Talk:FIRST Robotics Competition

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Good Sources[edit]

Alright, since wikipedia rules require some sort of citation for everything and this page is dearly lacking in them, I'm trying to compile a list of places where we might possibly get some citations. Here's what I have:

http://robotics.nasa.gov/events/first.php - Webcasts and archived stuff from previous years
http://soap.circuitrunners.com/2007/movies/ - Recordings from the official FIRST feed of various regionals. Includes recordings of awards. Chairman's awards are probably good sources to get the FIRST view on things. May also include speeches by FIRST officials, particularely during awards. Don't cite the SOAP site though (they have limited space and bandwidth). Put it on google video or youtube and provide a link.
news.google.ca - From the usfirst site, here are some good areas:
http://forums.usfirst.org - (moderated forums only): FIRST QA responses to clarify rules. Many responses reveal some official FIRST position on portions of the competition
http://www.usfirst.org/community/frc/content.aspx?id=3520 - Email blast archive for 2007
http://www.usfirst.org/community/frc/content.aspx?id=4094 - Archived game manuals and results from 2002-2006
http://www.usfirst.org/who/content.aspx?id=46 - FIRST tooting their own horn about impact, includes a whole whack of PDFs from a Brandeis University study about FIRST's impact on students
http://www.usfirst.org/who/content.aspx?id=956 - FIRST news releases, vision statements, etc.

Note that all of these are primary sources, and can only be used for descriptive purposes, as per WP:RS. If you want a secondary source, you can always hit up news.google.com and get endless fluff pieces written by reporters. Sometimes they actually contain facts that are correct. Bongle 16:42, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Another good one is http://www.firstwiki.net. Doshindude (talk) 19:24, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Collaboration[edit]

Someone who is pro collaboration should probably go over the collaboration section, as I really don't like collaboration and probably didn't give its supporters a fair shake while writing the portion about it. Bongle 19:48, 24 June 2006 (UTC)


I looked it over and it reads mostly ok to me. FIRST has decided that it is ok and support it. I'm going to edit the ending a bit now. However, should we include the debate? As historical maybe, but the question has been settled by FIRST. JWetzel 19:25, 28 November 2006 (UTC)


I think we should include because a lot of new teams might go to a competition and wonder how it is legal that there are 3 identical robots trouncing the competition. Knowing that it is legal and the rationale behind it is useful information. When I first saw the triplets in action, I had no idea how anyone could imagine that it was fair or legal, but at least now I have an understanding of collaborating teams' explanation. For the same reason we should keep the information about the spectrum of teams (engineer-centric versus student-centric) because for my first two years in FIRST I was at a loss to figure out how/why they were essentially letting companies enter robots in a high school competition. Seeing that it arguably justified by FIRST's mission makes me less mad when I see them winning everything. Bongle 12:33, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

reason for championship event location change?[edit]

Why was the championship event changed from the Epcot Center?


-I believe there was a space issue, but I don't know this for sure and have no source. --Fourpenguins 22:25, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

There were many reasons given, some public and some not. The most often repeated are both space and cost. JWetzel 19:17, 28 November 2006 (UTC)


Original Research[edit]

Many parts of this article, like "scouting" and "team organization" sound like original research. This really needs to be addressed to achieve encyclopedic quality. Verkhovensky 17:09, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

They are known methods. It is not original research.Doshindude (talk) 19:25, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Looking over more of this article, it is dire need of help. I think sections like "collaboration" can be salvaged, but sections like "computerized scouting," though cited, are nothing but an advertisement for a single thing that a single team did. It might be cool, but that doesn't make it encyclopedic. Verkhovensky 17:13, 29 November 2006 (UTC)


Scouting, Collaboration and Team organization are all written by me about what I know about them (and from reading debate threads on Chiefdelphi). I think they're all useful info for someone to have, but I'm not sure how you'd ever get most of this page to be not-original research. Most of the people reading and editing will be FIRST members, and its not like there are many 3rd-party sources to cite. You might be able to cite the FIRST team guide or something, I guess. As for your last point, I agree: most FIRST pages are full of teams advertising their own little sites. Just remove them as fast as they come. Bongle 19:07, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

The FIRST Competition has been extensivley covered in a variety of media, thus offering a plethora of third party sources to cite. OR is simply against Wikipedia policy, even if it seems useful. Content needs to be verifiable, and an informal discussion on an online forum is not acceptable. Verkhovensky 20:09, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Media coverage is practically useless as a source on the inner workings or what to expect at a competition. Almost all media coverage is limited to "a couple high schoolers got together at <location> for a competition", followed by some very limited outline details on FIRST. If CNN quotes some guy saying "this is how you scout", it's not going to be verifiable anyway, since the reporter certainly isn't going to go through a season in order to find out whether or not that is true. To get more in-depth, you either have to use official FIRST publications (which have very little detail on the actual experience or competition strategies), or team whitepapers, which on average are about the same quality as original research. On that note: do you think the team-produced articles would be useful? Many of them are descriptions on how to scout, how to organize, etc. Some of them are pretty well done, but since they are all original research by the teams they may not be kosher.

I wholly understand that OR isn't going to cut it, since I've already seen a few edits on stuff I wrote on collaboration get edited with other people's experience, and since I don't have any real backing for it other than "nuh-uh, I saw it like this" I can't change it back. But do you think it's possible to get sources on things like collaboration or scouting? If not, I guess we'll have to cut them. Bongle 20:57, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

the problem is that team organization is left greatly up to the individual teams. same thing with scouting, each team scouts differently. the conflict between student, and mentor centric teams is a very interal issue in FIRST and no media outlet would give a rats butt about it. 69.76.80.162 03:30, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Exactly. That being the case, these sections aren't really appropriate for Wikipedia. Verkhovensky 04:12, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

But the media's laziness and disinterest doesn't mean that those aren't important issues in FIRST. If the criteria is "the mainstream media have written about it", then by that standard, you wouldn't have ANY reliable information about ANY competition that wasn't FIFA, NHL, NFL, NBA, or MLB beyond "this competition exists".

Let's see, sources about FIRST we could use:
Mainstream media (LOL) - Unreliable info, very little depth
Team websites - Unreliable info, unreliable websites, plus it opens the hornets nest of teams trying to advertise themselves
Chiefdelphi Whitepapers - Decent information quality, reliably up, citable, possibly sketchy as for wiki rules
Chiefdelphi threads - plenty of info, but apparently against wiki rules

Please post any others that you can think of. There's got to be SOMEONE somewhere that has written in-depth info about team management in a decent publication. Perhaps a robotics magazine somewhere. Bongle 15:29, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

SERVO Magazine has done coverage of FIRST, for one. That's a robotics magazine. Verkhovensky 19:10, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

I think Popular Science (one of those science/engineering mags) has, and so has CNN. Copysan 01:06, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Being that nasa is a huge FIRST sponsor i tried checking them out and i found this page http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/9-12/features/FIRST_Robotics_2005.html i didnt get a chance to look closely at it yet because im at school and not exactly supposed to be wikiing. hope it helps JoshDinger 18:28, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Engineer Centric Teams[edit]

Now that FIRST has tacitly acknowledged that trained engineer-centric teams are violating the spririt of FIRST, I think that we have to include this in the section on team make up. Additionaly, we should have some substance on the Delphi, GMC, NASA, and silicon valley teams that are essentially subsidiaries of these companies. Let's stop kidding ourselves, the kids on these teams do no work. Unfortunatly, I only anecdotal evidence of this. What do you think?

  • I think you're full of crap. I'm on Team 151, as students we do a HELL of a lot of work, about 95-100% of it. I bet you were never even on a FIRST team, so you can't back up your ridiculous claim. Doshindude (talk) 19:26, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Tacitly acknowledged? That makes it sound like there's no documented proof. And also, an encyclopedia article is not really the place to criticize certain FIRST Teams, even if they are a little too close to certain companies for comfort. And, as always, if the information is not verifiable it shouldn't be included. Verkhovensky 18:09, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
  • How have they acknowledged this? Everything I have heard from FIRST has been that the mentor-heavy teams are actually MORE in the spirit of FIRST than student-run teams, since mentor-run teams expose the students to people with real experience. There are several anecdotal postings on Chiefdelphi where a student-run team leader managed to talk to Dean or Woodie, who then chided them for excluding mentors from their teams. Some could say that FIRST isn't about "can you build a good robot in 6 weeks" (which would make your comment about students not working valid), but "watch and learn from them as mentors build a robot in 6 weeks"

Bongle 19:14, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

    • Fuck off, CD jackass. First off, those posting are all bullshit by engineer-run teams. If you don't believe me about the tacit acknowledgement, RTFM, and then read Dean and Woodie's kickoff speeches. They are not specific (which is why they make bad sources), but they get the point across. Secondly, I think we should be more clear about what constitutes a engineer-centric team. The mentors do not just guide or give advice, they do that on student-centric teams as well. I'm talking about the teams that are sponsored by Lockheed, Boeing, or Delphi, etc., who do some preliminary designs, then have their whole robot built out-of-house. Teams who don't know what how their robot is made. That is what FIRST has acknowledged, not that mentors were inherently bad. 70.167.245.166 16:51, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
  • Sir, please rephrase in the form of an opinion, not an ad-hominem attack. Starting any wikipedia posting with "Fuck-off" is against some policy somewhere, I think WP:CIVIL. Thank you and have a wonderful day. Dachande (talk) 14:35, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
      • Do you have a specific year of a kickoff speech to read, or even which passages in the manual to read? All you've done is say "they aren't in the spirit of FIRST, believe me, they aren't". I remember reading a FIRST official acknowledging that the competition is not fair, but they went on to say that they expect that and are fine with it. I've been reading the manual for the last few days trying to FIND mention or recommandation of levels of mentor involvement so I could cite the "FIRST's official position..." sentence, and I can't. So tell me the section or tell me the speech.

        PS I've been involved with 3 teams: 1141, 1281, and 1565. None are rich (each only barely raises enough money to attend 1 regional per year), and 1141's official motto is "student designed, student built". 1281 still builds their robot in someone's basement. 1565's pre-build model wasn't CAD, it was lego. I'd seriously like nothing better than to see the adult-built robots disappear or at least have a talking point saying "hey you guys should probably build yourselves", but I have never found evidence that the organization cares about outsourced robots.Bongle

        Edit: Was it this part from Woodie?

        In the extreme, however, it's very clear that if you could buy a series of $399 parts that you simply bolt together and that is your robot, that would not be in the spirit of FIRST. So please pay attention to the part of the manual that explains where that division is. We had a great year last year and a lot of the things that were available to you were wonderful, they really helped. But be careful about rule beaters that tried to create a group of parts that get barely under cost limits so you simply bolt them together. So now let's meet the guys who make all this happen, please meet the game design committee.

        (http://robotics.nasa.gov/events/first/07transcript.php, 2/3s of the way down). That does seem to go against the most extreme of engineer teams, but still is mainly railing against buying your entire robot. You could still have an adult team build your robot for you.17:22, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
        • From that quote, what I read is an indictment of engineer-centric teams. I could be totally off base, but what I think is being to referred to with "a series of $399 parts" is the work of the engineer centric teams. What I mean is that when the engineers build the robot for the team, the team itself ends up getting a few nicely finished parts from those engineers, parts that might have cost in the range of $400 if they needed them machined. It is still a tenuous implication, though. Verkhovensky 17:43, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
        • He may have also been talking about AndyMark and other suppliers that sell near-complete drivetrains optimized for locomoting 120lb robots, traction components that work very well on FIRST competition carpet, etc. I found and read the section in the manual that corresponds to that while I was reference-izing the article, and it seems to be mostly against buying pre-made manipulators, pre-made drivetrains. It could probably be read as an indictment of teams that CAD their robot and have it built for them, but as the guy with the IP address said, it isn't _quite_ clear enough to read definitively as "stop ordering pre-fab robots from machine shops". In other news, look at our shiny article with 28 glorious references!Bongle 18:27, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Folks, let's not get into the debate about which is better here. We should simply discuss how the debate should be described fairly and cleanly in the article. meatmanek 01:54, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

It seems that no matter which way you go about it, sections on "Engineer-centric" teams versus "student-centric" teams will always be plagued by OR, and, no matter how important those sections might seem to the high schoolers directly involved in FIRST, they have no importance or interest to people outside of FIRST or as part of an encyclopedia article. Verkhovensky 04:16, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

I think someone on CD phrased it best. They describe the existence of the debate (it DOES exist), but without getting into weaselly "some people say" phrases or having it being overly long:
>Debate:
>When it comes to fulfilling the "inspiration" of FIRST, the issue is purposely left open by FIRST for FRC teams to decide
>themselves. A vast majority of teams are a combination of student and engineer driven, but there are some teams that are
>strongly tipped in one direction and not the other.

>As such, there is often debate among the FIRST community on which method (student- versus engineer-driven) is best for
>inspiring students and fulfilling the mission of FIRST. While there have been strong arguments made for both cases, a common
>consensus can never be reached.

>The official position of FIRST on the issue has been to leave the issue to individual teams to decide which is best to
>inspire their own students.
I think we could cut the middle paragraph, but the 1st and 3rd paragraphs are well written, and if I can find the QA response or update as a citation for paragraph 3, I don't think you could do better.

The debate DOES exist, even an outsider at a regional will notice the vast gap in build quality between individual robots caused by mentor and sponsor support. I think we should cover it, but in as few words as possible. Bongle 14:19, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Just because the debate exists doesn't mean it is encyclopedic. Even if you could prove that all of this stuff about engineer centric teams versus student centric teams was encyclopedic, ChiefDelphi would *not* be a suitable source to cite your information. See WP:RS. That also applies to all that OR about "scouting" and other nonsense. Verkhovensky 02:20, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

I never said anything about citing Chiefdelphi. I said that the new arrangement was gotten from a post on there discussing this article. In fact, the very reason I like this new version is BECAUSE it has citeable sentences ("FIRST's official position...") as opposed to the old version which was "some say this", "some say that". As for this fundamental issue of team organization being encyclopedic, it is a notable portion of the competition. Anyone at a regional can see the vast gap in build quality between heavily-funded, adult-built teams, and teams that were thrown together by 3 HS students in their garage. Anyone competing in the pits can see that some teams are done one way, some teams another.

PS if you hate all the OR about scouting, just delete it. Rulenazis have been ranting about "HOLY SHIT OR" for months, but no-one has actually done anything about it. Stop talking about enforcing the rules and enforce them. Bongle 13:42, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Lol, some gracious professionalism here. hello, i'm a member | talk to me! 08:30, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

Gracious Professionalism[edit]

Do you think something should be added regarding gracious professionalism since it is an integral part of what FIRST is?

  • Perhaps put something in the main FIRST page, not the FRC page. Don't forget to put sources in too. Should be plenty on the main usfirst.org site.Bongle 13:16, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

FIRST wiki Links[edit]

There are a few links that go to FIRSTwiki.org. I don't understand the purpose of linking to another wiki when the articles being linked to, the regional and championship articles, would be acceptable articles in Wikipedia. Is anyone opposed to creating wikipedia articles to replace the external links?Bryan Duggan 05:14, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

I believe that FIRSTwiki.org is no longer about FIRST, I believe it was brought out, so we might want to verify that and if so remove the links from the page. TolkienLOTR (talk) 02:49, 25 February 2008 (UTC)TolkienLOTR

It's http://www.firstwiki.net, not .org. Also, there's a lot of info on FIRSTWiki that's not on WP. Doshindude (talk) 19:28, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Sources of Contention[edit]

The "Sources of Contention" section is filled with weasel words and zero citations of the controversy. If weaselly statements and uncited statements are removed, the section contributes nothing to the article. I propose that it be completely removed. Copysan (talk) 23:26, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Autonomous or piloted robots ?[edit]

The article doesn't mention it. Making a reliable IA in 6 weeks, even with a kit of parts provided is almost impossible. In one of the picture it seems that teams use a joystick. Therefore i guess they are not autonomous but radio-controlled.

This should be mentioned as a autonomous robot is a lot harder to make than a radio-controlled one. The Eurobot competition features smaller, but autonomous robots, and teams usually have to work a full year (note : they don't have a kit of parts provided) to have a working robot. Ksempac (talk) 07:37, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

This sentence from the article explains it - but you're right, it should be made more obvious: The game changes every year, but for the most part, they involve some autonomous (computer controlled) robot operation for 10–15 seconds at the beginning of a match, followed by a much longer period (usually 2 minutes) of remote control. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 13:35, 14 May 2009 (UTC)