Today’s good question comes from George Chisholm, from FRC Team 1334, The Red Devils, in Oakville, Ontario, Canada:
My question concerns the NASA $5000 award to winners of Engineering Inspiration at US events. How is this fair to the winners of the five (now seven) events in Canada and the one in Israel (plus the new one in Mexico)? To truly demonstrate Gracious Professionalism, FIRST should either turn down the award from NASA or make alternative arrangements to support the teams not eligible for the award because of where it was won. In the scheme of things, the $45 000 involved isn't that much. EI is EI and should not be affected by international borders.
George Chisholm, Mentor
FIRST Robotics Team 1334
The Red Devils
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
George, thanks for the question.
Every team sponsor has its own set of reasons for sponsoring teams, and all have restrictions on which teams they sponsor, and under what circumstances. Some of these restrictions are based in law, others are a choice. In the past, state organizations in the US have sometimes required teams to not only be from their state, but also compete at an event within their state, in order to receive sponsorship. Teams in Mexico have benefited from strong local sponsorship, but of course that support is only available to teams who are from Mexico. I wouldn’t characterize restrictions like these as unfair. It’s the sponsor’s right to decide where they want their money to go.
FIRST is very grateful for all our team sponsors. I would bet our teams are too! While not every individual sponsorship opportunity is available to every team in FRC in every circumstance, this is not a reason for us to turn down sponsorships when they are offered. Geographically-based sponsorships are best secured by individuals or organizations from the regions involved. If you see a sponsorship available only to teams in Mexico or Washington State, you can bet some person, or some group, from that area worked very hard to make that sponsorship available. If this is something you are passionate about, maybe there is something you can do, working with the very strong FIRST Robotics organization in Canada, to secure local sponsorship for the Engineering Inspiration Award winners at the events in your country?
I'll blog again soon.