Why do we do this anyway?

Its very easy at this time of year to get wrapped up in the game, rulings, designs, etc. Lets take a moment to answer one simple question.

Why do YOU do this?

I’ll start.

I do this because when I was 13 years old, a group of the most wonderful people I have ever known, my mentors, took me as not just a student, not just a team member, but as family. To this day, they have welcomed me with open arms each time I have seen them. Last year, when I was going through the toughest moments of my life (my mother’s fight and eventual passing from cancer), they allowed me to come and spend time with them as they built a robot any time I needed to get away.

I do this because I want to pass that amazing experience I received from them on to another group of wonderful people, my students. I do this for the Saturdays where we spend a whole day together joking about senseless things while wiring different parts of the robot. I do this because every time one of them reminisces about something FIRST related, I know that something good has stuck. I do this because I know they will each use something from this program that is worthwhile. I know this because I have time and time again.

I do this because I love the competition. I love meeting new people. I love seeing the magic of the lights, cameras, and music. I love the drama of the finals.

I do this because its awesome.

Why do you do this?

The question is “why not”? Are there any reasons why one should not participate? At least the reasons that would outweigh the positive aspects of the program. I can not think of any. That is my response.

Said perfectly!! I do this because of what it did for my son. He went from a geeky kid who the people at school said would never amount to anything due to learning disabilities. He is now our team engineer!!! He is still a geek but this coach/mentor/Mom LOVES geeks!!!

i do this for the fun, i do this for the comradery, i do this because i love the idea, i do this for the joy of competing with something that i have but my blood sweat and tears into, i do this because i love the people i work with, i do this because of those weekends i spend in the shop trying to prove im not insane and that that wheel really should be touching the ground, i do this because who wants to study when you can wrench on a robot, i do this because it is amazing to go to competitions and compete with so many people who love this as much as i do, i do this because it is an amazing experience.

and the only thing i see as a disadvantage to those long hours of hard work is a little less time to spend with my girlfriend

Well, we have a “Septemberfest” here in a park that’s pretty big. Stands are set up everywhere and its pretty awesome. My last year in middle school I went there and saw a stand for one of the FIRST teams from the local schools (Of the 3 high schools, 2 at the time had FRC teams, and the one I was headed for was the one without it). It was the 07 (Rack N roll) robot they had out on display, driving it around with a donation bucket in its claw. They asked what high school I was going to and I said west, and they explained how the other schools had a team and they were trying to start one at west. Long story short, the next school year I happened to stop at a water fountain in my new school and found a robotics poster above it. If it wasn’t for that, I woulda just took a sip and kept on walking. But now here I am four years later, my life completely changed.

Why do I do this???

The changes I see in kids from year to year and over the years.

The excitement in their voices and the stars in their eyes.

The lives I’ve seen changed because of their experiences with FIRST.

Because the first time I walked into Stuyvesant I saw the robots and immediately thought about making a robot to take over the world, and that it was a good place to start this “First” thing. I also thought “FIRST” robotics was like “Intro to robotics” and was concerned… took a while before someone explained it was an acronym haha.

Now I do it because it’s fun, and there’s always a new thing to fantastically fail mid build season.

And seriously, would you really give up your weekends and vacation if it were anything else?

You know, I was asked something similar while being interviewed for our Chairman’s submission, and at least in my opinion it’s a very thought provoking question.

I do this for the relationships I’ve formed. I do this because three years ago I was a lonely young man, awkward around people and trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be, and now I have a group of like minded friends that I can be around without feeling like I have to be someone I’m not. Because there was a time when I couldn’t find a reason to leave my house most days, assuming I felt it was worth getting up to begin with. This program has done more than just teach me about business, or engineering, or problem solving. It may have been the technical aspect that brought me in, but it’s everything else that keeps me here.

I do this because one day at school, I saw a poster about this “robotics team” that went to Disney World to compete, and I went to a meeting. It was a short meeting, one I’m not even sure lasted 15 minutes, but right then and there I was hooked, and I never looked back.

I do it for the great stories and experiences its given me, and the joy of sharing them with new friends and a new generation of kids just like I was then.
I do this for the challenge of solving an incredible design problem, and the magic and thrill of the competition.
I do this because of all the amazing people I’ve met along the way, some I am proud to call my closest friends and greatest role models.
I do this to see the light in one of my students’ eyes when they finally “get it”.

I do this to give something back in return for all the opportunities it has given me, and taken me to a place and a career I love and would have never dreamed I’d be in.

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I have a long list of reasons that I do this, that I will post sometime when I’m more awake. But this one was the biggest reminder that I’ve gotten in a long, long time why I do this.

I was reffing an FLL competition. A team of several young girls, no older than 10 or 11, comes up to my table. They were very enthusiastic about the whole thing, particularly the two at the table running the robot, despite not having the greatest robot in the world. It only went for about 145 points, out of 400. But on this run, most everything fell right for them. And the girls were psyched.

The way things normally work, the ref just checks off a series of boxes, without calculating any scores. But these girls were so excited about their run, that they wanted their score now. Normally, ref’s aren’t supposed to do this, but I decided to be nice, take the 15 seconds or so to tally their points, and told them that they’d gotten a 130.

It wasn’t much. But they went berserk, hugging each other, high-fiving me, and just generally being the most excited people I’ve ever seen. They might have just saved someone’s life. Well, if you take the task descriptions of FLL literally, they did.

That was the highlight of the day, until I left. As I left, I walked past one of the girls who had been at the table, talking to her dad. And as I passed, I overheard “I used to want to be a ballerina, but now I want to be a ballerina, and a Biomedical Engineer.” Dad smiled.

Mission, accomplished.

I do this because I love to watch people get excited about the stuff that’s going to save the world someday, and doing what I can to get them there.

I do it to better myself and others. I’ve become more confident, I’ve become a leader, and I’ve become member of a family who has me covered in every situation I could dream of. After seeing how much this program has benefited me, I want to see the same thing happen with others, students and mentors alike. This has given me more opportunities and has opened my mind to the engineering world, which I had been totally closed to before December of my freshman year.

I also do it for the competitions and the people. Seeing so much inspiration and joy and teamwork and love at the competitions brings tears to my eyes. Also, seeing a product of my own actions on the field makes me feel more proud of myself than any school project could. And with the people I’ve met, I could ramble for hours about how much they mean to me. I don’t know what my life would be like if I hadn’t met the people I know now, and I treasure and build upon that every day.

Touche, sir.

I started doing this because I thought I would learn some things, make a few friends, and get to skip some classes to go hang out at the competitions.

After 6 years I do this because every day I wonder where I would be if I hadn’t started.

I do this because I want everyone in the world to have the opportunities to learn what my mentors taught me.

I do this because I love the feeling of accomplishing my goals, and helping others to accomplish theirs.

I do this because I see kids who feel like they’re outcasts or misfits or shutouts find a group of peers they can relate to and learn with.

I do this because I truly believe the world would be a much sadder place without FIRST.

I blame it on my daughter’s 4th grade teacher, lo these many years ago. She said, “I really think B… should be on the team.” (It was near the beginning of FLL; they didn’t compete that year but did compete in Volcanic Panic the next year.) It snowballed from there. As Dean says, you get sucked in …

After 4 years of FLL, she moved on to FRC. My wife and I thought we ought to give a little something back, and volunteered to work at the FLL state championship; we kept technical judging on time! 7 years later we’re still at it, reffing and judging, because we think the program is so good for the kids.

In her first year at FRC, we found that just watching from the stands is really boring, especially on Thursday. So I started volunteering in FRC as well - pit admin, queuing, and eventually refereeing. Again, I keep with it because I like working with the kids, and can see how much this program can do to help kids.

My mum always had denied me Lego League, and no matter how much I wanted to play, she said no.

So in high school, she said I could join anything I wanted.

The ‘FIRST’ thing I found was robotics.

A few of my friends were joining the team, and I figured I had nothing to lose.

… Yet again, guess who was wrong?

That year, between homework, building a robot, Getting chased by 2 colour tracking robots, discovering Lime green and maroon are BAD colours to wear next to Lunacy targets, I fell in love with this program.

I made so many new friends, met people from across the state [and Canada, we didn’t go to nationals] that I am now a 3 year Vet on my school’s 3 teams [The RoboDawGs] and I know I still have much to learn. But time’s a wasting! I have practice in a half hour! I must be off!


I do it because I know the ten to fifteen graduates we have each year have the potential to become great citizens and have fun in a career that they love. And even if only one of those each year, helps someone else in their lifetime, it will have been worth it. There is nothing like the feeling you have when you impart knowledge to someone and they then pass it on to others. We get to see that all the time.

I’ve had many reasons to do this but one of the main reasons is falling in love with the community and people involved in FIRST. It is amazing how much support and confidence you can gain by being involved in FIRST. In the big scheme of things, today, I am solely involved because I have a chance to make an impact of some sort and network with some of the coolest nerdy people on the planet.:smiley:

To add, these students also have talents and dreams that they can take the time to explore and develop on the team.

And… there are mentors/potential mentors who have found or can find a place to explore and develop their skills, talents, and dreams alongside the students, finding a group that they can relate to and learn with/from.

It’s very special.


I do this because it is a fun learning expericnce for me.:smiley:

What? Wait, why isn’t your girlfriend on the team?

I got hooked on FIRST the first time I went to the LA Regional. The amazing talent, enthusiasm, spirit, GP that I saw from those teams impressed me so much. I keep coming back because FIRST is like a string you keep pulling and every pull brings into your life something more amazing than the last pull.

Not all of us had our wives get us involved Rich :wink: Some people just aren’t interested…

For me, I do this because it is the only place I feel somewhat normal and because our students really love it.