Somebody help this poor student


I saw this post on r/FRC and wanted to share it here for more visibility:

I feel really bad for this poor student, and want to help, but frankly, I’m 23 and don’t think I’m qualified to answer. So I ask you, the wise ones of Chief Delphi, to offer your advice and support to this student.


I took a look at the link, and there isn’t really enough info to asses the situation. Everything is from the students point of view, which while frustrating to say the least, there’s no detail other than speculations.

For example from the link:
There are three teams with one heavily “favored”. Can’t say I wouldn’t do the same. There are students that work hard and should be on the “varsity” team. The fact that there are three teams is amazing, when a lot of teams simple say no more students can join.

Even going to worlds is a tough one. The mentor it sounds like puts a lot of his own money into it (which apparently is why they can’t get rid of him). It’s a lot of money to send a team let alone more than one.

I’m not going to say the mentor is in the right here, but without a LOT more info, I’m not going to say he’s wrong either.


It’s tough to really say whats up with the situation, as we only have a single point of view. Many of us are biased from working within FIRST for so long - we see things a certain way, but that’s not to say that what we look for in a team is the only way it should be done.

Many of us in FIRST have a strong opinion that teams should be run for the benefit of the student. That it’s about inspiring students, not winning competitions (although winning can help!). That’s what we see as a core part of FIRST, and something that I think FIRST pushes as well.

But this is rather rare in the extra-curricular world. In sports, you push your team to win. Even in things like debate team, band, math team, or chess club, there’s a focus on winning. A focus on putting the best people out there, with sufficient preparation, to win the event.

It’s normal, in the sports world, to see people cut or benched for performance issues. To see captains demoted if there are issues and new leaders promoted. It sounds like the mentor in this situation is handling the team along similar lines.

I won’t say that I like it - I don’t. It’s put that individual student in a tough spot, and it sounds like it has been the opposite of inspiring to the two former captains. But it also sounds like there wouldn’t be a team without this mentors financial contribution. That makes it a difficult and delicate situation. Come at him too hard, and he could just pack up and leave.

The best thing to do would be to get this mentor involved in the broader FIRST community. Get mentors from teams around him to interact with him on a regular basis. Something as simple as a weekly breakfast or dinner with a group of mentors, where people talk about their teams and challenges, could help this mentor to change his views, over time, and improve his program by doing so. It’s a soft approach, but that may be whats called for here.


I couldn’t think of many things more inspiring in FRC than a trip to worlds, especially for a student that’s never been to one.

I also can’t think of many things more uninspiring than telling a team that’s qualified for worlds that they don’t deserve to go.


I just checked their district ,he says he is on team 216, and last season from his mention of worlds, they did not even come close to qualifying, Its great they won EI at an event, but at least in the district model, you also have to win at the state level in order to qualify (only 2 EI winners are chosen at states for worlds) additionally their rankings not including EI were not even close to meeting the district point to qualify for worlds, while I cannot speak to this issue of suspending and changing captains, I do think this student may not understand the whole situation, as his claim about qualifying for worlds shows. Their are two sides to every coin, and I think some of his claims may not be fully founded in reality, but I do not want to in any way minimize the fact that their may be issues, no team or mentor is perfect, but we should not be too quick to throw stones at a mentor based on a single student’s claim.


just to clarify, they were on 244 last year, who was on the winning alliance at the Hawaii Regional, getting them a spot to champs.


ok, i stand to be corrected, i did not know they changed from 244 to 216, also how does that work exactly?


Triple Helix definitely struggled with this last year.

The premise in this statement is not valid for our team. Qualifying for the Championship doesn’t automatically mean that our team deserves to have the opportunity to compete there. It’s not something that is by any means owed to us.

The choice to attend the Championship (and it absolutely must be a choice) should be made on the basis of maximizing the long-term outcomes of our program; the choice should also honor our limited resources and the wishes of our sponsors to run an excellent, sustainable program.

Triple Helix considers the Championship a post-season event and will attend if it in our best interest to do so. Things that will count very favorably into this decision are:
– Being able to field an effective team that we are proud to present on a world stage
– Being able to field a robot that is an exemplary answer to the engineering challenge
– Expecting to control our destiny by competing as an essential member of a strong elims alliance


216, 244, and 288 are all sister teams, but I don’t know any internal details


ok, that could explain some of the confusion, if one mentor is mentoring multiple teams, and one qualified and the others didn’t, I don’t think you can just switch teams you are associated with in styms in order to go to worlds? at least our FRC team has started 4 other frc teams, we have gone to worlds and the others have not, and we mentor them, just because we qualify does not mean they can come with. if this is the case where they all work under the same proximity and similar mentorship, that could have caused confusion within the subset of students for each team.


They can’t bring their robot, get a pit, or compete for anything… but anyone can go to champs. The event is open to the public, so students from teams that don’t qualify can still register (in order to get a badge), pay for travel and lodging, and go. They can attend conferences, talk with every team in the place, all of the vendors, scholarship row, etc. That doesn’t mean it’s the best use of team funds (I would argue that many teams would be better served spending that money to purchase tools and such to increase performance and capabilities), but it is possible.


yes, I should have clarified, when I said qualified, I meant to compete, obviously anyone can attend, but anyone cant just show up and compete as he seemed to insinuate when he said qualify for champs


That’s a question I’d rather err on the side of inspiration. If your team is used to being a captain, would you refuse being a 1st pick because you weren’t a captain?

If your team’s expectation is to be a 1st pick would you refuse if you happened to be a 2nd pick. Same for 2nd pick and even 3rd pick.

The three sister teams have not been to worlds in over 4 years. Those students on the qualifying team would be able to actually talk to the best of the best in FRC. Maybe they’re only competitive enough to be a 2nd or 3rd pick. I will say one thing, they will not forget going to worlds.


One of my mentors is a RoboDawg alum, so this info is firsthand:

Students are “randomly” assigned to a new team each year. So if you participated in robotics at the school all 4yrs, you could be assigned to any/all of the 3 teams throughout your 4yrs. The teams are not divided evenly based on age or experience; only size. So it is very likely that each year one team will have more average student experience than the other two.
The 3 teams build 3 unique robots.

There is one primary mentor that funds a large portion of all-three teams’ seasonal expenses. I would assume that an individual affiliated with the program personally fronting that much money would have a fair amount of influence on the 3 teams.

-In case anyone was looking for clarification on their teams’ structure. Not sure how often their team frequents CD.


thanks for shedding new light on the subject!


Might want to take a look at these: