2017-2018 Yearly Report
Throughout the year as a rookie team in FIRST we have learned that in order to be an efficient team member, the importance of time management, cooperation, responsibility and communication must be understood by all the members of the team because what is important the most is that the team functions properly as a whole. If all the members are aware of the aforementioned values, the success that we all hope for comes alongside. It is now a lot more easier to say this for us because there are many things that we have experienced during our first year in this amazing community. A community which does not just consists of one team or the teams in your city, country, or region but a community that you build very strong ties with, in the whole world. As we have mentioned, there are plenty of things that we have come across in this season and all those things made us learn so that we can improve ourselves as we leave our first year behind. However as just stated, we are a community which is growing bigger and bigger every single year as more rookie teams participate in and that’s why it is our duty to try and guide them with all the lessons that we have learned as a team. With everything that we think we did exemplarily or ineffectively…
The first thing that we have learned during our rookie year is that safety is just crucial. We know that all the teams have a very busy preparation time in which they give a lot of time and countless effort however any of it matters if something actually happens to a member of your team because of a safety precaution that you should have taken but ignored. Fortunately, we did not come across with any major problems concerning any member’s health however we did experience safety issues in general. We can clearly advise the new teams to always add safety features to your software. Adding the motor safety features saves a lot. One day, when the drivers were practicing, roborio lost connection to the computer. Since we didn’t have the motor safety features, the robot didn’t stop and kept moving. It got out of control. That’s why we added the motor safety timeout features to the robot software. The robot automatically stops the motors when there’s a timeout. Also, always have safety equipment ready in your working place or lab to prevent any kind of accident. Additionally, it is also important to have safety rules that are printed and placed around your working area so that people can be reminded of them all the time. We can also say that the second step of preparing the rules is making sure every one of your team members substantially know them so that they can implement them. In order to make sure that, we planned a workshop with professionals on the matter in which all of our team members attended.
In addition to the safety measures which are really important to be taken into account, it is very significant to always keep your working area or lab well organized. It is essential to know where everything you need is placed and how many of those things you possess. What we mean is that when a team member just asks you where a tool is on phone, you should be able to directly tell him the exact place but more importantly the tool should actually be there. You need to inform your team members of the places of various tools so that they can be always in the same place and everyone can find them easily. We are able to advise you that because even though we tried to keep our lab tidy, it was not always as we intended which caused us many problems and time waste. Losing tools and equipment always cause you to waste your time because they are most of the time essential for your robot and you spend a lot of time trying to find the equipment rather than dealing with the actual problems about the robot at hand. Also, since we are an overseas team, it is just not okay to lose and buy another one of a specific equipment because once we have ordered them, we need to wait way too long until we finally have the equipment and that costs us a lot of time. As our main driver Kerem says “ Keeping your lab tidy will help you save a lot of time.”
We have come across with several issues regarding our robot during the matches and from every single problem even from the very minor ones, we took our lesson and noted down how to fix the problem and how to act in the upcoming season so that we won’t experience the same thing again.To give an example of an important issue, we can mention the collisions that happened during the matches. Those collisions needs to be considered while designing the robot. This season our robot that we have used in the regional was the second robot that we built. During the matches everytime our robot collided somewhere, our grabber bended and eventually during the semi-finals it became unusable and since we have learned, we did our best to make it much more stronger at the Houston Championship. Moreover, one more thing we can definitely advise to the new teams is that it is more than important to come to the competitions with back-up parts because it is very likely that something happens to the original one during the games. When it does, it gets very stressful to try to provide it from the other teams or somewhere else because the time is limited and most of the time there are other things that you also need to fix before the upcoming game. One of our team members says “Always have a backup part just in case. It might save you games or tournaments.” As well as, having back-up parts, you also need to have spare material because you might just want to change something and if you don’t have the material, you simply will not be able to.
The scouting team is a subteam you need to have and you need to make sure that you have a good one. As we have talked with the members of our team, we realized that some of us think that the scouting team was something that we could have done a better job with. You need to make sure that the scouting team is fully informed about their responsibility and have someone or request your advisors to check out on them once in a while during the competitions because scouting is very important in order to improve yourself and learn how more experienced teams build their robots. Also, during the competition we realized that it is very important to have an organized pit area. The same reasons of having a tidy lab applies but this time on a higher level because during the preparation time in the lab, there is at least a chance to spend time finding tools and other things or you can have a day to go and buy something if it is available in your country however it is not possible to spend a lot of time during the competition because there are many more responsibilities of every single member of the team. That’s why it is very important to make sure you have an organized pit area with a lot of neat space so that the subteam that are working on the robot between matches are able to find whatever they need and they work in a convenient environment in which they can do their best.
One of our team members Berke Güdücü brought into our attention that the attendance of the team members was one of the problems during the preparation time. Some of them team members were working diligently by putting exceptional effort while some members weren’t even coming to the meetings. As soon as we realized these members, we talked to them and explained how important is to be a team in FRC and how we need to work together to achieve our goal. We implied that we expect them to work with us and we tried to decrease the number of people who did not care much about the amazing community that we are in. Since we now, elected our new team members we can advise you that if you spot people in your team who are not as determined and assiduous as others and if you couldn’t make them join you in that journey, just simply have an election process for the upcoming year’s members. Because since you will have a lot more publicity in your school from the competitions you have attended and the work you have done, you will have many people who are ready to work perfectly with the already existing dedicated people rather than the ones who were there just to be there. You can also make sure that every single team member have solid tasks to complete and deadlines that are regulated by your advisors so that everyone knows what and when they should do something. This leads me to something else related to the team spirit. As our team leader Arda Satıcı pointed out “If you do not sacrifice something along the way of achieving your goals, you cannot reach success.” This season, we believe that we perfectly achieved this, at least with the members who cared. We saw many of our friends spending hours and hours of time working in the lab building the robot, planning workshops, writing papers for the award applications… We planned trips to other schools to teach the younger students about STEM, FRC and Robotics. We attended the workshops of other teams in our city. We worked on slides, posters and many other publicity equipment together, we communicated with the other teams, we struggled to arrange many things since we are an overseas team but most importantly we have spent this much time together as a team, working as hard as we can under every single subdivision of the same team. However, while doing all this we all sacrificed things that we valued. We returned our homes at ten or eleven pm at nights, while many of our peers went straight to home to study for the quizzes or the exams next day. We came to school during our winter break and worked for hours. Sometimes some parts of the robot did not function as we have expected and we redid them over and over again. Sometimes we even did not eat anything for hours because we were just too busy fixing something important. FRC taught us the team spirit and how to be an actual team. It taught us to work together, collaborate and to support one another. We learned that rather than criticizing one’s mistake, it is important to try to solve it together. We learned to overcome challenges as a team. Finally, we learned that there is no better feeling than knowing that you have at least 15 people behind you when you need support in this journey no matter what happens.
One more thing that we have learned during our rookie year is time management. One of our team members Arman Özkaya stated that “The rookie teams should always remember the fact that time really flies. 6 weeks is not a long period of time to come up with ideas and to build the robot for a rookie team because the team mostly tries to figure out how each element of FRC works in the first couple weeks.” As he said, during the first weeks everyone tries to understand what we are actually doing however what is important is that you need to make sure everyone understands it. You need to make sure everyone learns everything that is needed to be learned and they start coming up with ideas for every single element of FRC. During this process we learned to plan ahead and fulfill our responsibilities on time because without planning ahead, six weeks will never be enough. Ensure that you have a timetable that you stated everything inside. Organize all the jobs you have in a very strict manner. Additionally, learn to never patch the problems you have. Rather than trying to solve the issue for the moment, make sure you solve them permanently. We know, that it requires the ability to think fast and reasonable under stressful circumstances however these are qualities that will help you for your whole life so start improving them. As one of our team members Arman said Working hard will not be enough. You also need to work smart and be efficient as much as possible with your limited sources.
Come up with solid solutions as fast you can, however if you need to take your time, do it because it is better to eradicate the problem with insightful solutions rather than just “pretending” to solve them for the moment, it is just not smart. We have experienced the disadvantages of just patching the problems and As Tibet, a member of our team, says “patches will almost always won’t be enough to fix the problem” and they will always come back to you and you will have to spend time on solving it again and again.
Sponsorships, social media, publicity, team impact and outreach matters. We saw that when the juries asked us about all those things in detail in the competitions. We were able to explain all these comprehensively because, during the 6 weeks preparation time we cared about all those things and we put as much effort on them as we did with the robot. To be honest, sponsorships are what makes a team functioning. If you have good and powerful people behind you who are able to support you with everything you need from them, you will be able to achieve your goals a lot more easier. Especially when you are an overseas team, everything requires financial support. The orders you have to make from outside of the country, the equipment, the cargo of the robot… We had people supporting us with all that, in the best way they could however we believe that we need to work on this a little bit more to have more people behind us. To continue with the other elements , we would say that they are essential to be a successful team in FRC especially if you are a rookie team. As we have learned this season, FRC is not only about building the robot but it is also about how you function under different categories like social media, publicity, team impact and outreach and that’s why the juries want to see whether you fully comprehend the FRC spirit. A spirit that consists of major values like cooperation, association, multitasking, teaching, communication and public relations.
Finally, if we are to reflect on the season as a whole we can wholeheartedly say that it was an exceptional experience for all of us. As Arda says The game was very good and the competition field was prepared and designed very well. PowerUp season was one of the best FRC seasons of all time.” especially it was absolutely exciting for us because we got involved in an outstanding community. We worked diligently and learned from our mistakes. We are making sure that we will never make them again because “It is not essential that you have no mistakes to be successful but it is essential that you do not have the same ones.” If you continue having the same mistakes you will never improve yourself. With this in mind we wanted all the new teams to learn from our mistakes too and get a head start. Apart from our own experiences and struggles throughout the season, we discovered that we are now involved in a worldwide community in which people constantly learn and grow to be a better version of themselves. As a team, we all can say how proud we are to be a part of FRC and we are looking forward to the next season with full of excitement.