pic: Average Region Age

Since graphs showing team statistics for different regions seem to be a popular thing to post, I thought I’d share my most recent contribution a bit more publicly. For my response to the best young teams thread, I wanted to try to quantify the difficulties 5895 faced as a rookie team specifically in MAR compared to some other, shall we say more rookie friendly, regions. So I made the following graph that shows the average team age for each region. I think this is a decent representation of how each region stacks up with the number of rookies compared to the number of veterans (and how old these veterans are). The number of teams represented in that region is printed over the region’s bar. Color corresponds to average age.

Unsurprisingly, MAR, NE, and New York are high on the list, and the bottom 7 regions are all international. Some regions are more surprising.

Gah rookies… way to bring down the average and mess up the curve! :wink:

I noticed you used Chinese Taipei rather than Taiwan in your graph:ahh: ::safety::

I’m pretty sure based on the n supplied at the top of each bar, but this is based on active teams only, correct?

I used the data straight from the TBI API, which I believe comes straight from FIRST’s API. Any political stance taken was done by FIRST, not me :yikes:

Yes, this is for teams active in 2018. It might be interesting to make a 3D graph over the years, but I’m not doing that right now (mainly because I don’t know how to make a 3D graph in Tableau).

Looks like a lot of combined years.

FIM: ~3220 seasons
Cali: ~2540 seasons
MAR: ~1440 seasons
NE: ~2175 seasons
ISR: ~476 seasons
ONT: ~950 seasons

I think it’s a little misguided to cite 5895 as a team that faced difficulties in a rookie unfriendly region. I would argue that the region is not-yet-registered team unfriendly, not rookie unfriendly.

FMA as a region is this high on this list because it is very bad at growth. Many areas of New Jersey are currently at or near peak saturation. Other areas in NJ and parts of the Philly area have turnover/sustainability problems because of the cost involved in FRC. Several schools have been burned and will not return to FRC because they did not have the proper financial or adult support. We as teams can become better at creating the network to make teams more sustainable, but many veteran teams in the region refuse this type of support from other teams.

5895 started a very successful team in a very saturated region because of strong school backing and experienced mentors. This isn’t something that is available to many not-yet-registered teams because either every high school in the area has/had a FRC team, or does not have the adults/funding to support a sustainable one.

What actually defines a “rookie friendly region”?

Is it growth? In Michigan, over 12% of the teams this year were rookies, and they’ve sustained impressive growth for many years, more than doubling their team numbers in the past 5 years. And yet they’re near the gray dividing line in the graph.

Is it competitiveness? Again in Michigan, only 3% of the teams to play in their State Championship Division Playoffs were rookies. Given over 12% of the teams in the state were rookies and 9% of the teams at the event were rookies, that seems to indicate a situation where the competitiveness is difficult for rookies.

Is it community support?

Is it financial support?

What, exactly, makes an area rookie friendly and another area not? While this graph is kind of neat, I don’t think it really helps answer the question.

At least those rookie teams who didn’t make division playoffs went to two events, played at least 12 matches at each and very likely made playoffs at both. I’m absolutely blown away by the number of teams in certain areas who go to one event a year, play 8 matches and have rarely if ever made playoffs. These areas aren’t even particularly competitive, they just have a humongous 60+ team events. This can’t be a good thing for struggling team of any age.

8 matches or 24 matches, no team can continue smoothly if the area doesnt have money to sponsor them or knowledgeable mentors to guide them. If more events was a reason for more teams, why hasnt Eastern WA/OR seen a boom in growth, even if the hypothetical teams didnt last?

There’s a question about quality vs quantity here. We know from situations like JcPenny that it’s pretty easy to prop up unsustainable teams by giving them money. In Ontario we’ve seen moderate growth (good representative to it’s overall size but certainly not explosive) but were not seeing nearly as many teams die off 3 or 4 years down the road because they were built up on a unsustainable foundation.

My team in high school was like this when I first joined. The school would pay all our reg and event costs. We’d meet twice a week and build a robot from KOP bits without any mentors. We’d go to an event, play our matches and go home. If even a little of our funding would’ve been pulled we would of died. We had no idea on how to raise money on our own. The only reason we existed was because someone footed the bill. No one on the team even knew that we had to bag the robot. It was not an inspiring experience.

I don’t think rookie friendliness is necessarily about the number of matches but I believe that you have to throw struggling teams a bone every once and a while. Teams should not be consistently missing elims year after year and large events extenuate that. You want teams to be able to see their improvements turn into results.

What I meant by “rookie unfriendly” I think is better described as “not-yet-registered team unfriendly”. Being that, at least from what I saw during my time in MAR, relatively few rookie teams started up successfully (at least compared to what I’ve seen in the past two years in Israel). The closest I got to being on a rookie team in MAR is being on a veteran “perennial rookie” team, so I wouldn’t actually know what resources are available to help rookie teams start up or continue once they have actually formed.

That being said, I know there are a number of schools in the Philadelphia suburbs that are large and wealthy enough to support FRC teams but don’t have one. From a quick Google/TBA search, Abington, Jenkintown, Perkiomen, Harriton, Spring-Ford, Methacton, Lower Moreland, Upper Merrion, and Upper Dublin are all decently-sized high schools in Montgomery county that don’t seem to have ever had an FRC team. I don’t know the story behind any of these schools, but I believe that with some more outreach we could grow MAR similarly to some other districts.

…if the area doesnt have money to sponsor them or knowledgeable mentors to guide them.

Stopping another JCPenny-esque event could be as simple as a mentor with past FRC experience (or at least experience in running a business) helping the team diversify its income streams.

Hah, I had no idea we faced such “difficulties”.

Eric hit the nail on the head. Sure - MAR has a large number of well established teams, and a relatively small pool of rookies, but I don’t think that makes it harder for new teams. I would say the opposite - there’s a good pool of experienced and “outreach focused” teams that are around for support.

Our district model, geographic density, offseason density, “medium” competitive skill/depth, etc - make for a pretty easy introduction for new teams. A decent BLT should make elims at MAR district events, and they can get help if they need it.

I think that MAR is just past the stage of growth where “ideal” schools have already adopted (or not) the program, and those outlier rookies who could be immediately successful already exist. Many (most?) sustainable programs don’t start off instantly competitive unless you start with experienced mentors and/or students.

As stated - our program wasn’t really a “rookie” program, we started up with a few experienced mentors, excellent design/fabrication resources, a large group of interested students, and curriculum built around participating in FRC. FIRST would really be in trouble if we couldn’t pull it off.

With that said - FIRST doesn’t necessarily make it easy for new teams/new mentors to succeed, but that’s a different topic.

Many of the schools you named participate in other robotics programs outside of FRC.
Harriton has a VRC team and hosts a VRC event.
Spring-Ford has a VRC team and hosts a VRC event.
Abington participates in SeaPerch.
Upper Merion has TSA, VRC, Science Olympiad, and SeaPerch.
Methacton has VRC.
Upper Dublin has FTC.
Upper Perkiomen has VRC and will have FRC in the next 2-3 years.
Perkiomen Valley is currently registered as a pre-rookie for FRC in 2019.

The Philadelphia suburbs are pretty well saturated when it comes to STEM participation. It’s a high density area for teams already. The areas that are currently underserved are Philadelphia itself, central PA, and the jersey shore. Barring a major injection of capital into Philadelphia’s school district, starting and sustaining teams inside the city limits (especially at neighborhood schools) will continue to be a struggle. Given Harrisburg’s criminal school funding formula, Philadelphia can barely afford to keep its schools open and afford basics like school nurses and guidance counselors. Central PA is hurt by the fact it’s a border region between MAR and regional territories. It makes the travel demands on teams more severe (and geography there also doesn’t help).

Surprised to see Colorado in fourth. I guess that’s what happens when there aren’t any rookie teams created recently nor old teams dissolving.

On the other hand, not at all surprised to see Louisiana on the right side of the graph. We have teams start up every year, and it seems like we have teams fold every year. In Louisiana, getting enough money (not to mention mentors, build space, and other resources) to operate is a bit like Alice - we have to run as fast as we can just to stay where we are.