What to do for events? HELP!


My team right now is trying to decide what events we should attend. We are in the LA, CA area. We currently have $6100 for this coming year. An additional $4200 is locked away for future savings. We will be getting $1000 more very soon making for $7100. We are confident we will raise at least another $5000. That would bring us to $12,100.

That amount is good enough for registration for two regionals, building a $3000 robot, and having $100 left over for pizza to celebrate when we win.

However, left out of this figuring is the cost of transportation and rooms. The rooms can be payed for by the students, but the transportation must be payed for by the team to avoid excessive individual cost. Say our home regional is LA, (pretty close to us) and our second regional is Phoenix, a six and a half hour drive. There is no way the school would let us take private cars so we would have to have a coach bus like we did last year.

Here’s the dilema
The bus costs about $3500 to have it entirely ours for three and a half days with a driver. Last year, this was payed for from ROP (Regional Occupational Program) money. This year, we don’t get that money because we don’t have anyone who is ROP ceritified to teach the robotics class at our school. So, we wan’t to find someone who has been an engineer for at least two years in the past five years to get registered with ROP so we get a free bus pretty much. The real only purpose of this person would be to get the free bus to Phoenix/San Jose/Sacramento.

So, we want to have a bit more fun than just one home regional so here’s a few options we’ve thought of. Add robot costs of $3K to every plan. Rooms are payed for by those traveling.

  1. Go to ONLY a traveling regional - Phoenix, Sacramento, or San Jose. Cost, $5K registration, $3.5K bus. Total - $8.5 K

  2. Go to LA and an off-season traveling like CalGames or IRI. Cost $5000 registration+$300 offseason registration+transportation to offseason ? Total - $5300 + transportation.

  3. Go to LA AND Phoenix but find an engineer to get certified with us so we get a free bus. Cost - $9000 registration for both events.

  4. Go to LA and Nationals some how raising enough money for the flight there and transportation while we are there. The costs would be $9K in registration and enourmous travel costs.

Obviously Choice 3 seems the best but we would have to find somebody to get certified so we get the free bus.

How to we tell an engineer “We’d like you to join us but we don’t need your help, only the money your certification brings us.” That’s probably not an easy thing to do and have work.

This is really a big decision my team has to make and I value any input from anyone here. We are a fourth year team. We have attended the LA regional our first two years and the LA and Phoenix regionals last year. We have never gone to Cal Games, IRI, or the Championship.

Would somebody please help me piece together the best plan or at least make some plans more presentable for my team.

Thanks a lot.

*Originally posted by sanddrag *
**How to we tell an engineer “We’d like you to join us but we don’t need your help, only the money your certification brings us.” That’s probably not an easy thing to do and have work.B]

Um, why wouldn’t you want the extra help? Alot of teams would kill to have an extra engineer (or even just one engineer).

If you asked me to just put my name on a piece of paper so you could get some money, I’d tell you what to do with your paper. However, if you asked me to help out and explained your motivation, I’d be much more sympathetic to your situation.

It’s all in how you approach the person.


Using an engineer just for paper work is an incredible waste of a valuable resource. This raises once again the old engineer vs non-engineer team debate. From Sandrag’s post it is pretty clear which camp he’s in.

Engineering is more than knowing how to design a gear box or lift or other element of the robot. It is also about managing the project and making sure it gets done on time and on budget. This is a skill that cannot be taught from a book. You must learn on the job.

At least one company I know sends young engineers out to unsuspecting FIRST teams so the engineer can learn this skill in the cheapest way possible. This company also usually sends money with the engineer, and from their point of view the few thousand they spend is worth not loosing millions on a screwed up program later.

While it is perfectly possible for a team to do well in competition without engineering help, part of the purpose of FIRST is to inspire some of you to become engineers. How can you be inspired if you do not understand what an engineer does, and how can you know what they do if you don’t hang around one for a while?

I’d say get an engineer who can qualify and put him to work. You don’t even know enough about what you don’t know to understand how much you’ll learn by doing so. If you’re wise enough to be interested PM me and I’ll see about some referals.