The calm before the storm / Tips for 2005 and beyond.

<if this post gets a little long, bear with me Please, I don’t do this often. These long inspirational posts are more of a Ken Leung type of post*>

First of all, I would like to wish every one a Happy New Year. (I forgot to do that a couple days ago) With a new year, comes new challenges, and a new game, and for some… a new beginning.

While every attempt is made by everyone on this forum to be a fair and just person, I would like to first warrant a word of caution.

In the time of the 6 weeks, it is very stressful - Not unlike life in general, and if someone is very passionate over an issue (dealing directly or indirectly with FIRST) we can sometimes end up like Paul Jr, and Paul Sr. on American Chopper, and sometimes, “Sparks will fly and tempers will flare”. It’s all in the name of the game of life, and please try not to add to the fire or take offense… :slight_smile:

Now my speech to all:

Veterans Team Members:
If you are a 2nd year or more veteran of FIRST as I am, I ask you to do your best to help someone who has questions about FIRST, or anything in general whether it is here on, or on your team. The phrase “Read the Manual” may be a scape-goat for your replies to everything, but be aware of the rookie teams, and individuals of FIRST and the way you were overwhelmed when you were a rookie. IN other words, help rookies as much as you can, even though their ideas are sometimes a bit crazy. Explain what kinds of things “go” in FIRST (Outside the box thinking, creativity, and inspiration - Not to mention explaining what different things can and cannot be used on the robot due to rules of competition) and what kind of things “do not fly” in FIRST, (Flying Robots - Yet… :rolleyes: , and things like bad mouthing other teams, each other or even using illegal parts [big no-no])
Being a veteran of FIRST, you should all know what it feels like to be a rookie, and be tolerant of ideas and questions that seem “off the wall”. There will be talk of making a robot that will have a saw or some other destructive device on it. While this is good for the pop-culture world of Battlebots, this is something we as FIRSTers do not do (Unless the game involves cutting down and harvesting trees in Bigfoot’s home. :rolleyes: - Then it’s cool.).

I have personally found myself in situations where I have gotten sick of discussions like that of a robot on robot destructive nature in FIRST and wanted to say something, but bit my tongue. Please, take all ideas with a grain of salt, and then implement the ones that only the whole team agrees on and the one’s that do not violate the Golden Rule of FIRST - Gracious Professionalism. Or in the words of the Great Woodie Flowers, “Actions that your Grandma would be proud of.”

Rookie Team Members:
First of all, welcome to FIRST. Welcome to the club/team that you can get more out of then possibly any in your school. If this is your first year on a team, (no matter what grade you are in) learn all you can, and then next year - if you decide to continue with FIRST, you will know more than you know now. (Always a good thing) Feel free to ask questions that you do not understand, about any aspect of FIRST that you are aware of.
I recently read a post, that stated something to the effect of “I used to go on CD, and thought everyone on their that was a Veteran memorized the whole Manual for the year, and I was amazed.”
A lot of the manual is repeated over time, (Minus the game aspect) and this is just something that human nature does. We learn over time and then start to “memorize” a particular aspect of the things that have happened before.

Rookie Teams and Members:
I feel your pain as you are entering FIRST for your rookie year, and while I joined a team in my rookie year after I was out of HS, and had to not only learn the crazy game that FIRST came up with in 2001, but also how to work with people who I was unfamiliar with, I was at an advantage by how my team knew how to compare the information on the Game and other areas with the last year.
Congratulations on your team entering FIRST, and if you haven’t already, I strongly advise you to hook up with a Veteran team to be your official (or even unofficial) Team Mentor. This was actually “homework” proposed last year by FIRST’s founder Dean Kamen.

How are you doing with your homework assignment?
At the 2004 Championship, Dean Kamen presented the following challenge to returning teams:
“I have a new piece of homework for the students and for the mentors. It has occurred to us that the game keeps getting more sophisticated. That’s OK for the returning teams, in fact part of the reason that the game does get more sophisticated is that we want to challenge the returning teams. We have autonomous mode; we have more sophisticated controls and systems and parts. But we know that it’s harder on the rookies than it has ever been because the bar has been raised and because the returning teams, as you can see, are pretty good. So my new homework is to really encourage every returning team to find a rookie that’s involved somewhere near your facility that’s going to be going to your regional and adopt them, officially adopt a rookie and help them. I will be asking every rookie I run into next year who adopted them. And hopefully will get a good smile out of every one of them.”
In past years his homework assignment to us Veterans has been to grow FIRST and make new teams, but he realized this year that making teams is not enough for us Veterans, but helping you Rookie Teams as well is inherently important as FIRST grows technologically, and also the amount of things a team is required to do.

So, to recap:

Veteran Team Members - Be tolerant of rookies, and play nice (cause we were all rookies at one time or another)

Veteran Teams - Inspire your new (and returning) team members to get more active on your team and inspire creativity, and leadership.

Rookie Team Members - Learn FIRST as best as you can & Take advice from Veterans.

Rookie Teams - Welcome to FIRST and good luck, and find a Veteran Team to help you in times of need.

And, last but not least… (Wow, I think this is my longest post yet) :ahh:

Have Fun this year, and Good Luck. :slight_smile: And remember that Golden Rule of FIRST - Gracious Professionalism. Or in the words of the Great Woodie Flowers, “Actions that your Grandma would be proud of.”

*Ken Leung is a FIRSTer for longer than I can recall who is a (regular?) poster here on CD, and always involves himself in teams, and the growth of FIRST and the true ideals it represents.

Well said Elgin, I think that I’ll be showing that to my kids. While I, nor most of my other mentors, are actually rookies, none of my kids have ever even heard of the program and I think that it would help them out a bit to hear that. I may wait until after kickoff though, so they sort of get it a bit more… Thanks again Elgin!

Also, for all teams, check the White Papers section here on CD - LOTS of useful information for established and rookie teams from your fellow FIRSTers.

And, if you are a mentor dealing with the non-technical aspects of FIRST such as fundraising, travel, teambuilding, public relations, etc., join NEMO (Non-Engineering Mentor Organization) by private messaging me or RoboMom. (Note, a link to NEMO information is now on the FIRST homepage for anyone who is not a member of Chief Delphi yet).