Strengths/Weaknesses In Your Region

As you can see by the title, I’m doing some big picture thinking beyond the team, the area, the town or city, and into the region. If you are interested in thinking about/discussing/brainstorming, please contribute to the thread.

I’ve gotten my knickers in a twist, thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of our region and Texas, in general. I thought it might be an opportunity for folks to do some thinking and see if we have common strengths and weaknesses to identify and to learn about the differences/dynamics in other regions.

These are some examples to get us started:

In your region, how many World Championship banners do you have? Robot competition and Chairman’s Award.
In your region, how many World Championship Divisional banners do you have?
In your region, how many WFA (Woodie Flowers Award winners) do you have? - (World Championship level)
In your region, how many WFFA (Woodie Flowers Finalist Award winners) do you have? - (Regional/State level)

In your region, how many veteran teams 5+ years are you aware of and have interacted with outside of the competition field?

In your region, how many 2nd - 4th year teams are you aware of and have interacted with outside of the competition field?

In your region, how many 1st year teams are you aware of and have interacted with outside of the competition field?

In your region, what are some ways other areas’ RDs (Regional Directors) are involved with teams and events?
In your region, how many FIRST Senior Mentors do you have? Any other FIRST affiliated folks that work with teams? If so, how many?

What were the interactions? Suggestions:

Outreach
Team development
Team sustainability
Area alliance of teams
Workshop training
Area fundraiser
Area scrimmage/off season

What are some of the reasons for not having interactions? Suggestions:

Disinterest
Distance
Lack of time
Lack of availability

There is potential for a lot of food for thought in this thread. As you can guess, I’ve gone fishing and am in need of people to help me learn to fish better; they are stealing all my worms.

Jane

By region do you mean state or midwest, west, etc. Because you referenced texas, as opposed to what i normally consider a region (even though texas is huge)

Good question.

Texas is huge, you are right. I would break us into 3 regions: north, south, and central - following the way FIRST has us broken down as I understand it.

It could be done by state or take it further if you want to really give yourself a headache. Indiana, then Midwest. I’m also thinking of the other countries involved in FRC/FIRST and what they think their strengths/weaknesses are. That is why I like the term, region. If you think Texas is big, look north to Canada’s provinces. :slight_smile:

Jane

Indiana-
4 World Championships (thanks bill! :slight_smile: )
1646 (7th year) and 1747 (6th year) and us (461) collaborate with each other every year. We are all part of Purdue FIRST. Every year we have a design review (week 2 or week 3), and then an open house (some day close to ship date). I believe originally people from the other two schools were part of 461 before they got their own teams.
We also have done demonstrations with other teams (1501, 71, etc. all 5+) at the state house and whatnot. (all in indiana)
In addition to that, the years that our robot is ready to go, we head down to Muncie IN where the digital goats (829) host a scrimmage.
I believe we also have some association with 234 Cyber Blue; one of their alumni is a college mentor and drive coach this year for us
^^^Area scrimmage/off season
^^^Outreach
^^^Team development
^^^Team sustainability
^^^Area alliance of teams
^^^Workshop training
2nd - 4th year: none that come to mind right now.
1st year: One of the original members of our team is now the head coach for team 3487 in plainfield, IN. We went over there to give them some pneumatics, wheels, old robot mechanisms, along with other parts, and helped them with the programming and wiring of the robot, plus a “mock inspection” done by a 1646 mentor that is also an inspector at BMR.
^^^Outreach
^^^Team development
^^^Team sustainability
So yeah, we’re pretty involved :cool:
P.S. If i included the Midwest, it’d be over 9000 championship banners :slight_smile:

I’m not going to fully fill out the questionaire simply because, well, I’m lazy.

But the fact is that there are three Hall of Fame teams within a 90 minute drive of Philadelphia. Two of them host-offseasons, and there are several other off-season events nearby as well. The Philadelphia regional has as many teams with two-digit numbers as it does rookies. 47% of the event has a team number under 1000. That should pretty much answer your question.

Somehow I doubt the lazy part of this, Sean. Thank you for the info.

Maybe I should clarify what I am looking for with the banners so I don’t cause confusion.

What I was initially looking for was the World Championship level banners but thanks to Duke’s post, I can see how interesting it would be to have regional/district information on the banners. For example, the rookie regionals this year would have much less than an established competition such as the Midwest Regional. Thank you for any and all information on the regional/district levels and the World Championship levels.

Jane

Isn’t all of this information available on FIRST’s website?

For example: www.frclinks.com/t/254

Is it?

Thanks for a good thread-starter Jane.

Oregon hasn’t seen nearly as much growth as Washington has in recent years. There are only a couple of ‘powerhouse’ teams that come to mind in Oregon. Washington teams have a tendency to come down here to our regional and beat us…heh…of course, I also remember the year some Oregon teams won a California regional…but I digress.

The Portland metro area [2 hours north of my team] has a lot of teams and at least one of them regularly hosts off-season events, pre-season training events, and the rookie-training event BunnyBots [Team 1540, the Flaming Chickens].
Team 1432, Mahr’s Metal Beavers, was in the news several months ago, regarding the high-press dispute with their school district. I understand that teams working within the Portland SD have difficulties with fundraising [the SD takes a cut out of any funds they manage to raise] and so on.

On a much more micro level, we have a great support network here in the Mid Willamette Valley. There are 6 teams located within a 20-mile, mostly-rural radius out of Corvallis. The three high schools [public and private] in Corvallis all have FRC teams, mostly 8-10 years old. Unlike Portland, I do not believe the schools take a cut out of a team’s own fundraising, but they do not provide much funding to teams. The regional-winning team last year had to do all their own fundraising for their trip to Championships, and I understand the SD does not provide them any funding at all.

We hold a Week 0 scrimmage, organized by one of the local high schools, that attracts 8-12 teams. I think Oregon State U and the accompanying engineering firms have a lot to do with the plethora of teams in the area. Oregon State’s robotics club started an off-season event last year, which was very successful [even more successful for my team, as we were top seed on a winning alliance, for the first time in our ten-year history :slight_smile: ] and they plan to continue that this year.

There have been a lot of rookie teams starting in rural areas of the state [Eastern and Southern Oregon, where it is a four+ hour trip to the Autodesk Oregon Regional, Week 0 scrimmages are out of the question, and mentoring is done by veteran teams via email]. This year my team is mentoring one of those rookie teams, but because they are at the extreme far edge of the state we had to mentor them only by email.

I am personally very interested in a 4-year-old team that started in my first year of robotics. They’re based in Eugene, which is also a college town, but without any engineering focus. My theory about Oregon State indirectly providing a lot of our support is supported by this: Eugene, a much larger city than Corvallis, only recently started an FRC team, while three out of the three high schools in Corvallis have teams. The Eugene team almost couldn’t afford to compete this year: finding corporate sponsorship is terribly difficult in a city with little technology industry. [Of course, we have our own financial troubles on Corvallis teams, and my team almost tanked this year…] As a friend of their team captain, it was heartbreaking to see them on the verge of financial collapse this year.

I don’t think there are any Championship banners in Oregon, although Washington may well have some :wink: But we do have the opportunity to travel easily to several West Coast regionals, unlike teams in the more central West.
There are never any certain winners of the Autodesk Oregon Regional, although one can be pretty certain of half a dozen teams that will place in the finals. Makes it rather exciting for us mid-level teams, I like to think.

I think we have a great network of teams here in Oregon: there just aren’t enough of us. I know the old saw ‘Success breeds success’: perhaps our teams need to win more regionals and Championships in order to attract the hordes of new students that well-established powerhouse teams in the Midwest and East Coast seem to be readily supplied with. I think we need to do a better job at educating our schools about the importance of FIRST. People at one of the schools I attend * too often just don’t know about the robotics teams.

Starting FLL teams is another way to feed new students into the program. I personally started seven FLL and Junior FLL teams this year, at our school and in the homeschool community, and hopefully in a few years we will see that pay off in the form of FIRST-minded incoming freshmen.
There is a sentiment I’ve heard mentors express, that Oregon focuses too much on FLL and FTC programs at the expense of FRC. I do know of at least one non-profit organization which supports and promotes FTC and FLL but doesn’t even mention FRC…rather disappointing. But they do have great resources for the FRC team interested in starting FLL ‘feeder’ programs :slight_smile:

I suspect I have rambled somewhat! and this is more focused on my very local region, but hopefully there is some bit of useful info here. Thanks again Jane.*

Bethany
That is a great write-up about the growing program in Oregon…
Don’t forget that the Oregon teams come up here to Washington and put on a great show too!! 1425 won the Seattle Regional last year!!

Oregon has a great robot family and we always enjoy coming down and playing robots with you guys!!

We will see you at the Autodesk Oregon Regional
Just 3 weeks away!!

Due to the sheer amount of teams in Michigan, I will just be doing this for Oakland County, which has 34 teams in it. If I accidentally mention a team from another county, please forgive me.

If I forget anything in my statement, please correct me!

In your region, how many Championship banners do you have?

In a county such as ours with teams such as 67, 33, 469, 51, 201, 245, and 1, we have a large collection of divisional banners from most of the veteran teams in the county.

Speaking in terms of world champions, we have 67 (3 times I believe), 469, 503, and 65 (off the top of my head). The CMP finalist list goes on much further.

We also have at least two Hall of Fame teams (Team 51 and 67), and possibly more to come as the years pass due to the strong chairmans programs in the area.

In your region, how many veteran teams 5+ years are you aware of and have interacted with outside of the competition field?

Within the Rochester area, we have interacted with teams 245, 33, 51, and 1 for demonstrations and parades. Outside of Rochester, we have done demonstrations with a variety of the other teams you would expect (910, 1189, etc) and competed at the TARDEC off season (in Rochester Hills) with most of the veteran OC teams.

In your region, how many 2nd - 4th year teams are you aware of and have interacted with outside of the competition field?

Due to the nature of Team 201, we have only done demonstrations with team 2612. We are very aware of many of the up-and-coming teams though.

In your region, how many 1st year teams are you aware of and have interacted with outside of the competition field?

Due to the saturation of FIRST teams in our area, rookie teams around Rochester is not too common, and thus affects our knowledge of rookie teams from our immediate area.

What were the interactions? Suggestions:

We have interacted with the other teams by holding robot demonstrations at local elementary schools and the Oakland County International Airport, attending robotics demonstrations at Oakland University, and participating in local parades.

Outreach

Our outreach efforts are outlined in our 2011 Business and Continuity Plan, which goes into specific detail on all of the outreach and the fundraising efforts practiced by the FEDS.

I would like to note that we have a very good relation with Team 245 from a public relations standpoint, as we often do demonstrations and events together. Although they may be our cross town rival, our relations could not be stronger.

What are some of the reasons for not having interactions?

I will be blunt, the reason for our lack of other interactions has been because of the disinterest of our team members. Living in OC, there are ample opportunities to get our team name out at demonstrations or to compete in OCCRA, but due to our members, we have found that not many are interested in doing other things beside building a robot.

Other Notes

We have been fortunate in the OC to have the TARDEC invitational for an off season event in our back yard and MARC and Kettering Kickoff within a “reasonable distance”. The off season competition possibilities in Oakland are very large, which allows for teams to participate in many different competitions outside of the season.

The county is also so saturated in teams that we have two district events within the county border. These competitions are known for being some of the hardest events in FIRST (Troy), drawing many “powerhouse” teams from all over Michigan. Also not too far from Oakland are 4 other districts in the surrounding counties.

Another note about team saturation in Oakland County is the spread of Rochester Hills students on FIRST teams. In a given year, students from the city of Rochester Hills can be on 7 different teams (201, 245, 1, 33, 469, 573, 910). This showing how many team opportunities are open to not only students who go to public schools, but also the private schools in the area. (Rochester High School students feed into two different teams, Team 201 (RHS) and Team 1 (Oakland Technical Campus)).

I think it’s pretty safe to say the midwest is the best region (e.g., northwest, southeast, midwest, southwest, northeast, etc.)
This would be a fun thread to start!

Not that I want to start a discussion in a thread like this, but it definitely is.

I also wasn’t including all of the other amazing Michigan teams who have held that title.

Alex, you forgot that HOT is also in Oakland County.

Beside the great teams, we have great mentors and volunteers in Michigan. This is why FIRST in Michigan was able to start - because we have such a depth. Among those mentors are 4 WFA winners: Dave Verbrugge, Kyle Hughes, Paul Copioli, Ken Patton

Guys, thanks for your consideration of the topic of this thread and containing your enthusiasm.

Michigan is rich in teams which means there are a lot of numbers to consider but - what I’m looking for are the strengths and weaknesses.

Example: of the sheer numbers, how many have garnered World Championship level banners? Of the sheer numbers, how many consistently compete well, putting themselves in a position of being a team to be reckoned with and how many are inconsistent in their performance or weakened by lack of resources, etc. And then there is the - how many teams do you interact with outside of the competition experience - side of things that you’ve answered. Thank you.

I have method in my madness.

Thanks, Gary. I’ll add the WFA info request to my original post.
Nathan, I’ve added the WFFA info request. Thank you.

Jane

I can’t believe I forgot them! I probably should have relied on something other than the FiM team map to know where all the teams were from. :wink:

Don’t forget 67… they’re from Oakland County. Also, 217, from Utica/Sterling Heights, seems to be from Macomb County, although it’s possible that some of their students come from schools in Oakland County.

What about the younger teams? Divisional banners in the under 5+ group?

Don’t hold back now. :slight_smile:

Jane

Great statistics here Sean. The Delaware Valley area lucky to have those teams Hall of Fame teams within such close proximity to each other. They have really helped with the shaping of the region.

When I first saw this thread pop up, I immediately thought of the number of WFA winners in our region. All WFFA winners are exceptional and it would be great to see one come out of our region for the first time soon.

Gary,
Can you expand on this?

What does it mean:
‘great mentors and volunteers’?

Suggestion:
mentors in the region working together? What types of events/projects leading up to FiM?
volunteers from many teams in the region?

Statewide?

Can you give some numbers.

Example: 15 teams, 20 mentors, 35 volunteers?

Rough numbers but something to give me an idea. For this thread, I’m not interested in ‘FiM’ formation other than the number of teams/volunteers/mentors involved in making that happen, I’m interested in ‘depth’. See what I mean?

Jane