Qotw [11-17-02]: Manchester or remote kickoff...

Hi all. It’s almost the end of November, and soon before you know it, 7 weeks later, the 2003 kickoff is going to start the 2003 FIRST Robotics Competition. I’ve heard lots of cool things different remote kickoff did, and I am debating which kickoff I should go to.

For example, last year:
Manchester had a really cool rookie workshop using the Edu robot kit, not to mention visiting Dean’s house and FIRST headquarter
Novi had some very successful workshops
Kokomo one held by the Technokats and the San Jose kickoff had a 3rd party building the scoring objects to show teams.

And, as FIRST grow larger and larger, maybe remote kickoffs are they way to do it. With that in mind, here is the question of the week…

**Question 11/19/02: **

Should FIRST focus more in the main kickoff in Manchester, or in remote kickoffs across the country…? And what are you planning to do at your remote kickoff (if you are hosting one)?

There are different values going to the Manchester kickoff and the remote ones, and you have to consider what you are going to get at each one while considering cost and traveling. I would love to see what people think about these.

Also, over here WRRF are helping FIRST to run the remote kickoff at San Jose, and we are considering different things to do at the kickoff this year. I really want to know what others are doing at their kickoff this year.

Have fun!

-Ken L

I think FIRST should focus more on the remote kickoffs. I’ve heard Manchester is great, but it’s a long ways for some teams to go, and the students don’t get to participate. With remote kickoffs, the students can be a part of it, and everyone gets a chance to enjoy workshops and such. Remote kickoffs are definitely the way to go.

I think the main one should be concidered the best, the biggest, and etc. But each team should concentrate on the smaller remote kickoffs. New teams should go up to Manchester for the experince.

We are beginning to gear up for another Kokomo remote Kickoff.

But… we won’t have any workshops during the kickoff, just:

  1. Satellite broadcast video viewing
  2. Kit pick-up
  3. Viewing of playing field components

We polled the Indiana FIRST teams, and they said that hosting workshops during the kickoff is simply too late… they wanted them earlier.

So… we just got done with our second annual “Indiana FIRST Teams Workshop”, and a good time was had by all. Over 280 people showed up to the workshop sessions. Many of the sessions were standing room only.

Next year, we gotta get bigger rooms!

We have come to the conclusion that many of these workshop sessions need to be conducted now instead of waiting for kickoff. Also, during kickoff, teams want to get their kit, go home, and get started ASAP.

Having these simple remote kickoffs are a good thing. Being able to provide workshops is good, but they are more productive if held in the fall, like the Indiana Workshops were held.

Andy B.

I was able to go to the Manchester Kickoff twice.

The first time was our second year as a team, so I thought I knew what FIRST was about. However, due to weather, we had three flights cancelled out from underneath us and we didn’t get to Manchester until 3am Saturday morning. Needless to say we were not in the best of shape at the Kickoff.

The second year, I wanted to learn more about the animation software so I suggested we go early for the Friday seminars, it would also give us more margin in case of bad weather. The extra $100 for a motel room and car the extra day seemed worth it.

That was when I found out what FIRST is really about. Gracious Professionalism and changing the culture. They really pounded it in, or so it seemed to me. The party at Dean’s was also pretty neat, even if I did inadvertently get our sponsor (JPL) in trouble while talking to Dan Goldin. How many people do you know that can say they talked to the head of NASA at a party? (Except FIRSTers of course)

Now I highly recommend that Rookie team leaders go to Manchester for the Kickoff and the seminars. It helps you put so much together as to what is going on. FIRST is a very subtle organization. There is alot of psychology in everything they do. The party at Dean’s has a purpose beyond being a get together for 1800 or so of his closest friends.

Having the Championship at Epcot also played a part, which is why it is such a wrench to have it moved. But we are now too large for it to play that role anymore in any case.

I like the remote Kickoffs for veteran teams, though if I had the chance I’d still go to NH for the atmosphere (and to see friends from far away teams). But for Rookies, I think there is still a long way to go in terms of indoctrination at the remotes. Maybe some local committees can arrange a party at some local technocrat’s house? That would help. Not sure who we could get though.

Andy is right about seminars on the day of the Kickoff being too late. That is why ours are next weekend (9-4 CSUN). But having something at Kickoff makes it easier for the teachers to justify the extra day. It makes it an “educational opportunity” (FIRST being subtle again) and speaking as a Californian, it makes the travel easier and more enjoyable to not be on the move for most of 48 hours.

[quote]*Originally posted by Ken L *
**Question 11/19/02: **

Should FIRST focus more in the main kickoff in Manchester, or in remote kickoffs across the country…? And what are you planning to do at your remote kickoff (if you are hosting one)?

The NYC Remote Kickoff has 70+ teams coming.
We are alittle overwhelm!

And we still want to make it a lot of fun for everyone.
(like a carnival)

Most teams coming are happy to save money but
wish they can see Dean’s house and get a ride on
a Segway.


I think that FIRST should focus on remote kickoffs. They’re simpler overall, and it’s a day trip, which is a plus for a lot of us.

Remote Kickoff for us- Can’t get any closer to a kickoff then NYC’s Poly Tech Location.

To everyone remote kickoffs are definitely a good idea, because it save a lot of travel expenses, and its held close to your team.

But at the same time, I can’t help but think about the two times I went to New Hampshire for the main kickoff, and it was such a good experience:

Get to see Dean’s mansion!
Toured around the FIRST place and seeing where FIRST staff works.
Saw the robot hall of fame
Saw the Edu Robot rookie workshop that was literally condensing 6 weeks into 1 day (they even give out team updates!)
Saw the actual playing field Saturday morning
Met all these other team representatives who are just as overwhelmed about the whole competition thing and got the feeling of “wow, we are all in this together… I am not alone”
Met some of the big FIRSTers like Andy Baker and Joe Johnson.

It was definitely a very positive experience that I will NEVER forget for the rest of my life. So, while remote kickoffs are necessary, I still think the Manchester kickoff is really good for rookie teams.

Moving onto the next phase of the question: At the remote kickoff, what do you think teams would like to see?

What about some basic workshop the day before just about brain storming? How about social events like BBQ or dinner? How about hiring a 3rd party company to build the scoring objects and should that happen at all remote kickoffs?

I think all three of your ideas are good. The workshops and social would be nice, but I say the field is a must. FIRST should definitely have third parties build fields at all (or most) of the remote kickoffs. You can get a sense of what the field is like from TV, but you can’t beat seeing it in person. Plus, if you could find a place to put the fields afterwards, you could have a practice area for local teams.

I know that at the NOVI (metro detroit) kick-off last year, they had build the field. Once the announctment was made in NH, they let people walk around the field and try things out. I’m not sure what happended to it afterward (if any teams could access it) but, we did get to see in on kick-off day.

PS: i think this is what you are talking about, but i’m not 100% sure

I am curious. How much does it cost for the remote kickoffs to build the scoring objects? And how do they get a budget for that? For the San Jose regional, it was paid by two team last year, 115 and 254, who took the playing field objects afterward because of the deal.

Also, do you think FIRST should put budget into these remote kickoffs to build the playing field, or should they just get deals with teams where “teams pay the bill to build the objects and display at the kickoff, then they get to take them home”?

Mean while, I am even more curious how do teams run their kickoff events, either by hosting a remote kickoff, or hosting one just for themselves and a few other teams.

Please do reply.

BTW: Yes, BBQ at the Remote Kickoff is a great idea! so it’s a little

If possible, the organizers of the NYC Remote Kickoff will attempt to built a 1/4 or 1/5 scale of the playing field and it’s components.
The cost factor is always an issue. I hope the local
Home Depot gives us a break! (Yes, they support FIRST Teams!)

We’ll know after the committee review the shhhhh 2003 game
and decide on build or not to build.

We will definitely have a big brainstorming session
right after lunch because of all the new NYC Rookie teams.


*Originally posted by Rich Wong *
**BTW: Yes, BBQ at the Remote Kickoff is a great idea! so it’s a little

If possible, the organizers of the NYC Remote Kickoff will attempt to built a 1/4 or 1/5 scale of the playing field and it’s components.
The cost factor is always an issue. I hope the local
Home Depot gives us a break! (Yes, they support FIRST Teams!)

We’ll know after the committee review the shhhhh 2003 game
and decide on build or not to build.

We will definitely have a big brainstorming session
right after lunch because of all the new NYC Rookie teams.

:slight_smile: **

We found it a really good experience for the team reps to get together in a social event, and just talk about different things in general, and make some friends before stressing out for the 6 weeks. So that’s why we are trying to hold a BBQ before. Most teams over here at the bay area are really close working together in the WRRF, so it just make sense to do something like that. Too bad it will be snowing over at NYC.

About the building playing field objects part, as I mentioned, the expense was paid by the 2 teams, maybe its a good idea to suggest that to some of the teams. That way they won’t have to spend time making one themselves, and the kickoff have something to display.

Mean while, I find it interesting how your committee over there get to see the game before everyone else. Is this how it is for every other committee for other regionals?

The game is not finalized until beginning or mid-December.
Only people who sign a waiver is allowed to see the game.

BTW- we are trying to get a Segway for the Remote-Kickoff, we hope FIRST (Dean) will loan us a unit for show and tell. The NYC post office is using the Segway’s in a remote location of NYC for
a pilot program to evaluation them. They have several Segway
and we want to brought them. Maybe Segway racing at our remote kickoff?

Also, we may have a contest for who can guess the 2003 game.
What should we give alway for to the Winner? A Seg…


Just talked to the regional director over here… Realized its not worth the effort going back to Manchester again. The advantages of staying here at remote kickoff if you have been to Manchester before:

  1. Save money and time traveling
  2. know the local teams much better
  3. remote kickoff will have competition objects anyways (at least here and few other remote kickoff like NYC’s)
  4. can help out at the remote kickoff

So… I guess this mark the end of me going back to Manchesters…It is a lot of money, considering 350 dollars for ticket, 100 for hotel a night, and 7 hours flight each way. Lucky for east coast people for not having to travel so far and so expensive.

It’s so strange to see someone think of those as such great things. Living in a suburb of Manchester, NH, I suppose I’m lucky enough to work at FIRST Place over the summer… two floors away from where they invent the game (my first summer, I thought it was intriguing that the third floor does not have an elevator button, and is the only one with curtains. Talk about top-secret security!), and the Robot Hall of Fame is just another thing to tell the kids not to touch. Dean’s mansion, though I’ve never been in it, to me is just the lights at the top of the hill, next to the windmill, that I drive by on my way to the mall. And the Verizon Center… well, I go there to watch minor league hockey games and concerts!

I will say, though, before FIRST, I never thought living in my small NH town was exciting… but FIRST makes me realize how lucky I am to live here, and how many experiences I’ve had that most FIRSTers can only dream of.

That said, I’ll definitely vote for the Manchester kickoff, but I don’t know a whole lot about remote kickoffs in the first place. :smiley:

Right now, Patrick Wesonga and I are at FIRST Place. Lemme tell you, it’s amazing!

Fortunately, I live close enough to Manchester that I can easily drive there for the kickoff… Although I almost killed myself doing a 360 on I-495 driving up to Manchester in the snowstorm kickoff of 2001. This will be my third time going to kickoff in Manchester. I definately think that regional kickoffs are a good idea, though. There is no reason to make people get on an airline to be able to get to kickoff. Sure, the kits can be mailed and it is not necessary to physically attend kickoff at all, but nothing beats going and meeting people from different teams. Talking to other teams about their methods & philosophies can be invaluable. Therefore, I think regional kickoffs are a good solution, since it still allows teams to get together, without the need for expensive travel costs. Of course, if you can get to Manchester, the Manchester kickoff is probably the best experience.

  • Patrick

Hey, the offer still stands for you to stay at Babson before kickoff! If you can jump on a plane now…you might get into Logan before the T stops running :stuck_out_tongue:

I still think remote kickoffs are the best idea ever. Get the thrill of being in a big room and watching it with tons of people going nuts the same time you are, and skip the hours and hours to drive back with serious rear ballast in the form of plastic totes. Though Manch-vegas has the bonus thrills of seeing Dean’s house and hanging out at FIRST place, you don’t need to go every year…but you should make the trek at least once.

And is Dean still pushing for “Eventually I want a regional in every state so teams don’t have to travel far…”? If so, remote kickoffs were just a natural progression.

Finally, slightly OT, but is this the first Kickoff in a while without any major snow forecast?

-Jessica B