I think that I have an unusual story as to how I got involved in FIRST.
And I’m pretty sure that it isn’t normal proceedure. So I was wondering,
How did you get involved in FIRST?
Whether you’re a mentor or a student, a volunteer or a teammate, FRC or FLL, how did you get involved?
And if you were wondering my story;
When I was in 6th grade, my mom woke me up one Saturday and my parents and I went to Chicago. I had no idea why we were going, but next thing I know, I’m walking into this arena, with a bunch of kids in matching shirts and robots on a colorful field (Triple Play)('05). I was going to my first regional to watch the robot that my two siblings helped make. It never occured to me before then that they were even on a robotics team (or that such a thing existed!), but I was watching, and it looked like so much fun, and just really cool. Ever since, I’ve been hooked. I pretty much knew as I left the venue that I was going to join the team when I went to high school.
This year (my freshman year) I was at a orientation for my parents at school. During this, there was a marching band member (I am was in marching band too, but I didn’t know them at the time really) asked me if I was taking any drafting classes. I said I was and they asked me if I wanted to join the Robotics team. I guess you can see the rest
My story is actually pretty close to Katie’s, Except I didn’t go to one of my brother’s events. When I got to high school, I decided on East Lake because of the robotics program and got hooked during my freshman season. I am sorry I did not get involved earlier.
I first saw a FIRST robot back in the dark ages… My school, along with about 3 others, had a team in 1997’s Torroid Terror that did a demo at my school. I didn’t pay much attention at the demo… I probably should have.
Then my dad started helping out the (now single-school) team as an engineer in 1998, the last year before alliances. Naturally, I hung out with the team when I could. I remember one of my friends and I cleaning the floor of nuts and washers and passing them to the sorters. That’s kind of how it went from then to 2000. Then the team changed locations, so I couldn’t hang out at the shop any more.
2001 and 2002, I went to competitions, as I’d been doing since SVR started (anyone else remember the blimp hangar we were in the first year?). I’d gone to the 1999 and 2000 SVR events, and the 2000 Orlando competition (also known as: Nationals).
For the 2003 season, the team leadership decided to allow 8th grade students on the team under certain conditions, which I met. (Later, the age went back up.) I, of course, jumped at the chance and got to work, as I was in 8th grade that year. Back to hanging out at the shop… but this time, I was actually working.
back in 2006, I saw an add for my team(1557) and called up one of our mentors Lee Johnson…then I found out that it was only for highschool grades’ so I kinda forgot about it untill next year when I saw another one in the paper
I joined robotics club with my friends because I’m a geek. I didn’t join FIRST until around the end of my freshman year, during my first Championships. It was at that point where I “got it”. It’s been a wild ride since then just for joining the school robotics club.
My team had a demo with their stack attack bot at my freshman orientation. I was really interested because robots are awesome, so I signed up to join the team. However, I forgot about it and didn’t end up going until one of my friends invited me to one of the meetings several weeks later.
I first fount out about FIRST when I was my my boyscout meetings (I made it all the way to Eagle), I noticed that all of my older friends (freshman at the time) where coming into the meetings late. After a few weeks I asked why they where always late, they told me about first and for 3 long years all I wanted to do was FIRST. Finally my Freshman year of High School came around and I got on the team asap. I went from a Rookie Welder for Team 145 to one of the more influential members of the team by the time I was done with my Student career. When I moved to Orlando, I didn’t want my FIRST career to be over so I started asking around about teams in the area and became a College mentor for 1902.
I know I gave my whole FIRST history, but it was because of my older friends talking about FIRST and getting me hooked that started the madness I love.
The robotics team is basically the only extracurricular at my school so I always knew about it. But then I found out that you got to go on trips for the competitions, so I joined. After the first year I returned not only for the traveling but mainly for the robots and different learning opportunities.
I’ve been around the Bomb Squad since 2001 (I think) so I pretty much grew up with the team. (FIRST is a way of life at my house.) I have always known I would be on the team one way or another and there was no escaping. So after a year and a half of being in FIRST officially, I am pretty much addicted.
I was about to write a massive post until I realized it became my entire first history. So here’s the shorter version.
In 2006, my “house parent” (live in mentor at a boarding school I went to) wanted me to try out robotics, so I joined the FVC team the school started. We ran into our share of problems, but what really got me going was the competition. The frenzy of scrambling to get our robot together, then helping out other teams witht he same problems while talking to a wide variety of kids was amazing. We ended up being 8th seed and losing right away.
It’s what motivated me to start a team with my friend and my dad in 2007, FTC 63 “The Rebels”. The idea is that we both left our boarding school for various reasons, so we were joining to compete with them (that and our love of the competition). We really had no idea what we were doing, so we showed up with a barely working robot. My teammate and I had a fight and she quit while I proceeded to take apart our robot to try and salvage the chassis.
At this point, a team I helped out from Wisconsin Lutheran High came by and helped me out. I was 5 seconds from quitting and they wouldn’t let me. Finally we got the four wheeled… thing on the field and I ended up helping out in every match with strategy. I was the third pick of the 1st seed alliance and long story short I qualified for Atlanta entirely because of the brilliant amazing kids in Wisconsin Lutheran.
Right there I knew that I couldn’t quit FIRST, it was WAY too much fun. Luckily, one of the event volunteers was on an FRC team with Vex parts so they agreed to let me use theirs to compete in Atlanta. Long story short, everything in Atlanta went wrong, but I had fun the whole way through, and then the FRC team invited me to join them for 2008-9 I just couldn’t say no. Every single hour long drive to the shop is worth it.
I actually got dragged into FIRST through Girl Scouts. About mid-2007, I got a flyer in the mail advertising a robotics program for girls. It was mostly targeting FLL-age kids (there’s a zillion Girl Scout FLL teams in the area) but it did have something for people my age. My mother convinced me to apply to join, and I went along with it, thinking that it would be another generic activity that would be over in a month or two.
That “something” turned out to be one of the first Girl Scout FTC teams - Team 25, the Rock-n-Roll Robots. That first year, we had 7 girls and 3 mentors. One of the girls was a former member of Robodox, and one of the mentors was a former member of WildStang. Nobody else had much FIRST experience or (in the case of the girls, myself included, any robotics or engineering experience whatsoever) any robotics experience whatsoever. We had a rough start in the beginning, placing dead last in our first competition, but after a huge re-design we went on to take 2nd place at two regionals plus winning the Inspire Award (equivalent to Chairman’s in FTC) and qualifying for Atlanta. And then when we got to Atlanta, not only did we win an award, we also ended up taking second place.
That something inspired me to join my school’s rookie FRC team the same year. That was a whole different experience; we had trouble with mentors and funding and our first year was not so great, but we won the Rookie All-Star Award at our regional and in the process got inspired by all the other teams out there.
That something opened up a whole new world for me. It let me find something I love to do, and it let me make friends and it let me be part of FIRST, something which I will never give up.
Things have come a long way since then; 2429 was proud to be a picking alliance at Los Angeles this year (even if we did lose in the first round), while Rock-n-Roll is coming back to Atlanta after being a strong force at every regional we’ve attended. And I am so incredibly glad that I got that flyer in the mail.
The reason her mom got involved and “forced” the FIRST lifestyle on all 3 of her kids is more interesting:
The nicest man in the world told me he wouldn’t be a very good husband because he had “a thing for robots.” Not to be deterred by this admittedly bizarre attempt to avoid commitment, I decided to investigate this “hobby” of his. He even signed me up to volunteer at our FLL tournament the weekend before our wedding. It was about the most fun I had ever had…poor guy…