In my 4 years as a mentor I have often thought about how teams miss their seniors and constantly must recruit and train new students, but I never considered what it must be like for those seniors. I will remain on the team after my daughter graduates. The have spent the last 4 years growing, learning, becoming like a family with their teams. Many will join other teams near their college as a mentor, a few may at some point return to their original team, but the days of being a student team member are or will soon be over.

I am curious to hear what this is like from students either going through this now or ones that have already been through it.

This was particularly difficult for my class. We mostly consisted of the founding members of the team, so it was hard for a lot of us to “let go” and let the fresh blood take over. I know I particularly had a lot of personal issues in this realm, and it took a lot of adjustment on my part to learn how to step down and let the kids take over, especially when their ways are different. I know a lot of people have this trouble as well with any organization. I am still involved with a number of organizations that I was a part of in high school, including scouting, but FIRST has definitely been the hardest to get used to. I can’t imagine what it would be like moving to a place where there are no FIRST teams or connections.

Of the six of us, five are attending West Virginia University (where the team is based), and one is at Harvard. We are all still very actively involved as mentors, but it definitely will never be the same. It takes some getting used to and a lot of transitionary periods, along with getting suited with the college life, but it all comes together in the end!

It can be hard to let go. I started to ease up when I became a senior, training a freshman friend of mine to take over as the head of electrical. Now she has become a senior and it goes full circle. I’ve been lucky enough to go to college close enough that I can still mentor my old team.

It’s definetly a bit of a challenge balancing the desire to use your experience and steamroll ideas to get what you think might be the best result. At the same time though sometimes you can learn a lot from what the freshman and new students have to offer. New ideas are always coming up.

Inspiration is a two way street. The mentors and alumni can inspire the students, and the students with their young open minds can find innovative solutions to problems. This year was particularly great for me. I’ve fallen a little more naturally into the role of mentor keep my hands off when I can and watched the students explore their options. It’s worked too, we’ve had our most successful year to date: winning our first 2 regionals within 2 weeks of each other.

Finally as a mentor who was a former student, it’s nice to see the progression of the team, and how little steps from when I was on the team have snowballed into a culture of strategy, initiative and success. We started a student leadership program my junior year, and since then we’ve had a solid leadership structure that has helped our team be efficient and win entrepreneurship awards.

It all depends on the team, and the graduating senior. Me personally, I’m happy to help other teams, but I will always associate, and consider myself apart of my old team.

Without a doubt though, each student makes an impact on their team.

My team has always given “send-offs” to our graduating seniors by gifting them with collage’d giant posters of the student ranging from the year they joined to the year they graduate, and of course supporting in attendance at graduation.

Retention of seniors becoming alumni is something that ultimately depends on the senior’s endeavors and/or continual enthusiasm for FIRST.

I’ve been two years graduated now, and I’m still trying to find my placing as a mentor… it’s SO hard not to touch the robot!! :slight_smile:

I honestly feel like the past year flew by me.

My team started my Junior year with Rebound Rumble. Unfortunately our joining of FIRST was pretty last-minute, and I had already made commitments to other organizations that I couldn’t break. Nonetheless I tried my best to help when I could. Our team was big, and excitement was in the air at our school thanks to this new and interesting group. We finished 7th place at the Saint Louis Regional, which was beyond our expectations.

Fast forward a year. We lost all of our programmers, either to graduation, moving, or inactivity. As a rookie team with a lot of excitement, this wasn’t expected at all. Also, our team seemed to decrease in size quite a bit. I guess the novelty wore off. I volunteered to head programming, having never touched LabView or having programmed anything before (to be fair, nobody on our team at that point knew programming).

So yeah, it was hard. Learning the ropes while helping our other departments was stressful at times. The glamour had disappeared. For Rebound Rumble, everyone was interested in FIRST. We had newspaper articles written on us, video PSAs filmed, people watching the live stream at Chaifetz Arena to see how we were doing. We had none of that for Ultimate Ascent.

Nonetheless, I consider the past season one of the most memorable times of my life. I learned so much, made new friends, and had a blast while doing it. It’s saddening that my school only started my Junior year. I would’ve liked to done more! It was stressful at times, but it was a life changing experience. Now that I’m done for good, I’m trying to contribute to next year’s team as much as I can. I’ll be far out of state for college, so I want to do everything possible in the time I have.

So I guess it’s bittersweet. I hate to leave after the great times I had, but I’m eager to see what’s in store for myself, my team, and any other teams I should stumble upon.

I’m graduating this year, and it’s looking to be really difficult. It’s going to be hard to leave my team after all the personal blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into everything from ensuring that there will be a team the next season, to getting a new group of students excited about FIRST. I’ve been on the team for four years, and most recently President, and it gets to be a big part of you.

But I’m not worried - I don’t plan on leaving for good; I’ll be back to mentor when I can, and I plan on volunteering as much as I can. And I’m not worried about the team, either, I’m confident they’ll do just fine without the current senior class. Even though our performance on the field this year wasn’t up to our usual standard, I asked the group afterwords who was inspired by what they’d seen at the CT Regional. Everybody put their hand up. So I know they’ll alright.

It’s sad and humbling leaving and I’ll sure miss being a student on a team, but I’m honestly pretty excited for what lies ahead. So yeah, bittersweet.

It’s worse when you’re still able to actually be a part of the team the year after you graduate. I think I took it pretty well, but it was tough for me to actually let the students take over for the most part, and for me to just step back into a mentoring role. That wasn’t helped when I had to program the robot one year due to a lack of interest, which brought back the feelings of being on the student side.

Even though the team disbanded, I’m now in the mindset of being a mentor. The way I see it is, I want the students to have the same experience and attachment that I did in the program, so I don’t want to get in the way.

I’m not a senior, but I have watched over the years as freshmen turned into seniors. I have watched as those freshmen suggested ideas, only to be shot down because the team wanted the seniors to go out on a high note. I told those freshmen not to loose faith, as they just needed to move forward & become those seniors. They did.
Yes it is difficult to keep retraining every year, but when those seniors move on, be it to college nearby, or away, they still have that drive in them. I have seen those seniors mentor in college & then mentor after college. Some have come full circle back to the team.
Yesterday at the PTR, I saw a well groomed team compete. We do very well, we make almost all of our parts. Students are mentored on the machines and learn valuable lessons. We didn’t win, but we became finalists. They didn’t mope, they didn’t complain, they even offered their time-out to the opposing alliance to fix an illegal problem. I was field reset & couldn’t partake in the cheers up in the stands. We are a very proud team & do everything with honor.
You just have to look at the team as a whole, not that “Seniors” are leaving. You’ll be the better person for it.

I am a graduating senior this year and honestly, leaving FIRST will probably be one of the hardest things I will have to do before graduating. I joined FIRST in 8th grade through FLL and then moved to FRC in high school. So that is a total of 5 years in this wonderful program. FIRST has been a huge part of my life and I have no doubt that without it, I would not be the woman I am today.

Last year, our team lost a huge amount of people from our team due to them all graduating. All but one of our department leads was a senior and we thought we would have a hard time trying to pick up where they left off. Luckly, our team also has a great FTC group that we use to train freshman and sophomore members before they join FRC. The seniors who left were missed but the new members were able to pick up right where they left off without skipping a beat.

I think the only subgroup that will hurt after my class leaves is our Program Management/Media Department (only one member in this group is not a senior). Hopefully we can recruit more people soon!

I am planning to come back and mentor my team during my breaks in college and maybe even mentor a newer FRC team near my college. This year may be the last year I am able to participant in FIRST as a student but I will definitely find ways to keep FIRST close to me.

They say old habits die hard, and I say passions never fade away. FIRST, for me, will definitely will never go away.

Don’t tell my parents, but leaving 422 as a student was probably harder than leaving home for college. I still keep tabs on their doings and monitor some of the goings-on, and do some tele-mentoring with the outreach team because I see a lot of potential with them, and I try to put in work with the local team, 2614, whenever I have free time, but it’s hard. I love this stuff too much to be sane. I still wear my shirts proudly, talk about them to random people who ask me about it, go to competitions, hang out on here, talk robotics with other alums, but trying to adjust to a guiding hand instead of an active force is very difficult. There has been a lot of silent facepalming off to the side where I can’t jump in and shake down those in charge of design or whatever because it’s not my place anymore. I critique and step in when needed. It’s awkward in its best moments.

EDIT: I would also like to add that just because some students cycle out and cycle in, the best students recognize that the success and sustainability of the team is far more important than the sum of their contributions. My class did a lot of work that isn’t going to pay dividends until a year or two from now, and this year’s class did the same. The number we wore and the mission that drove us means so much more to us than the trophies we won (but finalists and Innovation in Control winners was pretty cool)

It’s tough. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I went to kickoff the year after I graduated, and realized “I’m not going to be competing in the game, I’m never going to build an 1189 robot again. Never going to tell another judge our team history, never going to sweep the pit clean, never going to have to scramble to change the battery on the way to a match ever again.”

Since I don’t have time in college to mentor, the way I coped with it was by volunteering - which is something that I started doing my senior year in high school. Still not building robots, but it’s still exciting to watch the students have the same experiences that I did in high school. I’ve made a lot of great friends though volunteering, so when I’m at a competition I’m still going back to a family of sorts.

My younger brother is still on the team, so I still go back when I’m home to see how they’re doing and help out if I can (I actually walked in to the shop last year during an unbag period and the first thing I said was “your bumpers are illegal”). I may not be able to help them directly any more, but I’ll always be proud to wear those numbers. I still wear my bandanna on my wrist when at competitions, still wear my “gearrings”, and still wear my gear necklace as a reminder of how much of an influence the team had on my life.

Amen to that. There are a lot of things that I can look back on and say “I contributed to that”, even though the benefits didn’t start coming through until this year. My class went through a pretty rough phase of the team, with robots that didn’t quite work, constant mentor and teacher transitions for various reasons (4 teachers in 4 years), changing workspaces, and handling the largest influx of rookies/largest team we had ever had up until that point. And things are definitely looking up for the team now that everything is a lot more stable. I loved my time on the team despite the stress, but it’s a great feeling knowing that others are now having even better experiences.

Among other more important things, I’m still overjoyed when I go back to the shop and see my handwriting on the labels of the battery cart…

I forgot about this. Volunteering, while only a few days a year, can help ease the pain of not being a student or having time to mentor. You get to see amazing robots, talk to even more amazing students about how said robot was designed and works, and watch the competition (depending on your role). And it can be fun, too.

I am still getting used to the idea of having to go to college. I cannot cope with the idea of stop building robots for LamBot, I am a founding member of team. LamBot has been my whole high school. I feel very proud of the job done so far but I feel guilty too. During my three years in FRC my team members and I have not been able to find some kind of quality standards for the area of engineering. Most of our mentors are new each year so the quality of our robots have not been the best so far. I feel bad because I am not going to be able to be with them when they have to face the challenge of teaching a new mentor what FIRST is. But no everything is guilt, I feel proud that there are other students willing to take the leadership of the mechanics team. I may be away for FIRST, I may not, I don’t know yet but at least I know that I have made some contributions to my team. I was safety captain and pits captain on my two first seasons, and now the new girls in charge of safety know how to keep everyone safe, how to impress the judges and even some other teams. (I won the Star of the day in 2012 and the girl I trained to be safety captain won it this year). Also in LamBot scouting was terribly handled, scouting was seen as “send someone to tell everyone that our robot is cool” but this year I trained six juniors and freshmen to scout the event and make effective strategies for our qualification matches. (This year that didn’t help us a lot, we are still trying to get the robot part straight.) I am the FIRST non-mentor coach of drivers of the team so I am planning to leave some kind of document to guide the next coach.

All in all, I think I have made a contribution to the team, but I still feel like I have not given everything I could give to my team. It is hard to think about not being able to build and FRC robot in the future, but I guess this is how this works. New students deserve to take my role in the team and they also deserve to live the experience I lived. The bright side of this is that next year the first Mexican FRC regional is going to take place, so I am pretty sure a lot of hands are going to be needed (By the way, we are going to be more than happy to have non-Mexican teams attending to our first regional, hope you speak Spanish.)

I’m just worried that that the team will still survive and I want to do all I can to help it grow. Our team is somewhat small.

Obviously I am not a senior… but I have a confession to make. My first year as a mentor I am embarrassed to say that I was a little annoyed by alumni hanging around like they owned the place, “trying to take over”, and “acting like it was their team”. After 7 years and my 2 children going through their 4 years with the team I have realized just how wrong I was in that impression. It is still their team (the alumni that is)… but it is not just their team. This team is part of every student, mentor, sponsor, parent, alumni that has ever been part of it. That is part of what makes FIRST so special. I have since apologized to the alumni from my rookie year whom I judged so unfairly with my exclusionary attitude, explaining that I just didn’t realize. In fact I have very much come to cherish the many, many contributions to our team that are made by our alumni.

So, I say yes graduating can be hard but it is not goodbye if you don’t want it to be.

If I am being honest the transition was not as hard for me as it was the rest of the people on the thread mostly due to the circumstances of my team. At the end of my sophomore year (my third season) my team lost everything, build space, teacher sponsor, main sponsor, access to our awards were taken from us. With a small group of students older then my class, and only 2 younger we took on everything on the team even the things mentors were “meant” to do. We became the main contacts for the team for sponsors to contact, we set up meetings, outreaches, began the process of becoming a 4H, up until we found a sponsor at a new school to take us on.

With those things established under us we became the driving force behind driver selection, team leadership, and public presence. The only thing that we didn’t have control over was robot design, since to the new mentors we were “just kids” we did not have the knowledge to design and build something that complex, those were also to the two years we fielded our least competitive bots, this was what lead me to actually becoming a mentor and actually switching which schools I would be attending for college since I loved my team and did not want anyone after me to have to deal with this form of “Inspiration”

My first year mentoring my duties didn’t actually change much due to our team distribution of experience (1 4th year, 1 3rd year, 10 2nd years, 22 1st years), so I became drive team couch after spending 5 years behind the glass as a student, lead mentor of writing taking over a bunch of rookie students, head scout of a group of rookie scouters, and the team “robot inspector” basically it was my job to memorize the rules after the first day (which I did as a student) and explain if a design or strategy was illegal. So the switch over was not so drastic to me.

That being said I am glad with entering my third year of mentoring my duties have changed to allow more students to become junior mentors like I did. The drivers begin evaluation being judged by senior students, a student I mentored is now the head writer with another now being the mentor of the sub team, and my pick for being the student lead of scout is now in his last year, produced a strong team behind him and is going to go to Alabama to hopefully help start up a lot more FIRST teams and bring the state closer to it’s neighbors( Alabama only has 11 teams while Georgia has 49, and Florida 77)

So to conclude my longest post ever on chiefdelphi I feel that I set out with a plan and understanding of mentoring before graduating and have set up other students to do the same. Was it weird not going out for alliance selections, going to the question box, presenting chairmans, or driving? Yes. Was it hard to give up those things knowing that other people would get the same feelings I did doing them? No.

I was one of the original members of 2502 and graduated from it a few years ago. It was definitely strange to have so much free time in my spring semesters that I didn’t know existed after 4 years of robotics.

I tend not to get too sentimental about things like graduating, but this may have been because I was at the U of MN my senior year anyway. Additionally, I spent much of my senior year trying to train the younger members, so that I would know when I left the team would be in capable hands. One of those younger members went on to win Dean’s List at 10,000 Lakes Regional this year. I still am a source of contact for my team about various problems due to the time I spend on CD and the amount of knowledge I have read over the years.

This year, I actually began to help mentor Team Neutrino (3928) with numerous other alumni who attend Iowa State University. I feel as though my transition from student, to captain, to mentoring was one smooth and fluid transition, my involvement with FIRST and FRC never really ended or changed suddenly, but rather slowly changed from learning to teaching.