FIRST Robotics Competition Blog


Jan 19, 2022 Written by Frank Merrick, Director FIRST Robotics Competition




One of the many things I love about FIRST is its seasonality. There’s something natural and comforting about being able to look at a calendar and have an idea of not just what the weather may be like outside (if you live in a place like New England) but what’s going on in FIRST Robotics Competition. And the rhythm of a period of hard work followed by a time to rest and recover is good for the soul, I think. 

Jobs also have their seasons - a time for starting and for ending. I’ve been thinking of this, and how it relates to my work at FIRST, for a long time. In May of 2019, I told Chris Rake (then VP of Programs) and Don Bossi (then President) that my window for retirement was three to five years. Three years from May 2019 is May 2022, and I've decided that's when I'm going to retire. 

I love FIRST, the teams, the volunteers, the supporters, the staff, and the folks we have in the field, and always will! There was no specific event that made me pick the earlier time in my window rather than a later time. But the truth is, I'm starting to feel a bit worn out. You all deserve a program director with the energy to keep pushing us forward and my battery is close to the blinking light stage. This is the time for my season as director to come to an end, and that’s OK! 

I believe that FIRST Robotics Competition has a bright future and that my departure will not affect that. This will be a disruption, but the kind that can bring incredibly positive things! FIRST will start a search for my replacement a few months or so before I leave.  

I have been unbelievably privileged and fortunate to be director of FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST has brought me my highest of highs and given me true lifelong friends. I will never forget it. Also, I am not going anywhere! I am planning to continue to participate in FIRST, by visiting events and maybe volunteering. As Dean says, “there is no exit strategy in FIRST” and he’s right! 

I have been truly blessed by this experience.  

My love to all. 


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I'm sure you'll be getting a thousand thank you letters Frank, but I wanted to add mine:   Not only have you done an amazing job running FRC for the entire time I've been involved with the program (work that was likely invisible), you took it upon yourself to share your plans, regrets and hopes with us publically.  I knew I could reliably locate the "ethos of FIRST" here.   You leave big shoes to fill.  Best wishes in retirement!

Hi Frank, you are an icon in the FRC community and your work to support all of the teams and volunteers over the years has been incredible. You will be greatly missed by everyone certainly!  I hope your next season in life is as rewarding and fruitful as your FRC season has been. Best of luck with all of your future endeavours. On behalf of FIRST Canada, THANK YOU!!

Frank, your message to the community brings with it mixed emotions; happiness for you to start another season in your life but sadness that you'll no longer be leading the charge for FRC. You have had such a great influence on the community and have supported both teams and volunteers in thoughtful and inspiring ways over the years.  On behalf of FIRST Canada's teams and volunteers, THANK YOU!  We wish you all the best as you start the next chapter in your life!

- Dave Ellis

Frank, let me echo the sentiments here and express my gratitude for all you've done for FIRST. You've been a force of nature within a program that is a force of nature. Thank you for all you've done for the program. I appreciate that you're going out on a high - this is going to be a terrific year all around - there is so many great things happening in and around FIRST, and I hope you recognize the hand you've had in all of that goodness. You will be missed; we wish you all the best! 

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