FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

This Isn't A Robot, Housing, and Throwing Things

Dec 22, 2016 Written by Frank Merrick.


FIRST Championship Housing

Championship housing opened last week, and for the most part, seemed to go fairly smoothly. A few folks, though, had questions about availability and pricing, and I want to see if I can help answer those.

Just like in any other cities, if there is a big convention in town, room prices rise. We’re bringing tens of thousands of participants to both Houston and St Louis. All these folks want good quality housing near the venues. Prices will go up at desirable properties, it’s a basic supply and demand situation. We do however, negotiate prices with hotels that want to be part of our hotel blocks. Their incentive to negotiate is that they want attendees to be able to easily find their rooms. We use this as leverage to reduce prices. However, that leverage is not unlimited. So, if you compare prices at some of the hotels during a non-peak period with prices during Championship, it’s not surprising that they may be higher during Championship. However, it’s unlikely you will be able to find a group of rooms at the same hotel during the same time period for less than you can get by going through our housing provider. Maybe not impossible, but unlikely.

Also, not every hotel in the area is available to every attendee through our housing provider. Some may have decided not to be part of our block, some may not have had the quality we were looking for, and some may be reserved for other programs, volunteers, or staff. We try to allocate rooms to the participants in a way that makes sense for all. As an example, FIRST Tech Challenge participants have access to hotels closer to Union Station in St Louis where most of their activities are being held, while FIRST Robotics Competition teams do not.  FIRST LEGO League Jr teams, while they are fewer in number, get access to some very close hotels, as we want to minimize walking and travel times for our youngest (and, BTW, most adorable ☺) participants. Staff and volunteers also get closer hotels, as they tend to be on their feet constantly during what can be some incredibly long days. And tired, cranky staff and volunteers do not create positive experiences for teams. 

I hope all this makes sense. The system isn’t perfect, but we do try to do the best we can with the resources we have and our understanding of the situation.


Throwing Things

We’re making it official for the 2017 season. It will be against the rules to throw things from the stands or bleachers at our events. Paper airplanes count as things. As well as being a safety hazard, throwing paper airplanes can be disrespectful, depending on what is happening on the field. We probably should have put this rule in place years ago, but I hope we can now count on you to help keep our events safe and respectful.




*Yes, the voiceover says ‘hydraulic’ when they probably meant ‘pneumatic’ or just ‘mechanical’. Please listen for the poetry, not the precision.

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Hello ! My name is Silas, I'm a FLL volunteer as a coach and as a jugde. I love this video "This isn't a Robot" and I would like that more teams from Brazil understand it. So I created subtitles for the video. Is there anyway they could put them on the youtube channel ? What would be the procedure for that ?

Thanks a lot tor the blog, love to see FRC news over here,

"Paper airplanes count as things"


I can't wait to see how that's enforced. Or if its even enforced.

Anyone throwing objects from the stands will be considered to be creating a safety hazard.  We're not so naive as to believe all instances of this will cease with the creation of this rule, or that we'll be able to catch everyone violating it, but we are hoping the creation of a rule will start to shift the culture from "this must be OK, as there's not a rule against it" to "this is not OK, as there is a rule against it".   We would encourage mentors and other team members who are sitting near someone who appears to be getting ready to throw something to gently remind them of the rule - there's a good chance they may not even be aware.  And, as with other safety hazards, if you see a violation and are not comfortable talking to the individual or team about it, you should report the issue to event management.  

My team already enforces it, even before an official rule. Any student caught throwing things (the exception we make is anything official such as the giant balls or relatively harmless like beach balls) is given a warning. Subsequent violations are disciplined, depending on the severity, by being returned to the hotel, suspended from competition, and/or dismissal from the team and returned home at the cost of parents. It is rude and dangerous and indeed, one of my students was hit in the face, less than an inch from his eye, during championships. We take safety seriously, as does every team.. not just when working on our robot, but all aspects of FIRST.

All I can say is thank you......

Please allow Worlds to continue to be a Championship that FTC robotics team earn ,  not that is given away to anyone who wants to go . Our culture needs to stop giving participation awards and award excellence !  Do you want employees who don't really care and do  a mediocre job.  If your truly trying to build Future engineers and a strong  future award excellence and by the way the robots should be what the competition is about.Team work and all the other skills are important too , but if they are not building a quality robot to compete with you could use much less inexpensive ways to accomplish these other skills.  Why waste all these sponsor companies $ on building robots that don't have to be any good . 

Thanks for the clarification on housing - my team will likely never attend CMP, however I love going as a volunteer (I'm a FRC ref at CMP - a great experience getting to see a ton of great robots from the best "seats" in the house!), and you're right - the days are long, tiring and grueling, and I've appreciated having a hotel very near to the venue. However, at the same time I felt bad about it sometimes - "am I stealing a room from a team that could be here instead?" seeing all the difficulty going on via Chief Delphi with teams. It's great to know that the answer is NO - those rooms are explicitly for volunteers :). I can't imagine the logistics of putting something like this together, and kudos to the FIRST staff for executing it so well!

I admit it is fun having paper airplanes and balloons flying around.  I also always worried that someone was going to get hurt or get things broken (glasses, phones, etc.).  Yes, paper airplanes can injure eyes and slammed balloons can knock things to the cement floor.  The competitions are already fun, so I second Jimmy's thank you for putting safety above a tiny bit of extra fun.  People will pass on the new rule, and those who care about safety of others will see it gets shared and followed, so I agree this rule will help.

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