Hey everyone!

Pretty simple question, really - why do you come back every year?

I know everyone’s been asked at least once why they continue to do robotics or be involved with FIRST, and if you’re on this forum, then chances are you stay involved, but why?

At least personally, I’ve been involved with FIRST since FLL, and even today I come back because it seems like magic when I write code that makes the robot drive/shoot/intake/center/etc.

How about you?


These days, it’s the humor and satire from @troy_dietz that keeps me coming back. Honestly though, robots are cool, the people who work with them are cool (my students included), and after almost 20 years I’m still having fun and learning new things.


It’s always been the people for me. Of course, I love actually getting to design and build stuff and watch the robot come to life, but it’s the community that’s built around that passion that keeps me coming back every year. That community is most apparent at competitions with all the cheering and excitement and team spirit that comes whenever we manage to pull off a win, but you also find it at the small moments: at the quick lunches during a long Saturday meeting or on a late night car ride the Friday before a comp when everyone just geeks out talking about the bot. It’s always been those small things for me.


I don’t have some idea in my mind about one amazing experience I’ve had (like many do) that encapsulates why I do it. I just enjoy working on things and competing and being surrounded by the team while doing it all. Pretty simple for me.

Also I have an addictive personality so

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The people.

The cool things that happen.

The ability to give students a jump-start on learning life skills.


I’m just here trying to relive my high school glory days.

Helping to educate the next generation of STEM professionals is also a pretty good motivator.


It’s fun.


Gonna sound a lil shallow here, but first thing that comes to mind is getting to play with cool toys. Mill, lathe, router, printers, dozens of misc. handtools, CAD/CAM and of course robots themselves.
I never really had the weird/cool uncle with a woodshop or related*, so it was just LEGO, K’nex, Erector sets, and maybe some PVC. Once I could thoroughly think out a way to do or make something, but couldn’t actually do it, I was usually pretty annoyed. I think I’ve had a 3D printer since I was 14 or so, but that only goes so far.
Being presented with a problem and immediately having the ability and means to solve it in at least one way is entirely too addicting.

Of course, I’ve met some pretty awesome people too (I’m sure @Joy4201 will chime in at some point) that help me realize other things about myself, and trying to recreate the experience I was blessed with for other students is enjoyable in its own right.
We even have racing-style community drama, but that’s a whole other thing.

End of the day, this is basically legal go-kart building in SoCal with some extra STEM thrown in.

*yes the plan is to be that weird uncle to someone.


I believe that, as a society, we have to problem solve better than we have been recently.

A big chunk of that starts with making sure society is filled with people who are good at problem solving.

I’m doing what I can to help with that.


It’s always a struggle to explain to people that this “high school robotics” thing we do, is often more engaging, challenging, and rewarding, than most of the engineering/leadership opportunities offered in our higher education and career. All that, plus the competitive aspect of a team sport, robotics is a blast.


My high school team drastically changed my life - they gave me a real social opportunity that I felt welcome at, and they helped me discover a passion for computer science and general engineering. To be very open, they also helped greatly when I was struggling with serious depression, as it distracted me from myself and gave me something to focus on and feel excited about. I really wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today without my team.

So why do I come back? To give kids the same (or a better!) opportunity as I had. The program has helped me so much that I don’t want kids to have to trudge through high school without also having the same opportunity.


The altruistic answer? FRC changed my life, trying to give that back is a joy.

The slightly more truthful answer? Because it’s fun and I don’t know how to quit if I tried… and I’ve tried.


So many of our alumni come back and visit and tell us that they had this grandiose idea of what college engineering clubs and projects were gonna be only to find that none of them are as enjoyable or challenging as being on an FRC team is.

On one hand, I agree that FRC is extremely fun, but on the other hand, I’d really like to see collegiate programs that are just as exciting if not more exciting than FRC that not only keep college students engaged and learning, but also keep them from jumping back into FRC to be super high schoolers.


I suppose I never really left, so it never felt like I was coming back.

But really, it’s because FIRST is, in the purest sense, something that fulfills me. It’s something I can walk into every day and know I’m making a difference. I’m changing people’s lives for the better.

“Hey Carl, you’re a really good mentor, thank you.”

I think that was one of the best moments in my life.

No matter what ups or downs there are, I feel like it’s a place I can completely and utterly be myself and continue to do so. I didn’t quite because I love to teach, problem solve, and give back to the community that gave me so much.

I love you guys so much, you can’t even begin to believe it.


This was 14 years ago, my senior year:

It’s odd to think, after so many years, I’m still chasing the excellence I saw first-hand, nearly half a lifetime ago. Eric’s example, and that of many mentors and peers in this community and in my life, have kept me coming back and pushing further.

What we do here really matters, and I truly believe that at my core.



My mom made me join the robotics club in 9th grade and I don’t know if I’m allowed to stop.


After a hard 9-hour day learning stuff from more experienced engineers, it’s fun to head over to the school and teach stuff to less experienced engineers.

Also I like having a bunch of Haas machines to play with.


Whelp, I guess I got called out so I should say something…
I started in FIRST because I wanted to learn something new and meet people as I was in a new district. Before my freshman year ended, I was very much addicted to FIRST (still am…). As I moved up in team leadership, my reasons for being in FIRST began to expand. Yes, I still want to learn. Even as a mentor, I get to learn new programs and things, even if it’s just so I can try to help the students. Back to the point, as I moved up in student leadership and now as a mentor, I came back because I knew I could make a difference. I came back because I had an amazing freshman year where I felt included and had many of the older students teach me so much, and I saw how that completely changed my career trajectory and wanted to offer that to younger students. I came back because I saw problems, and I knew I could help to fix them. I came back as a mentor because 1) I got sent back home to do all my classes and all the engineering clubs kind of just stopped so I got bored and 2) because again, I knew I could make a difference. I go to the places where I see the most need from CAD to team organization to awards writing and with a focus on the students more than the actual projects themselves.
Oh, and I keep mentoring entirely too many FLL teams because it’s really, really fun, and when the students get that bright look in their eyes as they finally figure it out or when the students start dying of laughter because the robot went horribly, horribly wrong… and you can’t get them to stop for at least an hour… ah yes, good times.


As someone who was part of an FLL team, and did laugh when the robot crashed and burned and did have those moments where I get what I’m supposed to be learning, it’s you guys who really made me want to keep going with FIRST. I’ve mentored a few FLL teams throughout high school, because I want to be the person teaching and laughing right along with the kids. Good times indeed :).

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I started on my team in 2005-6 with Aim High, it was crazy fun, I stuck with it till I graduated in 2009, and while on the team our mentors inspired us to volunteer, so I stuck with that when I graduated, it was a community for me, and I quite like helping others. When I graduated university in 2015, I moved to Turkey to run my family foundation and make this happen here.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words - well, this one is worth a million.

This is a 2015 Turkish Off-Season Aim-High robot with a trash-can shooter on a low frame that I don’t recall seeing an intake on when it was at the event. But that doesn’t matter, it’s this kid’s robot. He did it. It moves, it does what he wanted it to, and he’s proud. He and his team didn’t have a school bus to get them to the competition, so they dragged the robot on Metrobüs(our extremely overcrowded (1million people/day) BRT) and got it to Ülker Arena to Compete.

This kid, and the thousands like him, are why I stick with it.