I joined my FRC team after the 2018 season. During the off season, I had a great time. I contributed to the off season robot a lot, and peoples ideas were actually considered.
Now on kickoff day, things changed. One of our “mentors”, who we rarely saw during the off season was there. And not only there, but running the show. He took control over everything. The first day was devoted to “reading the rules”. And while I think that the 6 hours we met for after the game was announced was too long to spend on rules, I understood why. But the conversation had to be only rules. Anytime anyone mentioned anything related to the design of the robot was met with a quick “no talking about robot design!” before you could get more than 3 or 4 words out. Which didn’t make sense to me, if our goal is to build a robot, why shouldn’t we talk about how the rules would affect our robot?
We met again today, which was supposed to be a strategy and robot design day. This same mentor wrote out his whole strategy on the board, which was to stay low and not worry about the rockets. We took a break shortly after, and many students decided it would be better if we played the entire game, by adding an elevator to our robot. Once we were meeting again, things fell apart. As soon as a few people started talking about their opinion on why we should have an elevator, this mentor came up with reasons our design “wouldn’t work”, even though his reasons were mostly speculative and could easily be remedied through actual CAD work. As soon as the students saw they were getting nowhere, many of the students who had agreed with us just minutes before suddenly didn’t care anymore. When we took a vote to decide, many of those students voted for the “low” plan. This mentor is basically pushing people’s ideas to the side to push his own in.
Later we came up with designs and methods to interface with this year’s game pieces. While brainstorming, a student mentioned an idea he came up with. This mentor made a comment along the lines of “I hope you’re joking, if you’re serious you’re gonna take a lap around the school”. This idea wasn’t a joke, it was a serious one which I thought could work as well. As the meeting progressed, every single design that wasnt exactly what this mentor wanted was excessively critiqued, to the point of criticism that was downright incorrect.
In talking to other students, I learned that it is like this every year. Many believe the mentor already has the entire robot planned out already, and that these proceedings are to give the illusion of control to the students. This rubbed me the wrong way, as the mentors are supposed to help the students design and build the robot, not design it themselves while the students build it.
I am asking on what you guys believe is the best course of action going forward. These two meetings were not fun at all, it felt like we were wasting time while the mentor pushed his own agenda. What should we as a team do?