Rookie Entry Requirements Are Too Loose


Okay, is it fair to say there are more alumni mentoring teams both rookie teams lnon rookie teams then there were 10 years ago?
And also fair to say that 10 years from today there will be more alumni mentor teams then there are today?


I think that falls into the category of probably true but we just don’t know. However for the sake of argument I’ll say that’s probably correct. (I’m going to bed now and I have a comp tomorrow so I probably won’t be back for a bit)


Okay, you just agreed to the essence of my hypothesis. The only thing I cant prove is the sheer number and percentages as I don’t. Have them nor am I goi to take the time to get them but the number/ percentage will continue to increase every year as both number of alumni and number of teams increase, = positive correlation


Guess I’m not going to bed yet lol. To go back to your original point it seems like you were trying to argue that since more mentors have more frc knowledge over time we don’t need to help rookies as much or something. I can’t really tell your wording is very vague. If that is your point I fail to see the correlation at all.


Yes, that’s the essence of My argument, that all the requirments stayed by the op would not at all be necessary as the general knowledge of FRC and what to expect will be already known


If we agree that the percentage of new mentors that are alumni is increasing that really says nothing about if we need these suggestions. It only matters what percent are alumni. For example let’s say when first started there were 0 and every year it increased by 1. That would still be an increase every year but that would mean we’re in like the 20s for mentors who are alumni. That’s an incredibly small fraction of all mentors.
You also assume that they will actually mentor rookie teams. I would think most alumni who want to become mentors would go to a much older and well established team.


Not replying to anyone in particular, just some thoughts that I’ve had while reading through this thread:

Every rookie team I have ever talked to has been overwhelmed in their first season, and that’s about 15 teams I have had reasonable length conversations with. I don’t have a survey of all teams, but if MN and the teams I talked to are representative of FRC as a whole, that means at least 80% of rookies come in overwhelmed just by the binomial distribution. To me, this indicates a poor rookie entry process.

Hypothetically, yes, I’m sure there exist rookies that come into the season knowing they are not at all adequately prepared, but decide to forge ahead anyway, and truly don’t care if their team lasts longer than 3 years. I’ve never met a team like this though, every team I have met desires their team to have a long life so they can have a large impact. If anyone knows a team that actually doesn’t care about their own sustainability past like 2 years, could you please get someone to post here? Or copy a message from them here? I’m genuinely curious to meet a team like that. I personally would have no interest in mentoring such a team, as I like building things that last, but I suppose my perspective could be different if I were a parent?

Even if such teams exist, I really can’t imagine they constitute more than 1% of the FRC populace. At which point I would say, let’s not focus discussion on such teams, and instead focus on the 25% of rookies that don’t last more than 1 season but want to.


I’m interested in the cause of new teams. I’m not saying FIRST shouldn’t grow but seeing this thread makes me think maybe we do more to draw students into already existing teams instead of making it easier for new teams to be made. Inb4 por que no los dos.

BTW looking at the newest teams in 18-19 and its really good to see an explosion of international teams.
A lot of Test accounts and some duplicates too though.


At least in my experience, it’s not so much that they “don’t care” that they’re going to last more than a few years, but it’s that the investment of the founding class will only go so far. I think most hope the team will become sustainable and grow, but they also aren’t going to continue driving that cart themselves once their personal stake is up for whatever reason. Doing things like head mentor transitions are HARD (1712 has somehow survived four of them, none particularly easily), and many teams will simply fail when a head mentor steps down or shortly afterwards.

The parent example has been beaten to death a bit, but there are other scenarios in which teams can be highly successful for a shorter term. Think of teams started by college students, for instance. If they don’t successfully turn over mentorship as their mentors graduate and move out to jobs, they may not end up lasting. Same applies to professionals who shift jobs/locations on a relatively frequent basis.*

*Not to throw anyone under the bus, but I’m thinking about a team that won RAS and reached the division finals in its first year and was gone less than 3 years later. That mentor has started at least two other highly successful teams since then.


I only was able to read a fraction of the responses because… dang!

To the point:

Aluminum Falcons, FRC 2168, would not exist today if the suggested rules, or anything close to them, were enacted.


I agree.
Actually, that’s me. Didn’t know I even made that original account.


Which requirements would you have failed to meet?

Which requirements would you have met?

Which ones do you feel would have been impossible for you to meet and why?


From my perspective at least in my area, we try to grow to give as many students access to the opportunity as possible. Especially here in Turkey, this is a HUGE opportunity for the students. There’s other robotics competitions here, but none of them come even close to being what FRC is for the students. (also we don’t have FTC). So we actively encourage new teams as much as we can (we’ve been the fastest growing country with a regional for two years in a row). But we’re also working to sustain teams as we grow. It’s new here. But tbh, even if the team only exists one year, that’s huge for those students. They don’t have other opportunities like this here, and they get a lot out of it as far as I can tell. And the teams that fold - those schools have seen it, they know what it is, and we can bring them back later when the economy improves or they find interested students/mentors again. Honestly I think quite a few of the teams here do it without a real mentor - its just the students doing it almost entirely on their own, with a mentor “on paper”. The students are determined to do stuff like this and it really benefits them.

The cause of new teams in Turkey is mostly three things: 1 - up until now, the big unofficial regional we’ve been holding in the fall each year where we buy kits for rookies and give it to them for ~$400 so they can try the program out at a lower risk, and allowing veterans to join for ~150$ and holding a build season and full-show regional with no advancement to champs for them to compete in. 2 - Us (Fikret Yüksel Foundation) getting out and about, going to fairs and expos, taking existing teams/robots, making contacts, and convincing new schools to join, and 3 - the teams working to bring more teams in on their own.

1 is no longer going to happen though, 2018 was the last year of the unofficial fall regional (turkish off-season). We - at least in our area - feel that we accomplished our goals with the off-seasons (huge team growth, having a regional in Turkey), so we want to focus on using that money to support existing teams/ be able to afford to add regionals as team growth continues.

But IMO - rookie teams folding isn’t such a big deal. Sure, they only did it one year, but they will have learned so much from it in that one year.

Also, about drawing more students into existing teams - there is a maximum practical team size. Teams ideally operate between like 15-40 members, much more than that and students don’t get to be hands on as much. at that point starting new teams for more students is necessary to keep the students engaged.

A part that makes our teams a little harder to sustain, FLL goes until 16 yrs old in Turkey, and most students can’t be on a team during 12th grade because they can’t take that much time away from studying for the college entrance exams. So many teams only have 10th and 11th graders on them, etc. Most teams don’t get 4-year students, or the built up experience that comes with. So in that environment, it makes it so teams come and go sometimes, but again, the impact on them from coming and going isn’t any less, it’s just what happens around here. (though tbh, despite all this our retention rate isn’t that bad.)


“All requirements met before September 1…”
Immediate fail on every single “requirement,” even to this day. Even if such a deadline were pushed to November 1st, we would have failed for all first 5 years (07 through '11).

It was Tuesday in November of 2010. The $5000 for initial payment was due on Thursday. We had run an exhaustive fundraising campaign including cold calls to about 40 local businesses and had raised a total of $750 . Then [Local branch of Multinational Corporation that Carries Many Teams in other states] rescinded their $350 when we asked them to consider bumping it up to the $500 “Gold Sponsor” level. So it was a grand total of $400.
Thursday morning we we informed that SAIC had decided to sponsor us for the initial grant.

Each year has gotten better and easier.

At the time we had 2 other teams nearby that could offer assistance; we could have complied with such a “requirement,” but to be honest, it would end up as being an empty “ticket punching” hoop. “Hello, here’s me contacting you. Please verify that I contacted you.”

It’s October before I event start getting the students up on STIMS , and as of this moment, it’s still not complete.

If I were hit with a quiz, in a rookie year, that would be the final straw. Goodbye.

What we had was perseverance and vision; a handful of people (students and mentors) who knew what we could become, and a simple plan to improve (just a little bit) every year.

My own first year, 2009–Lunacy, our robot never moved until the third match of our initial competition. We had 1 student and 2 mentors who returned from the previous year. This was also the first year of Kevin (Notincontrol) and James (Otherguy).

It’s not about meeting monetary or organizational requirements. A team will survive/thrive if they have the people dedicated to making it work.


I really like the GuamFIRST rookie FRC team application, and I don’t see why it hasn’t been adopted program-wide.

GuamFIRST rookie application.pdf (249.0 KB)


thats pretty cool application, well thought out and graciously worded.

i had no idea there were teams from Guam before, but kinda curious, looks like 6308 and 6309 school fielded two teams? how does that work out? i wasnt aware a school can field more than one team.


There aren’t any restrictions on how many teams a school can form. In some cases it’s successful (70 and 494) but in other cases it can crash and burn (6312 and 6313).


Why did they decide to form multiple teams?


I can only answer to 6312 and 6313’s reasoning. The head coach decided that he as going to run a team for each of his classes. Despite many of us telling him this was a bad idea he decided to give it a go anyway. Neither team made it to an event in their rookie year in 2017. In 2018 they reduced to a single team and made it to a single event. This year they play this weekend and next weekend.


I’ve seen a lot of good points made in this thread, and it’s given me a lot to think about. I wish that in general FIRST shared more data, or even just the broad conclusions from their studies, with the community.

I still maintain that teams ending is not always failure. The failure that negatively impacts the FIRST community is when a team folds in a way that somehow scorches the earth on their way out. I’ve seen enough anecdotes from different people in this thread to be convinced that this is happening on some scale (i.e. school boards denying new teams permission to form based on experiences with past teams that have folded). I’d be curious to know (from someone with personal experience, not speculation) what exactly happened that left a bad taste in a district or sponsor’s mouth - something beyond “they failed to continue existing forever”?

For my part, I know my employer no longer sponsors rookie teams due to some bad experiences. My understanding is that our grant administrators were frustrated by certain rookie teams we sponsored failing to field a functioning robot, and failing to communicate with us in a timely manner when we requested basic information from them. They decided that our support would be better invested in teams that have at least one year’s track record showing they can provide a quality educational experience to their students. We still provide the same overall level of financial support to our local FIRST community, just focusing on non-rookies.