FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

More on Volunteer Roles... Even Though You Didn’t Ask :)

Sep 08, 2017 Written by Fiona Hanlon, FRC Volunteer Resource Coordinator

Hi FRC Teams and Volunteers,

By now, many of you have read my last blog about the updates to our Volunteer roles. Here’s a little more information about why, and how, we added some of these important age requirements!

Why? To enhance the event quality, overall team and volunteer experience and to create a baseline for consistency among all volunteer roles. We’re always looking for ways to provide guidance to our community and improve!

How? To start, we heard from several of our FIRST leaders in the field and they requested we add age minimums to key volunteer roles. We then consulted with our Chief Volunteers, several Volunteer Coordinators, and various volunteers. After, we pulled reports of every key volunteer role to see how many volunteers would be affected by making a change to the age requirement. For almost every role, only about 10 volunteers previously assigned to those roles would be affected by adding a requirement. The one role with the biggest number of volunteers affected under the 19-year-old minimum age being considered was Robot Inspector. Due to this, we lowered the age to 18 as a way to alleviate the challenges for Volunteer Coordinators in finding technical volunteers for this important role.

The Volunteer Resources team knows that we have many outstanding, qualified volunteers that may not meet the new minimum requirements. We understand that in a few circumstances, exceptions will be requested. Since this wasn't obvious in the original role descriptions, we’ve now added this line to all the roles with the age requirements: “Exceptions may be granted by event Volunteer Coordinators after review and approval by FIRST Headquarters.” Some roles assigned by HQ (VC, JA, Head Ref, LRI, and FTA) have occasionally been granted exceptions in the past when we received the volunteer submissions from the local event leadership. This practice will continue with these new requirements going forward.

Did you know that for every FIRST Robotics Competition event, we need approximately 120 volunteers? That’s a lot of helping hands. So, while our key volunteer roles now have a minimum age requirement, there are approximately 25 different roles that do not. With some roles requiring several volunteers, this leaves about 75 important positions needed to help successfully run an event! While not every volunteer position is high profile, all are necessary to ensure the best possible event experience.

Since FIRST Championship, the Volunteer Resource Department has been working on improving the Volunteer Shadowing Program. Don’t know what this program is?! Well, volunteer shadowing has been available for a few years now, and we’re planning to develop and promote this more with our Volunteer Coordinators. This allows new volunteers to gain some excellent skills working side-by-side among other experienced volunteers while determining if a key role is the right fit for them. So, if you don’t quite meet the minimum requirements for a role that you’d like in the future, remember you can still get started by volunteering to shadow an experienced volunteer. More information about the Volunteer Shadowing Program will be released in November.


Fiona Hanlon

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