The possibility of a yearlong model for FRC

Going off the recent posts in the thread regarding FRC’s inspirational value for low budget teams, I wanted to see what the community thought about the advent of a year long model.

Coming from my years in VEX at the middle school level, I personally don’t think it’s the right model for FRC given the naturally grueling nature of FRC compared to other competitions that I’ve partaken in.(This might be more the timeline of FRC rather than the actual actions involved in competing in FRC) I also feel this would remove the possibility of off-seasons occurring due to the much shorter break between seasons.

Anyways, I would love to see what the community thinks of this idea and what concerns and adaptions you would propose on this model.

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A year-long model sounds exhausting. The offseason gives teams the chance to participate in offseason events, try out new technologies such as swerve, and update their facilities. A year-long model would be pretty cool but I feel it would detract from all the great possibilities offered by an offseason.

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I really liked the 6 week build.

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I’m not sure I liked it, but I sure do miss it.

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It’s weird to me that when some people imagine a year-long FRC season they see it as the effort of a day in a 6-week build season being put into every day for the majority of a school year, while others see it as the effort of a 6-week build season spread out over the majority of a school year.

Personally, I’m inclined to believe it would turn into the latter. Meeting less often, less burnout, and so much less rush. I’m supportive of a season that runs through the full school year.

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I agree, I think it might be cool to make the season slightly more like a real-world engineering project. More analysis, proper software architecting, the possibility of meaningful simulation, more practice time…

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I’ve learned from the last year or so that we will find a way to fill any time we can meet. Make something a touch better…that’s a few hours. Redo a sticker graphic… That’s a few hours. Balance the flywheel better and so on and so on. As they say, the robot is never done.

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Knowing myself, that is not what it would turn out to be. I mentor our (middle school) FTC team, and I totally think a longer FTC season would make me less stressed, and would spread out my work better. But the way I get dedicated to the FRC season, I don’t think I could take that step back and relax more. I think, at least for me as a student, it would end up being :

So I love spending time on robots, the more time I spend the better the robot gets. Taking away the limit would simply make me spend an even more unreasonable amount of time on robotics. So I see the appeal, especially as a mentor, or as a student who enjoys robotics but is not consumed by it. I am neither of those things.

I personally really enjoy off-season, its a great time for me to learn new things and experiment with new designs, without the stress or competition of in season. Its also important to our team, it gives us a chance to do some much needed cleaning, reorganizing, and training.

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A lot of teams already have a year long model for FRC.

(I know the point is about a year-long build season with the actual game, but it’s not that different from what a lot of teams already do.)

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Hot take: It’s got to do with where people come from. If your team has a solid infrastructure (sub-groups, student led, etc), then you’re more likely to be with the latter, while teams with no to weak infrastructure would be more of the former.

Hotter take: Teams with weaker infrastructure likely also do not participate with the FRC platforms.

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It’s threads like these that remind me of the great American philosophers Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon and their unique and insightful wisdom.

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Ok, I’ll bite on this. A lot of folks say that year long would be exhausting. They are right. A year long at the 6 week intensity would be awful. So allow me to propose a different option.

Jan - Late Feb - Build Season - High intensity like we currently have.

Late Feb - Late April - Comp Season - High intensity like we currently have.

May - August - Documentation Season - Encourage introspection about what worked well, what didn’t, and documenting their efforts. Include awards for submitting mechanisms and solutions to then be hosted on the FIRST Mechanisms Pages (An all digital repository to take the place of the Behind the Design books)

May - August - Off Season Events - Y’all didn’t think I’d get rid of off season time did you?

September - December - Pre Season Challenge - Events similar to the at home challenges from this year to encourage specific skills to be utilized in the upcoming season. For example - If it’s a shooting game, let’s do a challenge for tracking targets and shooting them. If it’s pick and place, something to encourage building manipulators. Heck, maybe even release the game piece early here.

This largely mimics the year long seasons of many upper tier teams (as I understand them) while also creating a killer resource for younger teams and encouraging good practices for teams.

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I think I’d like on regular no bag season before departing to a longer model. I think Jan kickoff with April Champs is best for our mentors and students. I think students are more burnt this year despite having more time, so I think there is a medium between the 6 week (real for some teams then) and whatever this year was (granted our meeting schedule was slightly less intense this year).

I dont think summer would work for us and I like the low pressure of the Fall. I also like having a season that mimics a sports season, and conflicts with less sports and activities. There is a local familiarity with that so it feels more team like and less like a club.

Last FRC cost us lots and we typically need time to fundraise most in the Fall, while we could do both we don’t have a team organized or large enough that we can always keep people not working both. So it is easier thinking I can work on this in the Fall and devote just to robot in the Spring, rather than keeping everything going together.

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This.

We’ve had 0.75 seasons without the bag and with in-person competition. Let’s try to make that 1.75 before we make any major adjustments.

Doesn’t mean we can’t discuss pros and cons and methodology, but I’ve got a feeling that just like the last few times this has been discussed, we’ll end up in a bit of an impasse on “more time means more burnout” vs “more time means less burnout” etc.

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I’d settle for adding an engineering notebook to FRC in the short term as long as we make publishing it as a PDF to the FIRST website a requirement :wink:

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Wouldn’t mind, provided that 1) the requirement was post-competition (after your last event you have 6 weeks to get it together or _____) and 2) it’s public after a quick check-over. (Also, 3: Unified format but no min/max on length).

It’d be interesting to see how many 254 clones showed up at offseasons after that.

That said, a low-resource team would probably have issues completing one of those as well…

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Im torn on this - on one hand having it post competition makes for a useful retrospective tool and that’s great . The other big benefit I was seeing was for technical awards prep. Since a large amount of the technical awards are predicated around the engineering process encouraging documentation to help teams with that.

On the other, it’s one more hurdle and I’m not sure that’s a great thing.

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This. Exactly what I was thinking. A short build season imposes more structure, which is better for teams with a weaker infrastructure.

I’m also a huge fan of the ~6 week model. I think it really set FRC apart from other programs. Getting students to think in terms of a 6 week time schedule is really beneficial for real world challenges. I honestly wish we had more of it in college.

Final note of consideration. When do new students come into the program? Halfway through the season? At the very beginning? I’m not saying it’s not doable, but as someone trying to build up a structured team, it’s nice to not have build season all year long.

I like the limited nature of the FRC Build Season - I know it makes it hard, but it doesn’t make it impossible, and when you’re done you can go tell people, look I built a robot with my team in 8 weeks - I dunno, to me that’s powerful. I studied Architecture, so the build season looked like a cakewalk compared to Studio projects :stuck_out_tongue: but really I think it’s a good thing, it teaches time management, prioritization, etc. IMO that more resembles life most of the time. In life in general, you have to prioritize, manage your time, etc. A lot of people are TERRIBLE at that, and I think that’s one of the cool things you get out of FRC.

It’s especially hard on the teams in my area, because many parts are only available from the US and the shipping times and customs fees are atrocious, but it teaches the teams to prioritize, plan ahead, etc.

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The more I think about it, the more I like this idea. I’m not sure exactly whether releasing the game piece early would be ideal, but having teams work on problems which will be relevant to the game will likely lead to a smoother build season and a more positive experience.

I can see those kind of exercises becoming great training for new students, because the time-cost of failure is low and even a “meh” bit of off-season development on a relevant topic puts you in a better condition to improve during build season.

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