The White House AID

FIRST Community,

On July 4th, 2012, FIRST shall host the 24 teams of the 2012 Championship Division Finalists and Winners at the White House for a one day competition on the South Lawn. The event will be broadcast around the globe on NASA Television. We choose to compete in front of the President of this United States because the challenge is one that we are willing to accept and one we are unwilling to postpone.

Before you get too excited, this is just a proposal to help get our FMS/Robot System issues resolved and to promote FIRST. It is called the White House Arbitrary Inflexible Deadline (AID). We have used Arbitrary Inflexible Deadlines very successfully in the past. One of the most famous is, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” Of course, another AID that is near and dear to our hearts is SHIP DATE!

The White House AID should go a long way to ensuring that we have a successful 2013 season. This will give us more than eight weeks to solve “the technical problems that affected the final matches at our Championship”; WOW, that seems like a long time!

What do you think?,

Where’s the like button…

Ambition is not a quality you are lacking, I will give you that. However there are many issues and challenges I believe you are overlooking by stating this goal.

One of which is getting 24 robots and drive teams, and a FIRST legal competition field, to the South Lawn of the White House. Oh and booking the White House South Lawn on Independence Day.

As cool as this would be I don’t see it as being very practical, or for that matter, very beneficial to anyone. Why not take a whole off season to fix a problem instead of 8 weeks?
Lets move on from 2012 and get focused on getting all of our ducks in order for the 2013 season.

I hope to see you at IRI.

-James T. Austin

Interesting idea, a few questions:

Would the alliances be fixed? Or would there be qualification matches and alliance selections?

What if teams are unable to attend? What if it’s raining?

Kind of missing the point. The White House thing is a canard; the deadline is the real proposition here.

If FIRST commits to fix it in 8 weeks, and it’s fixed in 8 weeks, great, everyone can get on with their off-season. If not, there’s still lots of time to try new things; at least we’ll expect a status report by July. But if we give them 8 months, they’ll more than likely take 8 months. At that point, if it isn’t fixed, people aren’t going to be happy.

Pressure much?


I think focusing on the results of a 12 week old game is a canard.

The point of FIRST is to inspire students to pursue fulfilling careers. I think parading a failed control system in front of the White House on a National Stage would be counter productive to that goal.

While I agree that the problems teams have had with the control system is a serious issue that needs to be addressed I do not think this proposal would yield a productive result.

Let’s let FIRST deal with the issue in the time that they see is fit, and then if you don’t like how it’s been dealt with you can voice you’re complaint or, if you feel your complaint hasn’t been given enough attention, you can leave the program.

-James T. Austin


Many an engineering competition has intermediate deadlines. NASA’s Lunabotics has 6 or seven, depending on whether you’re an international team or not. Many times, a deadline will have multiple items due. (For example, the one on 4/23 had two required items and one optional item due. A week later, two required items were due.) My senior design class has 7 progress reports, two design reports, and a design fair poster spread over two semesters. Also, taking the FE counts towards your grade–and it’s only offered twice a year. SAE’s Aero Design only has two–initial registration, and the design report. (Neither count includes the competition itself, FYI.)

See Parkinson’s Law. If FIRST gives themselves a timeline of 8 weeks to find and fix the problem, that may be too little. But if they have a deadline that they will report to the entire FRC community what their status is, and preferably have the problem isolated and/or solutions developed, there will be a report at 8 weeks, 9 at the absolute latest.

They can have the entire offseason. But I really think that they should have intermediate deadlines, say once a month, to try to get official information out as to status.

The White House has nothing to do with this. Again, the only point is that FIRST should resolve this immediately, not take all year to "resolve’ it, only for teams to find out that it isn’t actually resolved.

That would make more sense.

While this would probably be the most epic thing I would watch in my life thus far, there are a few problems that I see:

One, if FIRST claims to have “solved” a problem with the FMS/whatever else could be wrong and the robots work completely fine in this proposed competition, FIRST may lay back and claim it fine, when it still may not be. The huge problem with fixing this problem is that the problems are intermittent. Anyone with a programming background of some sort will tell you that intermittent problems that you can not reproduce in a controlled environment are hell to solve in a decently large system such as the FMS and robot code base.

Two, the problem may not be able to be solved in 8 weeks. If 4 weeks in, FIRST discovers that the FMS code is so unusable at this point that it just needs a complete rewrite, it will take months to complete. Could it be completed before competition season? Of course. But not 4-8 weeks.

I believe a decent way to aid in solving this problem is to have FIRST open source everything. In our community of Graciously Professional students, mentors, engineers, etc., flaws in the system could be found and solved pretty quickly. Then the community and FIRST would just have to look at hardware failures as the second possible source.

With this open sourcing idea, teams may even be able to aid in creating better diagnostics tools on both the robot and FMS side of things.

Love the 8 week deadline. I’d start by shipping out VEXnet controls to the 24 teams and their choice of EasyC or RobotC software … but I digress :wink:

I am looking forward at the least to documentation of how the FMS works that are promised to be released this summer according to the FIRST Live session. A rematch on Independence Day for the U.S. sounds interesting.

I seriously just did the same thing…

Do we really want to open this can of worms? I realize some teams may feel jilted at the altar, but any attempt to crown ‘the true champions’ (and dress it up however you’d like, but that’s what this is) is insulting to all Einstein teams involved.

(I know it’s not about the rematch - just like FIRST isn’t about the robots.)

If this is set up as an exhibition, with alliances NOT equal to A-C-G-N, then that may be permissible.

edit: Let me be clear: I agree with the overall AID concept 100%.

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. 16, 25, and 180 deserved to win, and they did. I think the only way to set this up without angering anyone would be to set it up as an exhibit for people to see, with random matchups between the 24 teams. Almost like making a new event, but with no actual competition involved. All teams would be doing their best to show off FIRST, not to regain champions.

Even then, I’m a little iffy on this. I like it, but still have my doubts.

For those that don’t get this:
The entire suggestion of a demo at the White House is just to get you reading. The real point is the arbitrary deadlines.

While doing a demo at the White House would be cool, and inviting all the teams on Einstein would be a nice gesture, I highly doubt that that will happen. There just isn’t enough time to pull it together unless someone started already.

Lucien, you need to get a little less subtle sometimes. It took me multiple reads–and to some extent, Tristan’s post–to figure out what you were really saying.

I also agree with the concept of this, but it is just like all the talk about all the replaying Einstein. This should be out of the question, there are too many variables in replaying it. If we play without the same alliances, then i am perfectly fine with the idea, but otherwise it is going to look bad on everyone’s part if it does not end exactly as it did on Einstein.

I wish this was real. This could be amazing.

I’m with Pat on this one.

Something like this could work like the Titanic:

Thinking big, living large…and end up really hard to salvage.