PANEL: Decision Making & Compromise During a Design Process

Hi Everyone,
I wanted to announce a panel discussion that I’m facilitating in Atlanta as part of the 2010 FIRST Robotics Conferences.

The Panel Discussion is titled Decision Making and Compromise During a Design Process.

It will be held on Wednesday April 14th from **7:15PM until 8:45PM.


Decision Making during a design process can be difficult. How does a team make decisions? How does a team come to consensus? How do mentors and students interact to make decisions as peers? How does one productively argue without being overwhelmed by feelings? How does one put ego aside and compromise? What should a team do when some of their members refuse to compromise? How can mentors help students feel welcome in design discussions? How can students learn to argue like and hold their ground against professional engineers? These questions and many others will be discussed by a group of prominent mentors (all WFA or WFFA winners) who will share their perspectives and relate their own experiences on the topic of decision-making.
We have quite the all-star group of participants sitting in on the round-table discussion:
John Novak - FRC16
Andy Baker - FRC45
Ken Patton - FRC51
Paul Copioli - FRC217 + FRC148
Dan Larochelle - FRC40
Raul Olivera - FRC111
Lucien Junkin - FRC118
Chris Fultz - FRC234
Karthik Kanagasabapathy - FRC1114

I’m sure the discussion will be exciting. This is a topic not often talked about in FIRST but one we all deal with each season. I know I’m excited to hear the opinions of each of these incredible mentors.

Hopefully I’ll see some of you on Wednesday night in Atlanta!


I’ll probably make it just in time like I did last year, but just in case, will the conferences all be recorded?

Awesome stuff, I look forward to learning even more from you all. Thanks for continuing to do this.

Heh. Just fresh in my mind is the toughest season I’ve had; while I feel my decisions were logical and quantitative, it’s been a very long and tiring process in defending them. All in all, we’ve had the best robot we’ve ever had (and subsequently, the least-awarded, heh) yet I still feel this season is best. I will be there, if only with the hope to figure out how to make future seasons easier.

Additional question – will this apply mainly to competition robots, or also to general real-world scenarios where there are engineers in the room with more experience and knowledge than a lower level engineer can even fathom?

I don’t know how I missed this last year! I cannot wait to attend and hope that the advice given will benefit many build seasons to come.

This would be a very beneficial event for me or anyone on my team or any team to listen in on. Thanks for setting this up!

I can’t come but looking forward to seeing the video of the presentation.

Who do I send my $10 to for the FIRST poster with all ten autographs? That’s what I really want, talk about keepsakes! If you run out of posters, I’ll take a hat.


I’m definitely going to try to make this one. Decision making seems to be our weakest point during the crucial periods of build, hopefully It doesn’t have to be this way much longer.

Yes, please someone record or video tape this. Many people who could benefit from this will not be able to make it down to Championships this year. (Me being one of them)

You really ought to have two members from each team. Y’know, just to watch the theory in action…

I’ll have my zi8 and microphone set up… of course i’ll need permission from the panel and FIRST to share the video

I had considered going to the Hawks/Cavs game across the street if there wasn’t anything good at the conference Wednesday night.

Josh Smith and LeBron James can wait for an hour.

I think they are going to need a talking stick.

Just a friendly reminder that the deadline to purchase passes to this and the other great FIRST Robotics Conference sessions is this Friday!!

Visit and click on the FIRST Robotics Conference Registration System link!

You can also access the schedule that page, and see more of the great topics and presenters signed up to share their expertise and knowledge with you!

I just found out we will have a special “surprise guest” joining the panel.

This is an EXTREMELY exciting development for me. I know some people will be working on their robots Wednesday night, but if you’re free you should definitely come check out this seminar.

Trust me, this is going to be very cool.


The past two years the conference has been recorded and posted online. The presentations from 2009 are at Previous years are linked at

Hopefully this practice will continue on another year. But surely nothing can beat attending these always informative lectures and discussions in person.

I’m really looking forward to this one, John.

According to the web site, you can purchase tickets at the door as well. I would pre-purchase, but we are arriving on the bus that day and I want to make sure we get there in time…

Do spaces run out for the conferences?

I am really hoping it is Car Nack. So far the 30 point prediction and the 8 point hang have held true.

gonna miss a heck of a panel… i dont get in till 11… will catch up with you guys hopefully later and am hoping for a recording!!

Is there a recording posted?

I didn’t get a time to ask, hopefully some of the panelists will see this and answer it.

What is the percentage of the team that do the CAD work?

Whats the average week that your team gets all the CAD work done?