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  • #16
    Originally posted by Tom Eng View Post
    Hi Folks,

    I agree - there will be a new learning curve with the Android platform, and there may be some bumps along the way in spite of our best efforts to mitigate the technical risks and to smooth the transition.. However, in the long run I think the new platform will be a fun platform and offer a lot to the mentors, teams and volunteers who participate in the program. There are a lot of neat things that you can do with the Snapdragon systems - they are very powerful yet also power efficient and compact.

    Tom
    I couldn't agree more. I think I'm the only one at my school currently who is honestly stoked about moving platforms. Not because I enjoy Java, but because it offers a world more possibilities than RobotC could ever provide

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by Tom Eng View Post
      Hi Folks,

      I agree - there will be a new learning curve with the Android platform, and there may be some bumps along the way in spite of our best efforts to mitigate the technical risks and to smooth the transition.. However, in the long run I think the new platform will be a fun platform and offer a lot to the mentors, teams and volunteers who participate in the program. There are a lot of neat things that you can do with the Snapdragon systems - they are very powerful yet also power efficient and compact.

      Tom
      Tom ---

      With all due respect, the learning curve and technical risks and transition pale in comparison to the adverse impact this has on funding, budgeting, curriculum, and depreciation of our current assets. Schools (and especially large public school systems like mine) operate on an annual cycle and getting anything done takes months. To contemplate making this change by September, with less than 90 days left on this academic calendar is impossible. There should have been a year transition in which these things were announced and we were prepared for the transition. The technical details did not need to be finalized to make this happen. We needed budgeting, curriculum, and resource guidance a year ago for this level of change. Please pass this concern along to the necessary staff at FIRST for future large-scale changes. THANKS!

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by FTC-8811 View Post
        Tom ---

        With all due respect, the learning curve and technical risks and transition pale in comparison to the adverse impact this has on funding, budgeting, curriculum, and depreciation of our current assets. Schools (and especially large public school systems like mine) operate on an annual cycle and getting anything done takes months. To contemplate making this change by September, with less than 90 days left on this academic calendar is impossible. There should have been a year transition in which these things were announced and we were prepared for the transition. The technical details did not need to be finalized to make this happen. We needed budgeting, curriculum, and resource guidance a year ago for this level of change. Please pass this concern along to the necessary staff at FIRST for future large-scale changes. THANKS!
        I'm struggling with my response to this post, as I really can see your problems with this technology change, but . . .

        I'll admit that part of me is jealous of your ability to run your FTC teams in an "in school" situation. We are a community team, and we don't have the luxury of public funding. I guess that I'm upset because you don't seem to appreciate how good your current situation is, even if it's not perfect. None of your current hardware or software has magically stopped working, and is still viable to teach robotics in a classroom setting, for use in "outreach" bots, and for outreach mentoring your local FLL teams. I know several colleges that have entire classrooms set up with Lego NXT/EV3 robotics to teach their intro to robotics classes. Are you teaching robotics or are you teaching FTC?

        At the same time, I can't believe that you thought that the technology would never change, or that it would only change in a way and at a time that you predicted. The NXT/Samantha combination was showing its age, and everyone knew it. Would you rather have FTC do 2 or 3 incremental annual hardware$$/software$$ upgrades, or bite the bullet and upgrade to a platform that will last for many years without annual changes. Based on what I have seen here, Tom Eng and his team have done their homework, and the basic Android platform should support us well for many years.

        Would more notice have been nice? Sure, you bet! Would a publicly released "FIRST Technology Roadmap" be helpful? Heck yeah! Is it our call to decide these things? Nope. With the competition season ending in 4 weeks at World Championships in St Louis, I'm actually happily surprised that FIRST didn't save this reveal for that event.

        All that I'm trying to say is that we need to remember that "our glass is half full, not half empty!" We get to expose the next generation of scientists and engineers to their future!

        Sorry for the rant. The above opinions are solely my own, and I mean no disrespect to any individual or group. Thank you all for everything you do! YMMV!
        Jim Bates
        Atlantic County NJ 4-H Robotics
        FLL Teams 71 & 13365
        FTC Team 9765

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by FTC-8811 View Post
          Tom ---

          With all due respect, the learning curve and technical risks and transition pale in comparison to the adverse impact this has on funding, budgeting, curriculum, and depreciation of our current assets. Schools (and especially large public school systems like mine) operate on an annual cycle and getting anything done takes months. To contemplate making this change by September, with less than 90 days left on this academic calendar is impossible. There should have been a year transition in which these things were announced and we were prepared for the transition. The technical details did not need to be finalized to make this happen. We needed budgeting, curriculum, and resource guidance a year ago for this level of change. Please pass this concern along to the necessary staff at FIRST for future large-scale changes. THANKS!
          FTC-8811 - Thank you for your honest feedback. I will share your concerns as well as the concerns expressed by other members of this forum to the appropriate folks at FIRST HQ.

          Comment


          • #20
            Hi Jim

            1. I receive no funding as a public institution for our robotics team. None. The support we did receive was obtained by writing grants and a modest amount of student fund raising. My wife and I have spent thousands of dollars on this year's teams. The parent portion of our trip to Super Regionals was $120. Many parents had to pay this in installments.

            2. The only support we receive as a school is a classroom in which to work (mine) and a ton of regulatory paperwork and oversight bureaucracy. Our school's enrollment is 2300+ in a building built for 1600 students in 1925. We are an urban "at-risk" school where 84% of the students are considered economically disadvantaged and all students are on lunch assistance. My kids carefully weighed the differences in our team t-shirts in the $15-20 range. Trying to launch and run an unsupported after-school activity in such an environment with kids who have been short-changed all their life by the public education system and are first generation Americans with parents who have no exposure to higher education is no luxury.

            3. We currently do not offer a robotics class, nor do we offer a programming class or any STEM related class. We are working hard to get such courses into our curriculum. While my local administration is interested, they understandably have higher priorities. Our average class size is 29. Its hard for them to justify to their bosses adding classes that raise that number. Nevertheless we're optimistic it will happen. Our success this year has been a shot of energy for the entire staff and everyone is so proud of our kids. Our feeder pattern does not have FLL teams. One of our team's goals is to start one but overcoming the bureaucracy of starting an after-school activity at a campus not our own requires central administration support, which I judge will take 2-3 years.

            4. In my previous life prior to becoming a school teacher I was a physicist, aerospace engineer, and technology officer. My last stop was as a CEO of a publicly traded data services company. I've rode the technology curve my entire life going back to Neil Armstrong. I expected the technology to evolve and its a good thing. I have absolutely no problem with the technology that is in the offing and I look forward with great anticipation to seeing what teams will do now that we have such a capable environment. On the technology side, all indications are FIRST has done an excellent job.

            5. What I do have a problem with is how the launch/roll-out has been handled. As a former CEO, I'm accustomed to the needs of my customers in terms of always wanting the "latest and greatest" technology. However, this has to be balanced against their ability to plan, budget, train, and roll out this technology. It is always a balance and it depends heavily on your customer's organizational capability and resilience to absorb change. Some teams will be able to absorb this roll-out while others will not. So I respectfully disagree that we have no voice in deciding these things. We are stakeholders, partners in this grand adventure. Our program's success and the success of FIRST go hand-in-hand.

            6. In our particular case, we can't absorb this change at the rate its being introduced. I respectfully submit other coaches in situations similar to mine will have similar concerns. I would hope the FIRST would be sensitive to such concerns since I believe in my heart programs like ours is one of their mission priorities.

            7. Indeed, we are exposing our kids to their future. In our case, too many of our most promising students never make it through college. One of our goals with our robotics team is to expose these kids earlier to the challenges that are ahead and help them be better prepared to meet them with some hope for success. If my frustration is coming through some of my posts, it comes from knowing we're not doing enough for these kids and we're not overcoming the obstacles we adults are creating on their path to their future fast enough to make a difference.

            Comment


            • #21
              Dear FTC8811,

              In your profile, please enable the receiving of private messages from other bloggers. I would like to send you a message discussing the situation as it stands for all of the FTC schools in the Dallas Independent School District.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by FTC8811 View Post
                Hi Jim

                1. I receive no funding as a public institution for our robotics team. None. The support we did receive was obtained by writing grants and a modest amount of student fund raising. My wife and I have spent thousands of dollars on this year's teams. The parent portion of our trip to Super Regionals was $120. Many parents had to pay this in installments.

                2. The only support we receive as a school is a classroom in which to work (mine) and a ton of regulatory paperwork and oversight bureaucracy. Our school's enrollment is 2300+ in a building built for 1600 students in 1925. We are an urban "at-risk" school where 84% of the students are considered economically disadvantaged and all students are on lunch assistance. My kids carefully weighed the differences in our team t-shirts in the $15-20 range. Trying to launch and run an unsupported after-school activity in such an environment with kids who have been short-changed all their life by the public education system and are first generation Americans with parents who have no exposure to higher education is no luxury.
                I'm sorry. I misunderstood your complaint about "Schools (and especially large public school systems like mine) operate on an annual cycle and getting anything done takes months." Exactly what needs to get done that involves the school system? Does the new UIL/FIRST_IN_TEXAS Partnership provide you with any new grant opportunities? Like you, I have personally financially supported my FLL teams, and I salute you for that!

                Originally posted by FTC8811 View Post
                3. We currently do not offer a robotics class, nor do we offer a programming class or any STEM related class. We are working hard to get such courses into our curriculum. While my local administration is interested, they understandably have higher priorities. Our average class size is 29. Its hard for them to justify to their bosses adding classes that raise that number. Nevertheless we're optimistic it will happen. Our success this year has been a shot of energy for the entire staff and everyone is so proud of our kids. Our feeder pattern does not have FLL teams. One of our team's goals is to start one but overcoming the bureaucracy of starting an after-school activity at a campus not our own requires central administration support, which I judge will take 2-3 years.
                To work around the school bureaucracy, might I suggest that you look into your local Community organizations (4-H, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs) as FLL feeder/mentoring partners. They are all national FIRST Alliance partners, and have their own national initiatives to start local STEM programs. At least in my area, their STEM programs would LOVE to have FTC mentors. This certainly couldn't hurt your teams outreach pages.

                Originally posted by FTC8811 View Post
                4. In my previous life prior to becoming a school teacher I was a physicist, aerospace engineer, and technology officer. My last stop was as a CEO of a publicly traded data services company. I've rode the technology curve my entire life going back to Neil Armstrong. I expected the technology to evolve and its a good thing. I have absolutely no problem with the technology that is in the offing and I look forward with great anticipation to seeing what teams will do now that we have such a capable environment. On the technology side, all indications are FIRST has done an excellent job.

                5. What I do have a problem with is how the launch/roll-out has been handled. As a former CEO, I'm accustomed to the needs of my customers in terms of always wanting the "latest and greatest" technology. However, this has to be balanced against their ability to plan, budget, train, and roll out this technology. It is always a balance and it depends heavily on your customer's organizational capability and resilience to absorb change. Some teams will be able to absorb this roll-out while others will not. So I respectfully disagree that we have no voice in deciding these things. We are stakeholders, partners in this grand adventure. Our program's success and the success of FIRST go hand-in-hand.

                6. In our particular case, we can't absorb this change at the rate its being introduced. I respectfully submit other coaches in situations similar to mine will have similar concerns. I would hope the FIRST would be sensitive to such concerns since I believe in my heart programs like ours is one of their mission priorities.
                Is there an acceptable "Rate of Change?" While I don't see any way to roll out the current change incrementally, I can't argue that the timing isn't the best. As I said in my original response, I'm surprised that FIRST let this out before World Championships next month. I can't help thinking that FIRST views this change as a part of the annual challenge with, as Woody says, "A project too big, a timeline too short, resources too few, . . .) Perhaps FIRST could find/help us find sponsors for the changed technology?

                When we help our teams prepare their annual budget (your teams do a budget, right?), perhaps we should include a "technology upgrade escrow" line to save up for these upgrades? It would help the kids understand the importance of planning for the long haul, not just to get through the next few months. I realize that it isn't always possible to actually fund this line item, but it would teach the requirement to plan ahead.

                Originally posted by FTC8811 View Post
                7. Indeed, we are exposing our kids to their future. In our case, too many of our most promising students never make it through college. One of our goals with our robotics team is to expose these kids earlier to the challenges that are ahead and help them be better prepared to meet them with some hope for success. If my frustration is coming through some of my posts, it comes from knowing we're not doing enough for these kids and we're not overcoming the obstacles we adults are creating on their path to their future fast enough to make a difference.
                Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. I'm sure that my frustration shows through as well. Whatever happens, PLEASE DON'T STOP advocating for your kids! We really do share the common goal of preparing these amazing kids to make a difference.
                Jim Bates
                Atlantic County NJ 4-H Robotics
                FLL Teams 71 & 13365
                FTC Team 9765

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by JimInNJ View Post
                  To work around the school bureaucracy, might I suggest that you look into your local Community organizations (4-H, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs) as FLL feeder/mentoring partners. They are all national FIRST Alliance partners, and have their own national initiatives to start local STEM programs. At least in my area, their STEM programs would LOVE to have FTC mentors. This certainly couldn't hurt your teams outreach pages.
                  Correction: The YMCA is NOT a FIRST National Alliance Partner. I'm sorry if this caused any confusion.
                  http://www.usfirst.org/aboutus/alliances
                  Jim Bates
                  Atlantic County NJ 4-H Robotics
                  FLL Teams 71 & 13365
                  FTC Team 9765

                  Comment

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