Vote to change the format of FIRST. Part 2

I have read through the whole original post and would like to do another poll to see what people really want and maybe we could all meet in the middle and make things a little better for everyone.

Please put what would you like to see optimally done, not what you think can be done. Make your choice and let FIRST explain why they can’t do it. It is FIRST job to make things work. I think we have argued all the extremes in the other thread. Please take a moment to read everything completely before replying.

Here are my opinions. Maybe people could comment in this format and not have it turn into a big argument.

Length of Season:
I would like to see a week taken out of the Season. This would help take a load off everyone. It could also help employers that support FIRST by reducing peoples time away from their normal jobs. A week taken out of the build season could be made up by letting the students work on the robot during the competition season. The kick off could be moved back to take out a week. It was nice starting a week late this year. Another point; I work in a large plant and we have been unable to get people to help because they don’t want to give up the time needed for this competition. We ask them to give what they want and just do a small portion every year. They come to a couple of meetings and see how involved it is and run away. We need change because what we are doing isn’t working for us. Also, just because the robot ships doesn’t mean the work is done, I have always said the season is half over when the robot ships.

Robot work time and competitions:
I would like to see the robots stay in the hands of the teams and let them work on them. I would like at the very least, the amount of time that other teams get to work on there robots when they are at a competition. Though, I would rather be able to work on it constantly to increase the learning the students get. I find that any lag in time (even a couple days) the students are away they get easily distracted and aren’t as engaged. I am on a Michigan team and love the bag and tag. There is something calming knowing where your robot is and being able to look at it. Lol This is why I think differently now that we bag and tag then I used to.

Your post seems to be conflicting.

You’re advocating for the removal of a ship deadline, and for teams to be allowed to work on their robots for the entirety of the competition season…but you want to shorten the six week build to five weeks?

I don’t follow.

If you keep the robot and can work on it anytime, shortening the build season does not accomplish your stated objectives. This proposal would make the effective build season longer, not shorter.

I would like to see the build season stay at the current length. 6 weeks is already a very tight timeline to build a robot on and shortening it further will substantially affect the quality of the robots in my opinion.

I am in favor of the bag and tag system and allowing the robot out of the bag for time equivalent to a regional each week of the competition season. This helps level some, but not all, of the advantages of a practice robot (although those teams have worked hard to get those advantages). This gives team additional time to work on the robot, without making it quite as time consuming as extending the build season.

I’m missing the part where we actually have a choice in this matter.

I would personally like to see leaving the length the way it is, and then do bag-and-tag, with the option to ship if the team didn’t want to bring their robot, or was going across the country. (For example this year, I really don’t think 190 and 233 would really like to drive their robots across the country in bags to compete in L.A. if bagging and tagging was the norm across all events. Just sayin’.)

I honestly don’t understand bringing this stuff up now. Can’t we get through this year before discussing what we need to change?

Could you please explain to me the problem you see with FIRST?
Could you please explain how your proposal will “fix” the problem?

If the problem is that FIRST isn’t fair, then I STRONGLY disagree that’s a problem, and my vote is to leave it alone.

As FRC continues to grow, the costs of “free” shipping that get eaten by FIRST and/or FexEx will only continue to grow. There will be a point where these costs may be too high to continue to justify, and either it will cost teams money to ship robot crates or we will have to switch to bag-n-tag self shipping.

Your average FRC robot will fit into a pickup truck, SUV, or minivan. Chances are that at least one mentor on your team owns such a vehicle and can volunteer to drive the robot to and from events. Being able to work on the robot for three days (the equivalent of a regional competition) would be a nice asset. Honestly, because of the various issues brought about as a result of eliminating the ship date, I’d rank this as the best possible outcome.

As for the teams that want to attend cross-country Regionals, I have two words: road trip! Well, at least for one mentor. And a navigator. And a back seat driver that criticizes that the GPS is wrong and that they know a “shortcut”. And a fourth person, because odd-numbered groups of people never seem right. Multi-day car trips aren’t that bad. I’ve taken more 1000+ road trips than I can count on one hand, and they can be really fun* (as long as you have an EZ Pass).

  • And you don’t drive through northern New Jersey near NYC; seriously, it stinks (the rest of Jersey is fine). :stuck_out_tongue:

This needs to be put in here more than the once that it was posted.

All I would like to see is the rules simplified. There is something like a 50 page thread here on the subject of bolt heads and frame perimeter. Rediculous!
Bruce

we already ship our robot from event to event…

and you should have an option for “there isnt another thing I want to change”
because the only option I checked was “leave the season the length it is”

EDIT: oh, I misunderstood this pole somewhat… the way it was worded along with the topic made it seem like you were saying that you CANT already ship your robot from event to event…

that new rule was kinda a pain in the butt, because it said that you could have bolt heads outside your frame perimeter…
we did not really understand the rule, and could not figure out what was accaptable and what was not.
but my team kept arguing if we should risk it or not, and some people wanted to risk it, and others did not…
we ended up countersinking everything around the perimeter.

That rule, and the new scoring system (Wich I was alerted to when we went 4 and 0 in our first matches at GSR today, and were in 14th… nobody could figure out what was going on, until we were reminded of the new scoring :|)
are a pain in the butt to comprehend and put a definitive opinion on.

The only thing I can think of that I would want changed, is the scoring system…
I want wins/losses back!
other than that, FIRST is perfectly fine the way it is in my opinion…

There are teams which don’t have access to a mini-van (I don’t think the team I currently mentor has one), or are flying to a regional or championships (from another country). Also, I think you’ll have trouble fitting those four people into a van with the robot. I think two might be the limit, plus the extra time it may take a team to drive like that could be more than a two mentors or a mentor/student with a van has to give.

I’ve been on two teams. Not sure if either has a mentor that meets that criteria.

Anyways, I’d say that the other thread pretty well voted down changing the format. From the starting results of this thread, it would seem most are already happy with the direction of FIRST.

I seriously suggest teams that aren’t happy with the way FIRST works, to consider other competitions such as BEST or Battlebots or any other robotics competition. In fact, it doesn’t have to be robotics. The goal is to inspire and teach kids, this can be done through any one of building challenges. Find something wrong within the community and try to figure out how to fix it. I really don’t mean this as a “get out” sentiment. Far from it. I just like everyone to know that there are many opportunities out there for the same thing. I think one of my most educational experiences in high school didn’t come from the robotics team(though many did). This one came from prom. They wanted a giant chandelier for cheap and had no engineers on their committee. I worked for them to get it designed and built all in secrecy within the school. I had a direct customer that could constantly change their minds, a tight constraint on labor, and a tight deadline. I felt like a true engineer.

In short: Stay in FIRST, start another program, but mainly find your own way towards inspiration and education. It will do you far better then trying to play politics or file complaints.

PS: Sorry for not following your suggested pattern, I hope you still find my post worth reading. It should at least make you think.

Amen to that….FIRST has gotten a lot better every year. We used to have to count every fastener in our Build of Materials list and only be able to buy parts from one company. What a pain that was.

I want to keep our kids engaged. Our team falls apart if we don’t meet every day, so the build season and the competition season involves the same amount of work to me. If the robot could be worked on then I could get the kids to learn more than just doing small tasks.

Because I want to get ideas going now because more people are on CD at this time of year. It is all just chat, some people think it is more than that but it isn’t. FIRST has an open discussion every year. I just like getting ideas flowing ahead of that time when people are listening.

I really don’t see a “problem with FIRST” I see potential to make it better. I love FIRST and sometimes am embarrassed in the amount of money and time I spend on it.

I agree with you that the option to ship could be used for teams that need it.
I don’t agree with people arguing that “we can’t take our robot to the events because some teams have to go long distances”. Taking the robot to the events yourself works for 95% of the teams. That is a lot of money saved. The 5% that need to ship their robot can; plan ahead and ship it themselves, go to closer events, or maybe still use fed’s free shipping if available. I believe the 5% will figure it out and the financial burden of shipping will be raised from all of us.
Also how do teams get there tools and stuff to the events? I am sure a little robot can be fit in with all the stuff teams bring.

I am glad that this post is being constructive. I think I went about it the wrong way in the other post. I was trying to get people’s attention and it work but not the way I had planned. Thanks for all the comments and good luck to all.

Of course we can’t. Why complain about the competition later when we can do it now? :wink:

I have to completely agree with you. What we are doing it like walking into Walmart and saving “I don’t like how I have to park my car there, and I don’t like the layout of your store. Oh, and while your doing all that to make me happy. Here is my shopping list.”

Leave it alone. Nothing is wrong with the way things are. My got a robot driving and partly kicking before we so rudely bagged it up. And many others did too. So apparently this system is working great. Why reinvent the wheel?

If it aint broke don’t fix it?
Anyhow, I don’t see any reason to be embarrassed with doing something you love, especially if its volunteering.

My mental image of engineers and programmers was that they constantly try to find problems with their own designs and fix them, right up until the deadline. I’m surprised that so many people here seem to think “complaining” about FIRST is somehow dishonorable or in poor taste. Feedback is critical to any design process, whether for a robot or for a game, and should never be discouraged.

That was surprisingly rational for this thread.

I guess this and the other discussion are proof positive that people don’t like change. What surprises me the most is how angry some people get when you even suggest it.

I like the idea of having more time with the actual robot - I’ve said that for years. I can also see the point that some people feel that they need to be saved from themselves (the proliferation of the rehab industry proves that point).

Here’s one way to compromise:

  • make bag and tag an option for all teams.
  • every team gets ONE fix-it window every week until championships.
  • The fix-it window is 4 hours and cannot be split up.

I think the above compromise accomplishes two big goals:

  • It allows the teams to keep their robots so they don’t have to build a practice bot to keep up with the big boys.
  • It allows people that need to be saved from themselves to only have to work one day per week (keep the spouses happy) and only 4 hours in that session (no late night on the fix it window).

Conversations like this one always seem to be full of imaginary constraints. The suggestion (Molten’s) to try other at other programs if FIRST doesn’t satisfy all of your needs shows that at least a few people can see past some of those imaginary boundaries; as does the existence of a few Chief Delphi Forums and threads about programs other than FIRST’s.

In an attempt to evaporate one of the illusions let me suggest that groups who want to spend more time with their robots can spend just about as much time as they want after FIRST’s competition season ends. Work on it all you like then. Go to as many off-season events as you like. Start as many off-season events as you like.

Be satisfied and proud when the improved machine works better and better as you put into it everything you can once time constraints are gone. Focus on what is accomplished in the the labors of love and in the conquering or personal challenges; not on whether some judge who hears you attempt to cram a year of successes into a 15 minute presentation likes what they hear, or on the machine’s performance during a single weekend.

Maybe FIRST doesn’t need to charge (maybe it does). Instead maybe we need to change and look past FIRST instead of into it.

Let’s change a community and a culture, not a single non-profit organization.

Respectfully,
Blake