FIRST folks are reasonable people. If we make a good case, I think there is a good chance that they well change. There is possibly a very good reason against doing this (more teams into final)
that we don’t know or understand. If so, then so be it. We will have made our best case.¡¨

And I totally agree. Some how we have to make a ¡§good case¡¨ so that FIRST will listen. To me, a good case means something that a lot of teams agree on, while it actually make sense to apply the changes. I believe this is the same reason FIRST set up the team forum over summer, to hear suggestions from a lot of teams to get the feeling of how strong the teams want the changes. However, I can see some problem with the forum as not everyone¡¦s opinion are the same. Plus, not every team is going to the forum, causing some group¡¦s opinions not reaching to FIRST.

So, I am wondering if anyone have suggestions as to how we as a group can discuss the opinions among ourselves, have some what of an agreement over some issues, and make a ¡§good case¡¨ to FIRST. Are there some ways that teams can bring suggestions that most people agreed on already- to the team forum so that the suggestion can be heard without many arguments? I guess my main question is, how can we organize ourselves so that opinions from all over the country can be taken seriously into consideration without having to debate in front of FIRST?