Rookie and totally confused

:confused: :confused: Hi, i am a rookie and totally lost im not really mechanically minded so this is a new confusing thing i mean im smart and i learn easily but i just need a suggestion as to how i stay on this team and do something productive while not knowing what im doing or will i just pick up as i go? I dont really have anybody in my family to ask and the only person i can talk to outside of meetings is another rookie so not much help but can anyone help me out because im nervous i will mess everything up

Have you brought your concerns to your mentors? Just finding these forums and have the guts to post shows real initiative. I don’t know your team personally, but by the looks of it they certainly have their act together. Have they said anything or offered any suggestions of how you might want to participate?

:slight_smile: Stick with it – If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough! That’s how we learn, and that’s what we’re here for. And we’re around when you have any specific (or non-specific) problems.

hey smartypantz,

every freshman or first time FIRST student comes onto the team with little to no experience. The whole point is that you will get to learn how to do some new things. You can always talk to your mentor about any concerns you have, and if you are worried about messing something up, say so! Your whole team is there to support you. Start by watching the other members and seeing how they do things.

Pick a topic and just start learning. Volunteer yourself for being a rule-nerd and learn the rules front to back. Start by helping with the small things that are useful, like keeping people on task, or helping clean up at the end of the night.

You don’t have to build a robot to be on a robot team. This isn’t about the robot, it’s about learning. If you want to help build the robot, find a senior and ask if you can start learning from them. Any senior who has been doing FRC for a few years should recognize that you need some guidance and help get you going.

Good luck!

The most important thing that you can do is hang in there, read and know the rules, and try to learn as much as you can. I often find that our rookies have a different way of looking at things, and often become some of our more productive members.

It is as easy as learning what is going on, watching, listening, and observing how other members of your team operate. Sometimes things may seem easier if you just walked away, but regardless of your current mechanical abilities or knowledge, if you hang in there you will begin to understand how your team works, what they are doing, and eventually why they are doing it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially of the mentors on your team. Often, and observant student who displays willingness and interest will be taken under a mentor’s wing.

Don’t let your confusion get the best of you! :ahh: Every rookie gets confused, it is how you overcome it that distinguishes you! :slight_smile:

Don’t panic - everybody was new at some point, and this will pass.

It looks like you’re on a experienced team, so there should be plenty of people who do know what they’re doing, and they should be willing to teach you. Walk up to one of your mentors or experienced students who is doing something interesting-looking and ask if they can teach you what they’re doing (don’t ask while they’re actively cutting metal – wait for a safe moment). With any luck, they’ll show you how to do it and/or have you do it with them walking you through the process. Mentors love students that actively try to learn new things – it’s a lot easier to help someone who is asking questions, and we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t want to share our knowledge. If you don’t have anything to do, ask someone for a job.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. Just pay attention to the safety rules, ask questions when you’re lost, and read the manual, and everything will be ok.

The beginning of the build season is a challenge for everyone on the team. Approach a mentor and ask what you can do to help the team this season. Building a bot is just one aspect of the competition.

My sons 1st year on an FRC team he volunteered for all the jobs the other members didn’t want to do. By the end of the 1st season he had a better understanding of the dynamics of the team and had earned the respect of the mentors and fellow students. He is now a senior, team captain and many of his closest friends are also on FRC teams.

If you stick with the team you are going to have a lot of awesome experiences!

As everyone else has said just ask a mentor and explain how you are feeling.

I do have some construction capabilities but my 4 years as a student member were more spent on the business side of the team. Even the past 4 years as a mentor I have been non-technical unless I’m really needed. I felt really out of place my freshman year on the team because we were a rookie team and out of our 12 team members only 4 of us were not seniors.

From experience having someone who has read the entire manual front to back and is knowledgable about everything is always a plus. This year was the first year I’ve actually sat down and read the entire manual(while reading aloud to my students who were mainly sleeping) and it really opened my eyes to things I’ve never realized before. Having sat down and read the manual I do actually have input this year in how my students are designing and if they are trying to do something that would be a foul or illegal. It also helped me find a few mistakes in the manual that I was able to get answered when Q&A opened up.

In the off-chance that something bad does happen, remember to stay on the team no matter the incident, and learn from your mistakes.
I remember my freshman year I dropped a Sprite can, which then exploded all over our chassis. Luckily, everything still works, however to this day, I point to the stain on the carpet to explain to some people why they should always take drinks into the hallway.

I’ll vouch for this. Knowing the rules inside and out is probably what helped me most during my freshman year: if you’re the rules guru, you can help out almost anywhere and people will come to you for help with all aspects of the team. Even if you don’t consider yourself mechanically-minded, you’d be surprised on how much you can learn and pick up on just by telling someone they’re not allowed to use Globe motors.

One of my mentors was always insistent that “no matter what, there’s always something to do - even if it’s just pushing a broom, you’re being helpful.” Offer to help clean up from dinner, sort miscellaneous drill bits, take pictures (if you don’t already have a designated photographer, your team will thank you!), or proofread a team newsletter.

Your mentors (and student leaders) are there to help you, so talk to them if you haven’t already! Sometimes they can find opportunities for you to help out with, but they can’t help you get more involved if they don’t know that you want to be. Also, try talking with some of the veterans on your team and make friends with them - build season is a lot more fun with friends in the shop or lab!

This and this again. I found this out last year, being the rules person can help every single subsystem on the robot. Between reading the Manual, Q&A, Team Updates, the Blog, and Chief Delphi, you can be one of the most valuable members of any team.

While we are talking about rules nerds, I will shamelessly plug my online rules quiz (it has a separate topic, too.) http://engunneer.com/quiz

The one thing I will say is that your membership on the team is not dependent (or at least shouldn’t be) on the amount that you know, but rather on the amount you are willing to put in. You won’t be turned away from the team so long as you contribute in a positive manner. Take the initiative to do stuff. Show that you are interested. Show that you can be a valuable member of the team, and you will go places.

What not to do: complain that no one is giving you work, not show up because you think you’ll be useless, sit in a corner and wait for someone to give you work, get in the way. Make sure people (peers, teachers, mentors, coaches) remember you in a positive way. Only then will they be more open to talk with you and help you. Don’t be afraid to talk to people (except when they’re busy). We (the FIRST community) are here because we want to get to know people like you.

Get on raising as much money as possible, and as soon as possible. You’re better off to have too much now and save some for a later project than risk running out.

And keep the robot simple and elegant!

One way to learn is to be inspired by others: http://www.frc-designs.com/

If anyone has the link to the FIRST Canada mechanism photos, that would be great too.

Getting started with FRC can be difficult, and unless you have experience in robotics, you should not expect that your first thought is the best thought. By learning how other teams approach challenges, you gain some of their experience. It is a cumulative effect.

Oh, and you can PM me if you have questions. I’m more of a programmer/CAD person.

All above are excellent suggestions. Main thing is to find your niche. Can you recruit new members? Organize activities? Take pictures and videos of the process? Help with fundraising? Help with spirit activities, tshirt design, marketing? Building the robot is important in FIRST, but so are all the other activities which go along with it. EVERYBODY can contribute in one form or another and grow from there.
Best suggestion is to talk to your teachers and mentors. Also watch and learn from the ones who have been on the team a while. Maybe most importantly, have fun! Good luck!

The biggest thing I would say is not to wait for someone to give you something to do. I have also found that people who put in work ahead of time to learn CAD or programming or some other unique skillset become much more useful during the build season than people who skipped this training. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions during the design process or ask about why your team uses one of their traditional designs (like why the center wheels are dropped in a chassis). Any veteran team member or mentor loves to talk about robots and asking questions will help you understand design principles.

(During my rookie year, I actually taught myself CAD, which my team had not used before. It wasn’t much help during build because I was too slow and was just documenting what they built, but after the robot was shipped and they needed some specific dimensions, I became much more useful. The skills I learned that year, which seemed slow and unnecessary at times, enabled me to become one of the lead designers on the team for the next 3 years. I was able to teach other students to use CAD, which was the beginning of my leadership role on the team.)