Workshops & Panels

Trainings and Discussions

2023 Workshop List

2024 Coming Soon


Automating with AprilTags & PhotonVision

PhotonVision Team

Abstract

The PhotonVision team will cover the technical details of identifying and using Fiducial targets for 2023 and beyond. Development process, existing resources, integration strategies, and case studies from the 2023 game will be included. The end focus will be not just how to build better autonomous strategies, but a more effective teleop robot through software assist features.

Bio

The PhotonVision team has been developing libraries for integrating AprilTag information into FRC robots since before the change was announced. They delivered the most popular open-source solution for working with AprilTags in 2023. Additionally, the team wrote the WPILib documentation on AprilTags for 2023.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Technical

Awards Roundtable

Members of the FIRST Hall of Fame

Abstract

Awards! We see them given out at every event, but it often can feel like a mystery how things get there. Come to this facilitated roundtable where we will discuss all things awards.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Awards

Birth of an Alliance – A Case Study in Creating a Sustainable and Successful FIRST Infrastructure

Tom Pospeshil: Team 503, Frog Force

Abstract

This case study provides a roadmap for maximizing the impact of your outreach endeavors specifically tailored to creating sustainable FIRST communities, not just starting teams. We discuss the importance of meeting your audience where they are, forming alliances with community groups, and securing funding through sponsors and grants. Additionally, we emphasize the value of active listening, empowering participants to continue initiatives independently. By fostering collaboration and maintaining a forward-thinking approach, you can propel your outreach efforts to new heights.

Bio

Tom Pospeshil has 12 years experience mentoring FIRST teams, including FLL, FTC, and 10 years with FRC 503, Frog Force. He has been a lead mentor and strategy mentor/drive coach since 2014, and was one of the lead Awards mentors in 2021 when Frog Force won the Championship Chairman’s Award (now FIRST Impact Award) and entered the FIRST Hall of Fame. Using knowledge and experience gained starting dozens of FIRST teams, Tom became a founder of the Motor City Alliance, a non-profit organization that supports nearly 100 FIRST teams in after-school programs, summer camps, and FIRST Robotics competitions.

Tracks

  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Awards
  • Team Organization
  • Sustainability

Debugging Robots at Events (CSA perspective)

James Kuszmaul: Team 971, Spartan Robotics

Abstract

The goal of this presentation is to give people an idea of how to approach debugging issues with their robots at events and at home. This presentation will be given from the perspective of talking through how a CSA (Control Systems Advisor) at an event would typically approach helping a team with various types of electrical and software issues. In doing this a few topics will get covered (presentation timing depending): * General robot debugging processes and approaches, with a focus on how this applies at events. * Enumeration of common issues to watch out for, and what resources are available to help. * Some discussion of the volunteer <-> team interaction involved with CSA’ing. * Some discussion of how the CSA volunteer role works.

Bio

I have been CSA’ing at events for ~9 years now and have spent copious amounts of time dealing with robot debugging & bringup both with my team and professionally.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)

Streams

  • Event Logistics
  • Technical

Doing the Math: How Teams Succeed

Alan Federman: Team 5104, BreakerBots

Abstract

In 1999 I began mentoring Team 255, Foothill Continuation High School, in the East Side Union District of San Jose, CA. In their first season at the Nationals at Epcot, Team 255 finished in the bottom 10%. In 2000, just 1 year later they captained the Championship Alliance. One of the team co-captains had been involved in a street gang, and as a result of the competition won a 4 year scholarship to UC Berkeley. 10 of the graduating seniors went on to 4 year colleges, a remarkable result for a school whose main aspiration was to grant GEDs. I believe 3 key principles: Passion – Planning – Perseverance – were the keys to their success.

Bio

“I have mentored 10 FRC teams and other robotics teams over the last 25 years. I worked for Mark Leon at NASA, and was responsible for initiating webcasting of FRC events starting in 1999. I have been wanting to tell the story of Team 255 for many years. I have even written a rough draft of our story: While FIRST certainly changed the lives of my students, it also has changed mine. I finished my professional career as a robotics engineer at the Stanford AI Laboratory, and helped found Ubiquity Robotics, a commercial robot vendor.”

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)

Streams

  • Team Organization

Drive Coach Panel

Cory Walters (2767), Mike Corsetto (1678), and Norm Morgan (2468)

Abstract

Join Cory, Mike, and Norm for a panel discussion on all things drive coaching!

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Event Logistics
  • Scouting and Strategy

Ethics and Core Values in Team Culture Panel

Sohini Stone (Google) and Luan Heimlich (FIRST California)

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Organization
  • Other: Ethics

Express Enrollment: The NEW FIRST student registration system

Lonny Weissman: FIRST Senior Mentor and Chris Rake: FIRST HQ

Abstract

Come for a demo of the new FIRST registration system for students! This “express enrollment” allows students and parents to register quickly and easily.

Bio

Lonny Weissman

I have worked with several teams to establish a non-profits as well as having established and run our team non-profit for the last 7 years.

Chris Rake

Chris Rake is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of FIRST®, the world’s leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM. He leads daily operations of FIRST to drive forward its global community, which is dedicated to preparing young people for the future through engaging, team-based research and robotics programs that inspire young leaders and innovators. Rake joined FIRST in 2018 as Vice President of Programs. Bringing an impressive background in leadership and technical excellence, and a passion for FIRST, he’s championed the growth of the progression of  FIRST programs worldwide and led the team responsible for strategic planning and development of overall program content and experience.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Beginner)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Organization
  • Other: Ethics

F1 and FRC the pinnacle of engineering

Jesús Betancourt: Team 6832, STEAMex

Abstract

Steal from the best, invent the rest; Formula 1 is the most competitive sport in the world and has some of the best engineering wonders. F1 and FRC have very high performance teams and are both some of the biggest engineering challenges in the world. Philosophies, roles and strategies in F1 can represent a framework that can be used in FRC. In this presentation we will compare how F1 and FRC teams face the challenges and what FRC teams can learn from F1 to have excellence in our design processes.

Bio

Lead mentor for team 6832 in charge of designing the team’s methodology and documentation that allowed us to win Excellence in Engineering award at Championship this year. Part of 6832 scouting team, 6832 is the winner of Scouting Palooza 2022 (Scouting world championship). I was elected to be part of the second cohort of FIRST Educators Recognition Program

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)

Streams

  • Technical

FIRST Culture and Ethics

Andy Baker: AndyMark & Team 45, TechnoKats

Abstract

I will speak about the strong culture within the FIRST community regarding gracious professionalism and ethics. I will tell stories, give examples, explain history, and describe why having a strong culture and ethical foundation is a key component to the success of FIRST.

Bio

Andy is a husband, father, engineer and business owner. He has been an FRC mentor since 1998, and was able to witness the beginning of FIRST in 1992. Andy is the president and co-founder of AndyMark, and has been a key member of the FIRST community for over two decades. Andy and his wife, Mary, lead the operation of AndyMark, striving to serve the FIRST community in many ways. All three of their daughters have benefitted from the FIRST program and are still involved as volunteers. Andy has served as an FIRST event judge, head referee, lead robot inspector, but mainly volunteers as a robot inspector at FIRST events. He received the Championship Woodie Flowers Award in 2003, is the designer of the WFFA mobius trophy, and still serves as a Woodie Flowers Award judge.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)

Streams

  • Team Organization

FRC Overview

Elise Cronin-Hurley and Wendy Austin: Team 1902, 4-H Exploding Bacon Robotics

Abstract

Come for to learn what FRC is all about and the impact this program has on thousands of students around the world each year.

Bio

Elise has been privileged to both inherit and pass along leadership of a thriving FIRST Robotics Competition team and navigate the ever growing challenges and opportunities required to manage today’s youth development organizations. Dedicated hands-on volunteer experience mentoring and managing a year round team and decades consulting non-profits on communications and organization.

  • 4-H Exploding Bacon Team 1902, 2011- to current
  • Imagery, Outreach & Awards mentor, since 2011
  • Team Lead, 2016-2019
  • FIRST LEGO League, FIRST TECH Challenge & FIRST Robotics Competition event volunteer & judge since 2012.
  • Orlando and Tallahassee Regional Planning Committees, Website, Graphics, & Communications
  • FIRST Hall of Fame, Communications, 2020 – current

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Beginner)

Streams

  • Other: Introduction and Overview

FRC Strategy Blueprint

Cory Walters: Team 2767, Stryke Force

Abstract

How to engage in match strategy at the FRC events. Topics are: Drive Team, Game Plan, Saturday Afternoon, Strategy, and Game Evolution. It will do a walk through of an entire event on how to work at match strategy from quals to Saturday afternoon. Explain different strategy’s to implement from different games to be successful on the field. Also how the game evolves from week 1 to worlds. Link to presentation. https://prezi.com/p/vvqfmalvsdxb/frc-strategy-101/

Bio

20 year of FRC experience. Drive coach for 13 years on a world championship team. Driver for my own high school team. Seen and played in many FRC games. I am able to breakdown many of the game strategy’s from memory or watching video of match’s. Played on both the largest stages as well as working with rookie teams at lower events. I can bring a district competition view to a reginal competition area.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Event Logistics
  • Scouting and Strategy

Fundraising Toolkit

Renee Becker-Blau

Abstract

Each FIRST team has different mentors, parents, students, and community engagement opportunities. The FIRST Fundraising Toolkit offers excellent advice on how to create a team fundraising plan with fill-in-the-blank resources, videos, and example fundraisers from teams within FIRST, but how do you put the FIRST Fundraising Toolkit to work for your team, in your community, and with the resources you currently have? During this session, we will start with a high-level review of the resources in the FIRST Fundraising Toolkit and then spend the majority of our time walking through how to build your team’s confidence in asking for sponsorships from local organizations. You will walk away with a series of 15min to 30min team activities that break down the sponsorship request process into bite sized pieces for your students. This will contain new content, beyond the original Fundraising Toolkit, focusing on building your students’ confidence in fundraising. We recommend you take a look at the Fundraising Toolkit to familiarize yourself with the already existing resources – https://www.firstinspires.org/resource-library/fundraising-toolkit

Bio

As a student in FIRST, Renee Becker-Blau discovered her passion for community building, laying the foundation for a remarkable twenty-year journey. Throughout this time, she actively volunteered in all FIRST programs, mentoring over 22 teams, and immersing herself in the fields of youth development and nonprofit management. Through these formative experiences, Renee cultivated the belief that every student, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic background, should have the opportunity to choose if they would like to pursue a career in STEM, rather than having that choice predetermined by life circumstances or zip code. Drawing from her personal experience and witnessing the transformative power of the FIRST program, she is dedicated to fostering inclusive environments where communities can thrive. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Scientific & Technical Communication and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management, Renee effectively leveraged her expertise to expand student access to the FIRST program, both her tenure with FIRST Indiana Robotics (2013-2023) and as the current President of FIRST Wisconsin. A community building, trailblazing, #STEMINIST, she firmly believes that our future is built better together.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Beginner)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Logistics
  • Team Organization

Gettin’ Picky About Being Picky: How to Navigate Alliance Selection

Brian Maher: Team 333, MEGALODONS

Abstract

Contrary to popular belief, most FRC events are not won or lost during a match, but during alliance selection. Learn how to use scouting data to make a pick list, navigate the alliance selection process, and make a good impression on alliance captains in order to have your best shot at a blue banner. We’ll discuss best practices, case studies, and common mistakes for all things alliance selection.

Bio

During my 7 seasons as a mentor on FRC 2791 Shaker Robotics (2016-2019) and FRC 333 MEGALODONS (2020-present), I’ve focused on getting my students excited about analyzing scouting data and scheming up winning strategies. Smart scouting and picking has helped both teams punch above their weight at regionals and offseason events, bringing home 4 regional wins and 7 offseason wins in that time. I love sharing the lessons I’ve learned over the years, which I’ve done in past conference presentations, the Gettin’ Picky series that Katie Widen and I wrote together, and my Chief Delphi ramblings.

Tracks

  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Scouting and Strategy

Grants, Sponsors, and Nonprofits Roundtable

Renee Becker-Blau: FIRST Wisconsin and Brook Ostrom: Team 1678, Citrus Circuits

Abstract

Join Renee and Brook for a facilited roundtable on all things related to grants, non-profits, and sponsors!

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Organization

Handling Team Growth Sustainably Roundtable

Allen Gregory: Team 3847, Spectrum and Norm Morgan: Team 2468, Team Appreciate

Abstract

Join a facilitaed roundtable on how to handle your team’s growth sustainably.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Project Management
  • Team Organization

How to control your own teams funds

Lonny Weissman: Team 668, The Apes of Wrath

Abstract

This presentation is a guide to establishing a Non-profit for either Community or School teams. The presentation provides a simple guide that allows a team to control all of their funds without any income tax liability. It will take participants step by step through the process without requiring an attorney. This is to help with the federal side of establishing a non-profit and the California State requirements. For those who are not a resident entity in CA you would need to become familiar with your individual state tax law for a non-profit

Bio

I have worked with several teams to establish a non-profits as well as having established and run our team non-profit for the last 7 years.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)

Streams

  • Team Organization

How to win the Impact Award Part 1: Building an Outreach Mission

Isriah Keila and Michael Johnson: Team 321, RoboLancers

Abstract

The FIRST Impact Award recognizes a team that demonstrates the greatest measurable progress toward achieving FIRST’s mission of transforming society to elevate science and technology in our culture. Your team’s first step in working towards the Impact Award should be to decide on and clearly articulate a team mission and vision that fits into the bigger picture of the global FIRST mission, but is meaningful, manageable and measurable in your community. Participants will learn about crafting a mission and vision statement, and designing an outreach program to pursue that vision. Check out part 2, for how to convince the judges that you deserve the award!

Bio

The presenters are mentors for 2023 Championship FIRST Impact Award Winner team 321, the RoboLancers. Through the nonprofit Philadelphia Robotics Coalition, the presenters train and support teachers to become successful FIRST coaches. Michael Johnson has been the head coach of the RoboLancers since 2014. He is a teacher of engineering, physics, and robotics at Central High School where the RoboLancers are based. He holds an MS in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and an SB in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. Isriah Keila has been a coach of the RoboLancers since 2021. He is the full-time Program Manager for the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition, the non-profit organization founded by the RoboLancers. He has been involved in FIRST for 17 years, an alum of every FIRST program from kindergarten through high school, and mentoring thereafter. He holds a BS in Management Information Systems from Florida State University.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Awards
  • Team Organization

How to win the Impact Award Part 2: Convincing the Judges

Isriah Keila and Michael Johnson: Team 321, RoboLancers

Abstract

The FIRST Impact Award recognizes a team that demonstrates the greatest measurable progress toward achieving FIRST’s mission of transforming society to elevate science and technology in our culture. Teams who have established a successful track record in support of this mission should submit for the award. But measuring and communicating your achievement is no easy task. In this session, we’ll share our perspectives and insight on the various components of the submission and interview process, including understanding your audience, documentation requirements, and Impact scouting. We’ll also leave plenty of time for questions and discussion. Be sure to catch Part 1 as well, for how to build an impactful outreach mission!

Bio

The presenters are mentors for 2023 Championship FIRST Impact Award Winner team 321, the RoboLancers. Through the nonprofit Philadelphia Robotics Coalition, the presenters train and support teachers to become successful FIRST coaches. Michael Johnson has been the head coach of the RoboLancers since 2014. He is a teacher of engineering, physics, and robotics at Central High School where the RoboLancers are based. He holds an MS in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and an SB in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. Isriah Keila has been a coach of the RoboLancers since 2021. He is the full-time Program Manager for the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition, the non-profit organization founded by the RoboLancers. He has been involved in FIRST for 17 years, an alum of every FIRST program from kindergarten through high school, and mentoring thereafter. He holds a BS in Management Information Systems from Florida State University.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Awards
  • Team Organization

Impact Award Panel

Members of the Hall of Fame

Abstract

Come along for a panel with members of the FIRST Hall of Fame on all things related to the impact award and outreach. Panelists will include mentors from 321, 503, 1902, and 3132.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Awards

Introduction to XRP

Peter Johnson and Brad Miller: WPILib

Abstract

Join Peter Johnson and Brad Miller from the WPILib development team to learn about the new eXperiential Robotics Platform, or XRP, that is targeted for FRC teams. XRP is an entry-level open-source robotics platform intended to spur new interest and participation in robotics programs. XRP is fully supported by the WPILib development environment, making it a perfect training and recruiting tool for new FRC team members.

This 2-hour session will offer a hands-on programming opportunity for new and veteran mentors with the XRP and the WPILib environment. Attendees can expect to learn how to program the XRP using the WPILib environment.

This is a hands-on session, so please bring your WPILib capable laptops to fully participate. See https://docs.wpilib.org/en/stable/docs/zero-to-robot/step-2/wpilib-setup.html for WPILib installation instructions.

Bio

Peter Johnson is a long-time FIRST volunteer and a member of the WPILib development team. In his day job, Peter is Director of Engineering at Northrop Grumman Space Systems in Southern California.

Brad Miller is the Senior Fellow for WPI OpenSTEM. Brad currently leads the WPILib development team. Brad also served for 16 years as the Associate Director of the Robotics Resource Center at WPI.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Beginner)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Technical

Managing Luck: High Reliability Processes to Improve Your FRC Odds

Brendan Simons: Team 5406, Celt-X

Abstract

Using lessons from the Nuclear, Aviation and Medical industries, we will present general strategies, and specific examples, to maximize your on-field reliability, and avoid Murphy’s Law.

Bio

Brendan Simons, P. Eng, graduated from Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) and has worked as a design engineer and project manager in the nuclear industry for 20 years. He co-founded Celt-X Robotics (5406) in 2015 with a focus on competitiveness, continuous improvement, and sustainability. He is proud that the team has grown since then into a successful, year-round program backed by dedicated mentors, students and sponsors. In 2023 Brendan was honoured to receive the Woodie Flower Finalist Award for the Ontario District

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Event Logistics
  • Technical
  • Scouting and Strategy

Meaningful Inclusion in FIRST Robotics

Kara Boyer: Team 5414, Pearadox

Abstract

This session is intended for mentors from around the country to share resources and experiences related to hosting inclusion events both during team meetings, inter-team socials and local competitions. The focus of this session is improving engagement and retainment of underrepresented and underserved populations in FRC including girls, Black youth and LGBTQ+ communities. This session will be small group discussions where we believe we can achieve greater knowledge sharing. Girls Get Together – Brilliant Black Builders – Safe Space in STEM These are three continuous event series where we invite industry professionals and engineers to connect and network with underrepresented communities in FIRST. We recognize that many of these students do not have mentors or even other students on their team they identify with (or look like). We strive to use this event as a bridge that allows underrepresented youth to meet their role models and others their age making lasting connections.

Bio

Kara Boyer is a mechanical engineer working for MISTRAS Group and FIRST Robotics Competition alumni. Kara grew up in Houston, TX where she became the Team Captain of her FRC Team 118, The Robonauts. She helped start Pearadox FRC Team 5414 in 2014 and has since started a internal clubs known as Gearbox Girls, Brilliant Black Builders and Safe Space in STEM, where she serves as an advisor for several initiatives focused on providing more opportunities for underrepresented and under-served communities in STEM. She believes that building meaningful connections and developing a sense of belonging is the most effective way to retain underrepresented and under-served communities in STEM fields. In her career as a FIRST Robotics mentor, Kara has hosted countless inclusion social events in the Greater Houston area and 17 inclusion events at various FRC competitions, 7 of which at the FRC World Championship.

Tracks

  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Other: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Mentor Built: Enhancing Your Team Workspace

Ben Martin: Team 2481, Roboteers

Abstract

From January 2021 to January 2023, Roboteers Team 2481 mentors, students and alumni designed and constructed a 6,000+ sq ft team building on the Tremont High School grounds, with team members doing almost all of the fundraising and construction work. The construction itself was completed in less than five months, and the full project cost less than $300k. The presentation will cover how we made it happen and how you can execute a similar project yourself.

Bio

I was one of the three main designers/executers for the aforementioned building project, and I can answer questions around the choices we made with significant detail. We’ve posted several pictures of our new building here for additional context: http://team2481.com/robotics-center/. Outside of general FRC building-construction knowledge, I’m entering my 20th season with FRC, where I have held a number of roles including Lead Mentor/Main Contact.

Tracks

  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Organization

Mock Kickoff

Tom Pospeshil: Team 503, Frog Force

Abstract

What do you do once you know the game? Come learn from 503’s Tom Pospeshil how to go from a game manual to robot concept. [NOTE: This is part of the rookie track and will be done at an introductory level.]

Bio

Tom Pospeshil has 12 years experience mentoring FIRST teams, including FLL, FTC, and 10 years with FRC 503, Frog Force. He has been a lead mentor and strategy mentor/drive coach since 2014, and was one of the lead Awards mentors in 2021 when Frog Force won the Championship Chairman’s Award (now FIRST Impact Award) and entered the FIRST Hall of Fame. Using knowledge and experience gained starting dozens of FIRST teams, Tom became a founder of the Motor City Alliance, a non-profit organization that supports nearly 100 FIRST teams in after-school programs, summer camps, and FIRST Robotics competitions.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Beginner)

Streams

  • Other: Kickoff
  • Team Organization

Navigating the Team Dashboard for Lead 1 and Lead 2

Lonny Weissman: Team 668, The Apes of Wrath

Abstract

This presentation will walk participants through the team dashboard from registration through all aspects of the using the dashboard.

Bio

As a FIRST Senior Mentor I deal with all of the team questions about the Team Dashboard and have 23 years of experience with team IT questions concerning the Dashboard

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)

Streams

  • Team Organization

Networking and Strengthening Your Local FRC Community

Andrew Hartnett: Team 5414, Pearadox

Abstract

A key part of improving your team and local FRC community is building a strong local network of mentors. Things like mentor workshops, geographically based slacks, visits to other teams shops, and invitations to other teams to come to your shop are things that can help improve everyone in the process. This workshop will be a mix of presentation and discussion about why it matters, what has worked for some, what hasn’t worked and why, and the timing for building a good local network. This is targeted for both those that can offer support and those looking to receive support. In reality, many teams might be in a position for both; I routinely hear from top teams about support they received from others along the way. When digging into the data about team attrition rate, we believe there is a strong correlation between teams that survive and mentors that build a network of support

Bio

Andrew Hartnett has been in FRC since 2005, having taken off 2008 – 2010 and founded and is lead mentor for FRC5414, Pearadox. Pearadox has won a district champs culture changing award 2020-2023, and has been an event finalist numerous times since 2019. This success didn’t come from Pearadox’s inception however, as they steadily improved every year after struggling on the field from their rookie year. Networking was a key part in Pearadox’s growth and success as an FRC organization. Additionally, Andrew has co-hosted FRC Mentor workshops with WFA Allen Gregory and fellow WFFA Scott Rippetoe for the past few years. In 2022 Allen, Scott, and Andrew were asked to bring the mentor workshop “”on the road”” and hosted workshops in San Antonio and Dallas in addition to the annual Houston mentor workshop and are currently working to encourage local mentors in those areas to continue those this year. Andrew also helps to manage the Texas Mentors slack

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Awards
  • Project Management
  • Other: Networking

Nonprofit Management with a Focus on FIRST

Renee Becker-Blau

Abstract

Come learn about nonprofits management with a FIRST twist!

Bio

As a student in FIRST, Renee Becker-Blau discovered her passion for community building, laying the foundation for a remarkable twenty-year journey. Throughout this time, she actively volunteered in all FIRST programs, mentoring over 22 teams, and immersing herself in the fields of youth development and nonprofit management. Through these formative experiences, Renee cultivated the belief that every student, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic background, should have the opportunity to choose if they would like to pursue a career in STEM, rather than having that choice predetermined by life circumstances or zip code. Drawing from her personal experience and witnessing the transformative power of the FIRST program, she is dedicated to fostering inclusive environments where communities can thrive. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Scientific & Technical Communication and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management, Renee effectively leveraged her expertise to expand student access to the FIRST program, both her tenure with FIRST Indiana Robotics (2013-2023) and as the current President of FIRST Wisconsin. A community building, trailblazing, #STEMINIST, she firmly believes that our future is built better together.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Beginner)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Logistics
  • Team Organization

One Match at a Time: How the Robonauts Execute at Events

Ryan Stockton: Team 118, Robonauts

Abstract

The Robonauts have refined our approach to competition success over the last 27 years and have documented our processes for how to successfully execute at competitions both on and off the field. We will discuss how we execute successful match strategy, collect accurate scouting data, deliver a robot to the drive team performing at its peak, and how our media crew captures it all.

Bio

Ryan Stockton currently works as a Robotics Specialist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center designing lunar exploration rovers. He has worked on the design of the VIPER flight unit, prototype rovers such as the Lunar Terrain Vehicle and Space Exploration Vehicle, and NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project which sponsors hundreds of FRC teams every season. He is an alumnus and mechanical mentor of FRC Team 118, the Robonauts and also a Co-Lead of the Robonauts Everybot program.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Event Logistics

Purpose-Driven Leadership: How Your Spark Can Ignite Team Excellence

Renee Becker-Blau

Abstract

Come learn about nonprofits management with a FIRST twist!

Bio

As a student in FIRST, Renee Becker-Blau discovered her passion for community building, laying the foundation for a remarkable twenty-year journey. Throughout this time, she actively volunteered in all FIRST programs, mentoring over 22 teams, and immersing herself in the fields of youth development and nonprofit management. Through these formative experiences, Renee cultivated the belief that every student, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic background, should have the opportunity to choose if they would like to pursue a career in STEM, rather than having that choice predetermined by life circumstances or zip code. Drawing from her personal experience and witnessing the transformative power of the FIRST program, she is dedicated to fostering inclusive environments where communities can thrive. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Scientific & Technical Communication and a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management, Renee effectively leveraged her expertise to expand student access to the FIRST program, both her tenure with FIRST Indiana Robotics (2013-2023) and as the current President of FIRST Wisconsin. A community building, trailblazing, #STEMINIST, she firmly believes that our future is built better together.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Beginner)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Logistics
  • Team Organization

Putting Your Best Foot Forward for Judging

David Runneals: Team 3928, Team Neutrino

Abstract

Ever wonder what judges look for or how to win that award? Wonder no more! We’ll touch on tips and tricks to help your team present themselves professionally to judges to improve their chance at winning an award. NOTE: No confidential information will be presented or discussed and this is just the opinion of one (or maybe 2 judges).

Bio

I have mentored 2 FRC teams for just over 8 years. In addition I have been judging team and machine attribute awards along with Dean’s List the past 3 years at several regionals and Championship.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Awardst

Reinventing FRC to push the limits of technology by accepting the greater challenge

Marshall: Team 900, The Zebracorns

Abstract

For many, the challenge in FRC is the competition itself but for a select few, the challenge is how to play the game while keeping an audience of exceptionally bright students and mentors motivated and working towards a set of common goals. The talk will explore what creativity with software looks like and how to build a program tailored for students and mentors who have a compulsion to go above and beyond the normal. The talk will use the experience of mentoring The Zebracorns, FRC Team 900 from Durham North Carolina, to explain how to push the boundaries of what technology is used in FRC and is commonly available to high school students, along with making technology more accessible and hinting at what’s likely coming in the future.

Bio

Marshall Massengill is a dynamic speaker and leading authority in using ChatGPT to write conference biographies. He has inspired Chief Delphi lurkers worldwide for nearly two decades and was once voted the most sardonic poster of all time. He was raised with a strong work ethic, which lead him to graduate from NCSSM and eventually earn a computer engineering degree from NCSU. Known for his engaging storytelling and absurd strategies, Marshall connects with audiences and leaves a lasting impact. He is also not a prolific author, a former FUN media personality, and advocate for mental health. Marshall prioritizes family and enjoys outdoor exploration.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Project Management
  • Technical
  • Other: Creativity

Scaling Projects through Sustainable Development

Jesús Betancourt: Team 6832, STEAMex

Abstract

Understand what is sustainable development and how can we as teams collaborate to fulfill the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It can help rookie teams to create a path to how they can orient their social impact, it can help novice or veteran teams to have a more clear direction of their projects and how they can organize their project portfolios.

Bio

I am a FIRST alum and honoree of the second cohort of the FIRST Educators Recognition Program. I mentor FRC team 6832, the only UN-certified team committed to the Sustainable Development Goals since 2018. With a sustainability diploma from the Universidad de Monterrey, I have delivered keynote speeches at FIRST Robotics Fest (by 3478) and an event hosted by 6652, focusing on sustainable development. Additionally, I had the privilege of being an invited professor, teaching a class on the impact of projects on sustainability to senior mechanical, systems, industrial, and robotics engineering students. Passionate about sharing knowledge, I aim to inspire positive change for a more sustainable future.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Project Management

Sheet Metal from Concept to the Cosmos

Ryan Stockton: Team 118, Robonauts

Abstract

Sheet metal design is a powerful design technique that can be used to create stiff robot structures that allow parts to be manufactured from thinner materials, ultimately saving weight. Sheet metal structures also allow for highly integrated designs that can reduce part count. This talk will cover basic sheet metal designs that can be produced with simple box/pan brakes to complex integrated sheet metal structures produced with a CNC brake like those on Robonauts robots and rovers developed at NASA.

Bio

Ryan Stockton currently works as a Robotics Specialist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center designing lunar exploration rovers. He has worked on the design of the VIPER flight unit, prototype rovers such as the Lunar Terrain Vehicle and Space Exploration Vehicle, and NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project which sponsors hundreds of FRC teams every season. He is an alumnus and mechanical mentor of FRC Team 118, the Robonauts and also a Co-Lead of the Robonauts Everybot program.

Tracks

  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Technical

Software Panel

Austin Schuh (971), Jared Russell (254), Marshall (900), Peter Johnson (WPI Library)

Abstract

With a combined 50 years of FRC software experience, these panelists have been behind some of the biggest innovations in FRC software history. Come along to ask questions and learn more about controls and software in FRC.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Technical

SURVIVE: How to Run a Sustainable Team without Losing Your Mind

Elise Cronin-Hurley and Wendy Austin: Team 1902, 4-H Exploding Bacon Robotics

Abstract

Much like a robot, running a youth development organization involves a lot of effectively moving parts. Whether you are a veteran or rookie mentor, in this workshop you will discover practical tips for building sustainable systems and improve your team’s efficiency in areas like organizational, communications, and finance. Wendy and Elise have served in leadership and volunteer roles with FIRST teams and competitions since 2006 and come with years of practical team leadership experience from all levels of FIRST. They will share relatable challenges and solutions implemented to make their leadership experiences more sustainable. Teams face a lot of challenges, this workshop provides approaches, not specific ‘one fits all solutions’, to take back and start to evaluate your own team’s challenges and opportunities and create specific goals for your team. Presented at FIRST Championship in conjunction with the THRIVE workshop in two full and very well received 45 minute sessions.

Bio

Elise has been privileged to both inherit and pass along leadership of a thriving FIRST Robotics Competition team and navigate the ever growing challenges and opportunities required to manage today’s youth development organizations. Dedicated hands-on volunteer experience mentoring and managing a year round team and decades consulting non-profits on communications and organization.

  • 4-H Exploding Bacon Team 1902, 2011- to current
  • Imagery, Outreach & Awards mentor, since 2011
  • Team Lead, 2016-2019
  • FIRST LEGO League, FIRST TECH Challenge & FIRST Robotics Competition event volunteer & judge since 2012.
  • Orlando and Tallahassee Regional Planning Committees, Website, Graphics, & Communications
  • FIRST Hall of Fame, Communications, 2020 – current

Experience:

  • Extensive history of youth organization development: church youth leader, Girl Scout leader, PTA President and more.
  • 4-H Exploding Bacon Team 1902, leadership 2006-2013 (an original Bacon mentor)
  • Gra-V Robotics Team 5816, an original team mentor
  • FIRST Regional Director North & Central Florida, current
  • FIRST: numerous roles as a volunteer and judge at competitions; volunteer, events and outreach, since 2006

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)

Streams

  • Marketing
  • Team Organization

Technical Roundtable

Greg Needel: Rev Robotics, Nick Dal Porto: Team 971, Spartan Robotics, and Michael Bick: Team 971, Spartan Robotics

Abstract

What technical challenges does your team face? How can you grow your team’s technical skills? Come along for a facilitated roundtable on all things tech!

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Technical

The Development and “A” Team Models: multiple teams at a single school

Allen Gregory: Team 3847, Spectrum and Norm Morgan: Team 2468, Team Appreciate

Abstract

Multiple teams under one roof – how does it work? Come learn how Spectrum and Team Appreciate have managed to grow to mutliple FRC teams to engage all their students.

Bio

Allen Gregory

We have run our development team model since 2021. I have 21 years of FRC experience, 2019 Woodie Flowers Award Recipient.

Norm Morgan

Norman Morgan began FRC 2468 Team Appreciate in 2008. He brings 37 years of successful classroom & athletic coaching experience to his program. Drawing upon past knowledge & personal interactions, his program is modeled after previous coaching & leadership roles from athletics, yearbook & student council. His program has grown from 35 students in 2008 to a yearly participation of 160+ high school students competing in FRC &FTC. For the past four years, his program based at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas has fielded multiple FRC teams from the same school, utilized the same mentors/teachers & work space for the teams. The program has experienced growth since day one & has been managed in a variety of ways including seven FTC teams & one FRC team to now two FTC teams & three FRC teams( FRC 2468, FRC 2687 & FRC 2689) for 125+ students each year. He depends heavily on trusting his mentors and student leadership for day to day operations.

Tracks

  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Organization

The Symbiotic Relationship Between FIRST Programs

Dianne France: Playing at Learning

Abstract

Join us in uncovering the untapped potential of collaboration as we explore the symbiotic relationship between FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Lego League. Together, we can amplify the impact of these incredible programs and create a transformative experience for all involved. FIRST Robotics Competition was where it all began, but today FIRST is so much more! How is your relationship with your Affiliate Partner(s) for FIRST Tech Challenge and the FIRST Lego League programs? And why should you care? In this presentation, we’ll look at the symbiotic relationship between all the programs and how we can all make FIRST louder. We’ll start with a basic description of the other FIRST programs from K-12 and the Affiliate Partners that support them. Then we’ll look at what they can do for you and how you can help support them. Lastly participants can share their best practices in working with other FIRST programs. We hope that each team can come away with exciting new ideas for expanding their interactions within the FIRST community.

Bio

Dianne France is an FTC Program Coordinator for Playing at Learning, the Northern California Affiliate Partner for FTC and FLL. She came to FIRST supporting her kids through all the FIRST programs including spending about 8 years as an FRC mentor. She’s volunteered in all FIRST programs and hosted both FTC and FLL events. Having been both a mentor and partner, Dianne sees a big opportunity to increase the impact of FIRST in our communities by strengthening the relationships between all FIRST programs.

Tracks

  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Organization

THRIVE: Building a Team Culture without Losing Your Mind.

Elise Cronin-Hurley and Wendy Austin: Team 1902, 4-H Exploding Bacon Robotics

Abstract

Discover why team culture matters. Learn methods to help your team thrive through complex challenges. This workshop will provide some tips on how to create an impactful team culture through planning, outreach, and fundraising. Wendy and Elise have served in leadership and volunteer roles with FIRST teams and competitions since 2006 and come with years of practical team leadership experience from all levels of FIRST. They will share relatable challenges and solutions implemented to make their leadership experiences more sustainable. From business plan tips to fundraising and outreach techniques, Teams face a lot of challenges, this workshop provides approaches, not specific ‘one fits all solutions’, to take back and start to evaluate your own team’s challenges and opportunities and create specific goals for your team. Presented at FIRST Championship in conjunction with the SURVIVE workshop in two full and very well received 45 minute sessions.

Bio

Elise has been privileged to both inherit and pass along leadership of a thriving FIRST Robotics Competition team and navigate the ever growing challenges and opportunities required to manage today’s youth development organizations. Dedicated hands-on volunteer experience mentoring and managing a year round team and decades consulting non-profits on communications and organization.

  • 4-H Exploding Bacon Team 1902, 2011- to current
  • Imagery, Outreach & Awards mentor, since 2011
  • Team Lead, 2016-2019
  • FIRST LEGO League, FIRST TECH Challenge & FIRST Robotics Competition event volunteer & judge since 2012.
  • Orlando and Tallahassee Regional Planning Committees, Website, Graphics, & Communications
  • FIRST Hall of Fame, Communications, 2020 – current

Experience:

  • Extensive history of youth organization development: church youth leader, Girl Scout leader, PTA President and more.
  • 4-H Exploding Bacon Team 1902, leadership 2006-2013 (an original Bacon mentor)
  • Gra-V Robotics Team 5816, an original team mentor
  • FIRST Regional Director North & Central Florida, current
  • FIRST: numerous roles as a volunteer and judge at competitions; volunteer, events and outreach, since 2006

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)

Streams

  • Marketing
  • Team Organization

Using FIRST-Based Curriculum & Inclusive Teaching Practices to Promote a Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive Team

Dee Clark: Team 7407, Wired Boars

Abstract

My presentation will focus on how to use FIRST-based curriculum and inclusive teaching practices to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within a FRC team as well as to maximize student learning and engagement in the offseason and build season. On 7407, using FRC-based curriculum in our fall, spring and summer training programs have proven massively effective in preparing students to take major ownership of the robot during build season, reaching different types of learners, including neurodivergent students, recruiting underrepresented students in STEM into the team, as well as growing confidence and self esteem in all students. This conference will go over how to build different FRC-based projects into classroom settings as well as FRC team training. We will also discuss how to couple these projects with inclusive teaching practices to maximize student learning and engagement, challenge our own internal biases to become better educators, and ensure no students get left behind.

Bio

I started in FRC as a junior in high school on Team 20 based out of Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, NY. After taking on the drive coach role my senior year, I was absolutely hooked on FIRST and wanted to continue my journey as a mentor, and have been mentoring for 11 years now in FRC & FLL, and have started 2 FRC teams and 10 FLL teams. However, I faced serious sexism and bias inside and outside of my team as a student and mentor and have been determined to change the culture within FIRST to ensure all students have equal opportunities and are treated with respect regardless of lived experience. As a former working engineer and current math & robotics teacher, I have gained a wholistic perspective on what students need to be prepared for engineering school and industry, as well as what different types of students need to learn and thrive in a STEM environment.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Organization
  • Other: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Utilizing MCC, Starter Bot or Everybot concepts for successful mentorship or for your team’s success

Norman Morgan: Team 2468, Team Appreciate

Abstract

Need a good foundation to start an FRC team whether for yourself or for teams you are mentoring? FRC 2468 has utilized EveryBot and similar programs to mentoring eight rookies teams over the past seven years. Utilizing these programs in the months leading up to FRC season kickoff can establish the foundation for a successful start to a season. Clearly defined goals and understanding how the goals relate to the modeled program builds allow a team to focus on getting a robust robot built to tackle the season challenge. A team who experiences success at a tournament will more than likely be more successful at the next tournament or will be motivated to improve for the next season. FRC 2468 utilizes this system to train and develop our FRC 2689 Team Alpha students to develop a foundation within the novice FRC students.

Bio

FRC 2468 has mentored eight rookie teams in FRC over the past seven years. Four of those teams utilized a planned robot (MCC, StarterBot or EveryBot) for two seasons with minor modifications. All of the teams successfully competed in the all of the playoffs the teams competed in for their seasons. Success on the field starts at home during build seasons. We have utilized these principles not only to train our rookie FRC students in our program at FRC 2468 but also at the other teams we have mentored as well. Offseason plans will be provided on how to break down past seasons so that teams will be prepared to get a good start to the season at kickoff.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Rookie and Novice)

Streams

  • Project Management
  • Team Organization
  • Technical

Where the Big Holes Are

Joan Horvath: Judge Advisor

Abstract

From a perspective of a long-term judge and sometimes consultant, I will talk about some of the commonest preventable teams of omission and commission, particularly (though not exclusively) for younger teams. In particular I can talk about strategies for planning in the fall, defining useful tests during build season, why it can be a bad idea to use tech for tech’s sake, and how to think ahead about what ideally should happen at competition.

Bio

I have been an FRC judge in the Los Angeles area for 23 years, and a Judge Advisor since 2020. I was named the 2023 Volunteer of the Year at the Los Angeles Regional. I have also been an occasional technical consultant to Team 1452 (Omnicats). I am the co-founder of consulting company Nonscriptum LLC (www.nonscriptum.com) which trains educators and scientists on effective use of 3D printing and open-source electronics. We have written 11 books and a variety of LinkedIn Learning courses on 3D printing and hands-on STEM learning. Our most recent book, Make: Calculus, uses LEGO bricks and 3D prints to teach core calculus courses. I am an MIT and UCLA engineering alumna.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)

Streams

  • Awards
  • Project Management

Working with Challenging Students and Mentors Roundtable

Stephan Massalt: Team 971, Spartan Robotics and Sohini Stone

Abstract

How do you help students through challenges? How do we empower them and ourselves when difficult situations arise? What do you do when mentors disagree? Be ready at this roundtable for a frank conversation about challenging situations and how to handle them.

Tracks

  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)
  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Team Organization
  • Other: Mentoring

World-Class, Experience-Focused Drive Coaching

Mike Corsetto: Team 1678, Citrus Circuits

Abstract

In this presentation, I’ll unwrap the processes I use to establish consistent match execution at FRC events, that both increases likelihood of positive experiences for all alliance members and maximizes competitive results. I’ll review all stages of my drive coaching process, including strategy development, alliance prep, match management and post-match wrap-up.

Bio

I’ve been a drive coach in FRC for over a decade, with event wins as drive coach on multiple FRC teams. As drive coach, I personally have one of the highest event win conversion rates at both the Regional and Championship Division level.

Tracks

  • Scaling a Team (Advanced)

Streams

  • Event Logistics
  • Scouting and Strategy

Writing A Great Grant Application – More Fun Than Searching The Couch Cushions

Dave Lavery: Team 116 Epsilon Delta and NASA

Abstract

How to structure and submit a grant application for FRC team funding. Tips on what you should be sure to include, what to avoid, and where to look for funding opportunities.

Bio

Dave Lavery created and has run the NASA Robotics Alliance Project (RAP) for nearly three decades. Over the years, the RAP project has provided support to over 3000 different FIRST Robotics Competition teams through provision of funds, mentor support, and facilities access. This has included developing the RAP “Mini-Grant” process, which has received and conducted over 20,000 grant proposal evaluations to date. This background provides a unique experience from which to discuss the FRC grant application process.

Tracks

  • Starting a Team (Beginner)
  • Sustaining a Team (Intermediate)

Streams

  • Project Management
  • Team Organization

THRIVE: Building A Team Culture

THRIVE: Building a Team Culture without Losing Your Mind. Elise Cronin-Hurley and Wendy Austin: Team 1902, 4-H Exploding Bacon Robotics Abstract Discover why team culture matters. Learn methods to help your team thrive through complex challenges. This workshop will...

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