We are FIRST Tech Challenge Team #3595, Schrödinger’s Hat. This is our fifth year in the program, and at the 2015 World Championship, we were honored to be the recipient of the Inspire Award. We’re often asked how we presented our season to the judges. The most important thing that we tried to emphasize in judging is the availability of opportunities in FIRST, and what comes about when they are taken advantage of. FIRST’s tagline for that world tournament was “More than Robots,” and what we are writing about today is a subset of that focus. FIRST is an incredible program, with numerous opportunities for internships, travel, scholarships, networking, collaborations, and more. But many teams are not adequately aware of these opportunities, and as such they don’t get quite as much out of FIRST as they otherwise could.
Taking advantage of as many opportunities as we can has been one of our team’s biggest focuses over the past year and a half, and because of this we have gotten even more out of FIRST than we had before. When teams take advantage of one single opportunity, it can snowball, and teams can wind up with many chances to help and to learn from others. For example, here is a story that we told during our judging at Worlds. In the summer of 2014, we volunteered to give two “Gear Up with FTC” presentations for FIRST’s online conference. Because of one of those presentations, we were asked by National Instruments to help them with a “LabVIEW Quick Start Guide” for teams. As a result of that, we were asked to remotely host a teacher training on programming in Sydney, Australia. The other Gear Up with FTC presentation led to multiple collaborations with FIRST: we were asked to speak during an Ask An Expert call on electrostatic discharge about ways to minimize ESD through robot wiring. We were also asked to write large portions of FIRST’s robot wiring guide for teams. When we gave the two Gear Up with FTC presentations we had no idea how many amazing opportunities would come about as a result of them, or that they would become some of the most rewarding parts of our season.
However, teams often don’t take advantage of these opportunities. One of the reasons for this is that these opportunities often come up during “crunch season,” when teams are very busy, and it seems like they would not be worthwhile, or that time would be better spent working on the robot. But it’s important to remember that these opportunities can be just as valuable – both short-term and long-term – as building the robot. Another option is to focus on these opportunities during the off-season, which allows teams to put more focus on the robot during the build season. However your team chooses to go about this, taking advantage of opportunities makes your season much more fun and rewarding – it’s how we have made all of our closest friends in FTC!
However, it can be difficult know how to begin. There are a few things that helped our team to get the ball rolling. Paying attention to FIRST’s team email blasts was a great help. Opportunities are frequently mentioned in these emails, and they are a wonderful way to stay up-to-date. Following FIRST on social media is another helpful way to hear about opportunities and to stay involved. Maybe your team can get involved with some of the online communities surrounding FIRST. For example, FIRST Ladies has an option to volunteer to write a blog. In addition to FIRST Ladies, also check out FTC Tec Network and Mentors Without Borders.
Not only will opportunities arise through your involvement, but you’ll make amazing friends and gain very important skills. Partaking of activities like that is a fantastic way to get your team out there and make a difference. It can also lead to amazing opportunities.
This blog was written by Katie and Colleen from FTC Team 3595. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.
Be a guest
Do you want to be a guest blogger for FIRST Ladies? You can write about a topic of your choice! Please email us the completed blog and track your creation using this link: