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Getting to the Championship Part 2 · 27 April 2012

Money is only part of the equation of getting to the championships.  The team also needs to qualify.


When a team first competes at a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), the members are all wide-eyed and are like fish out of water to some extent.  Our team was confident with itself and the robot, but there were so many aspects to the program that our team did not understand.  When we originally started out, we decided we would just take our chances with one event and live with the results, come what may.  We went to our local competition (Seattle regional) and when the team did not qualify for the elimination round and did not get an award, I figured we would start preparing for the next year.  I should have known better.


The students decided they wanted to give up their spring break to try their hand at another qualifier.  The challenge was that it was in two weeks.  There were no funds or transportation, and supervision would be an issue.  As the lead school mentor, I was already committed elsewhere and would not be able to attend with them.  There were several logistical and technical issues (not robot related) that needed to be taken care of before the trip across the state (Spokane regional) could be accomplished.  The school administrator in charge of the program gave the students an impossible set of tasks that needed to be done before the trip could be taken.  While she doubted they could get everything done in the set timeframe (the next day), she found out what determination could accomplish.


Needless to say, the tasks were accomplished and the team went to the Spokane regional competition to try again to qualify for the Championship.  While the team did not make the elimination round again, the students accomplished so much more than they had in Seattle.


In the two weeks between the competitions, several members of the team worked feverishly at putting a second robot to good use.  They worked on the shooter and the software to get things to a point of higher competence than they had achieved in the first competition.  But they also figure out that there was another way to get to the Championships besides being on the winning alliance.


While part of the team worked on the robot, several others worked on the business plan, the safety plan, the website, and other aspects of the whole team concept.  They looked at the criteria for achieving the rookie all-star award and met them.


I really do know what they did to get the coveted award.  They did it all on their own and reaped the rewards.  The judges were impressed that the team had come so far in just two weeks.  (Many of the judges in Spokane were the same as in Seattle.) They saw the leaps and bounds the team made in its focus on aspects other than just the robot.  That attention to detail paid off with the 2012 Spokane Rookie All-Star Award.


The students also made great strides in their approach to team alliances, scouting, networking and game strategy.  Students were talking to members of other teams asking questions and defining who Team 4089 Stealth Robotics is and what the team brings to an alliance.  The team operated as a unit and ended up higher in the rankings than they had in Seattle, but did not make the championship round.  However, the team did get the coveted Rookie All-Star Award and thus qualified for the world championships.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Getting to the Championship · 25 April 2012


Logo by Zach Wynakos


The goal of going to the championships was set in the early meetings.  Each time the students met, they talked about that goal.  And they worked toward it learning as much as they could about robotics and the competition without any assets besides an excited mentor who had helped start many teams.  The students prepared in every way possible except in securing financial support for the trip.  So when Team 4089 Stealth Robotics qualified, it did not have the funds to go.


Not everybody has parents, mentors, and others with deep pockets, but Stealth Robotics does have a few benefactors.  Which is fortunate because the students only had three weeks to get the funding for the trip.  A team of students presented to the local Rotary Club, which came up with a couple pledges.  Not enough for the trip, but the benefactors were confident the students would raise the funds after the fact and fronted much of the costs for the trip.  While this was great for our team, it is not a good model to follow.


Most rookie teams do not have enough benefactors or parents with deep enough pockets to pay the cost of such a huge endeavor as the FRC Championships.  A lesson that I would pass on to any team desiring to go to the Championships is to start fund raising as soon as you decide to have a team.  There are lots of fund raising efforts you could do.  Most people would suggest only doing big fund raisers saying that car washes and other small income efforts will not get the job done.  At least not very quickly.  However, your team needs to do what is best in your community to raise the funds.  So concentrate on what you can do for others such as advertising and promotion of local businesses who support your efforts.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Thriving in Your Rookie FRC Season - Introduction · 25 April 2012


Logo by Zach Wynakos


My team (Team 4089 Stealth Robotics) is going to the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) championships as a rookie all-star team. Making it to the international competition was the goal all along, but I am not sure any of us really thought we could do it. Which is why I figured I had a bit more time to start my book on how to just survive that roookie season. Now, I need to make it a book on how to thrive as a rookie team.


Like any good goal setter, this book is going to start at the end. What I mean by that is that every accomplishment starts with a goal. A goal is not a goal unless it has a date on it, so put down the date of the next championship, if that is your team’s goal. Then, visualize with your team, what that will look like. Then, work to meet the goal. Finally, you need to speak the future into existence. None of the four steps is more important than any of the others, but self talk is the easiest one to derail any endeavor.


I will talk about each of the four aspects of any endeavor in more detail and I will give you my thoughts on how we did things and how we will change things to make our team even better next year. I was going to write it all as a book, but decided it would be better as part of my website for now. Then, if there is enough interest, I will put it out in ebook or even print form. I want others to benefit from our experience. Hopefully, you will be able to relate to my style of writing and coaching. Since I am putting this out there for the whole world wide web to see, please send me any comments.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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